Disney’s 1998 Mulan has always beloved. But its latest Live-Action Remake has stirred controversy from thousands.
by Keya Thota
Mulan. The brave warrior turned savior of China, is one of the most iconic animated Disney princesses. But the new Disney Live-action (based on the original movie) has stirred up controversy in social media over the recent week.
The Mulan film, released last Friday on Disney+, has been attacked for giving “Special Thanks" to the Chinese Government in its credits. The Xinjiang Province (where parts of the movie were filmed) is accused of having more than a million Uighur Muslims in concentration camps.
The now trending #boycottmulan has numerous arguments from different sides of the spectrum.
Here’s where the trilemma is presented: Should the movie Mulan be boycotted or should it not? Or is there a neutral perspective? Let’s find out.
Mulan Should be Boycotted
The 1998 animated film remake has come under fire for thanking the "Publicity Department of CPC Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Committee" in its end credits. The authorities in Xinjiang have been
accused of creating the "modern-day holocaust" regarding the millions of oppressed Uighur Muslims.
The Uighurs, “a Muslim and Turkik-speaking minority group in China who currently occupy the western part of Xinjiang” are part of one of the largest modern cultural genocides. Plagued by constant surveillance, arrests, and labor camps passed off to the rest of the
world as “re-education camps”, the Uighurs suffer through horrifying ordeals on a daily basis. Their plight has been heard by millions around the world and has sparked outrage on social media.
The filming of the movie (in 2018) along with China’s heightened “re-education”
propaganda coincided in the same year. Additionally, the lead actress of the movie, Liu Yifei, commented in the
Chinese app Weibo (in 2019) saying, “I also support Hong Kong police. You can beat me up now,” angering thousands (conflicts between the students and police in Hong Kong have been prevalent in recent years).
Crediting the city was the last straw for many and has led to numerous calls boycotting watching the movie or removing it from Disney + altogether.
Mulan Should not be Boycotted
Like in most conflicts, this argument has another side as well.
Christine McCarthy, Disney’s head of finance, acknowledged the controversy and the backlash during the 2020 Bank of America Virtual Conference. She said, “Let me just put something into context. The real facts are that Mulan was primarily shot—almost in entirety—in New Zealand. In an effort to accurately depict some of the unique landscape and geography of the country of China for this period drama, we filmed scenery in 20 different locations in China. It’s common knowledge that, in order to film in China, you have to be granted permission. That permission comes from the central government. It’s common to acknowledge in a film’s credits the national and local governments that allowed you to film there. So, in our credits, it recognized both China and locations in New Zealand. I would just leave it at that, but it has generated a lot of issues for us.”
Others, like McCarthy, try to reason with the situation and claim that it’s blown out of proportion. They call it a misunderstanding and choose to watch the movie either way. Some believe that the actress’s comments on the Hong Kong Protests don’t influence the movie. Some others believe that if the movie is being boycotted, other materials/goods exported from the Xinjiang Province should be as well.
Comments on Instagram:
The Neutral Stance
It can be assumed that it was not Disney’s intention to support the oppression against the Uighur Muslims. Referring to McCarthy’s statement, the film was mostly filmed in New Zealand and with some scenery shots in China to maintain cultural context.
But on the other hand, Disney should have been more aware of the Uighur Muslim issue and had made a statement regarding their stance with the Chinese government on an earlier basis.
In the end, your opinion matters. Does Liu Yifei’s perspective on the Hong Kong protests influence your decision to watch the movie?
Is this coincidence worth boycotting a 2-hour film for a 2-second end credit? Or is it worth it, to boycott the 2-hour film for the 2 year-long torture the Uighur Muslims have been put through?