You would think that after a long, arduous, and controversy-laden search for an actor of Middle Eastern—or, honestly, just non-white—descent to play the title role in the upcoming, Guy Richie-directed live-action Aladdin movie, the folks behind the film might understand that what it doesn’t need is white people. Instead, they’ve written an entirely new white character!
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Tony nominee Billy Magnussen will be playing an original character named Prince Anders, because if a big budget movie includes no prominent white people, is it a real movie? Does it actually exist? To be fair, Prince Anders isn’t the only new character—Nasim Pedrad will be playing another original character named Mara, who is Jasmine’s friend and handmaiden. But then again, Mara’s character doesn’t represent an unnecessary injection of the very thing people feared would happen with this movie.
Naturally, people on the internet, were not happy about the new character.
It’s not clear how big a role Prince Anders will have in the film, although Magnussen certainly has the chops to have at least a verse to himself. It’s not clear whose decision it was to shoehorn in a white character, but it certainly suggests how little faith there is in the success of a POC cast, as if Prince Anders was a last ditch effort to give white people a reason to see the movie and buy merch that appeals to them.
After all, we all know the importance of seeing yourself in films. I’m just happy that all the little white kids out there can finally have the white Disney prince doll they were never able to have before.