Walt Disney Pictures’s latest live action remake of Mulan has created much buzz on the ground even before it was first made widely available on 4 September. Despite much fanfare, the show is gaining attention for all the wrong reasons. Calls for giving Mulan the cold-shoulder have been gaining traction since last year – long before its release.
Successive Calls For Boycott
First calls for the boycott of Mulan began on 14 August 2019, when lead actress Liu Yifei expressed her support for the Hong Kong police in light of the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests.
Mulan actress shares a post on Weibo. The Chinese words in the picture reads: “I support the Hong Kong police, you can beat me up now”. Source: BBC
This came as the Hong Kong police were accused of using unnecessary force to quell protests, even hurting bystanders in the process. Netizens thus called for the boycott interpreting Liu’s action as support for police brutality.
On 1 July 2020, calls for the boycott were renewed when Mulan lead actor Donnie Yen commemorated the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China on Facebook.
Boycott Mulan Yet Again
At this point, #BoycottMulan has more remakes than Mulan itself. After the film was released, keen-eyed viewers noticed that the film credited a number of Chinese governmental agencies in the Xinjiang province of China. Xinjiang is currently under scrutiny for the illegal detention and human rights violations of the Uighur minority population.
Disney’s move to film in the controversial region was widely viewed as a silent support for the Chinese government’s violations. In fact, Mulan is reported to have been filmed near 10 of such internment camps and 5 prisons.
Why Mulan May Still Be Worth Watching
In spite of the whirlwind of controversy, Mulan has received positive reviews from the film critics. At point of writing Mulan garnered a 75% rating on the Tomatometer, Variety magazine claims that the film ‘deserves the biggest screen possible’
For the social justice warriors out there, the film may be worth a second thought as Mulan has also been touted as one of few Hollywood blockbusters with Asian leads and a predominantly Asian cast. As conversations of diversity and whitewashing in films have come to the fore in recent years, Mulan’s casting choices are respectable. Nonetheless, those with a bone to pick may still point to the choice of hiring of a White director, Niki Caro, over an Asian director as something left to be desired. As Metro writes, Mulan ‘is too white behind the camera’
So, would you watch this latest Disney movie?