Pop Culture & Entertainment: Mulan
by Quinn Larkin '22
In other news, Mulan, Disney’s big-budget live-action remake of the original, classic title, came out. With movie theatres being closed, and people being scared to leave their homes, it seemed like the perfect time to release their movie on their own new streaming service Disney Plus. Disney, along with other production companies are having a hard time filming movies, with it being apparent COVID is affecting production as seen onset of the new Batman movie. “The Batman” had been halted due to a positive coronavirus test from a crew member, the inflicted person has been revealed: the film’s star, British actor Robert Pattinson.”
The controversy first sparked when Disney announced that it would be thirty dollars to rent, on top of the initial ten every month for Disney Plus. This was made worse by the fact that Artemis Fowl, another movie coming to the service, would not cost them extra money. “We will be offering Disney+ subscribers the epic adventure Mulan on Disney+ on a Premier Access-basis beginning September 4. The price point will be $29.99 in the U.S., and will vary slightly in other countries.” Many were outraged on the price point citing the price point along with their cooperation with the Chinese Communist Party. One said, “Do NOT pay $30 to see Mulan. I mean I could of said that without seeing the movie because of $%#&% the CCP but holy ^&%$, what a letdown.”
I don’t think I have to explain why people don’t like the Chinese government, however, Disney didn’t seem to echo this. Lead actor in the movie Yifei Liu has made controversial statements in the past, such as showing her support for the government with the illegal annexation of Hong Kong. She said on Weibo, a Chinese social media that she has 65 million followers (in Chinese), “I also support Hong Kong police. You can beat me up now.” She then added in English “What a shame for Hong Kong”* with a heart emoji at the end.
When the film came out, it received incredibly low reviews for a big-budget Disney princess movie, scoring a 5.7 on IMDB, 67 on Metacritic, and an average rating of 3 on Rotten Tomatoes. Apparently, it lacked what made the original film good. The original film was a very loose interpretation of the source material, ‘The Ballad of Mulan’, and was not well received in China as it was inaccurate. Mulan (2020) is a much more faithful retelling of the story but lacks what made it popular in the west. “One of the casualties in the live-action Mulan was the colorful cast of supporting characters, who are reduced to almost nothing. While some characters are cut outright, such as Eddie Murphy’s dragon guardian Mushu and Li Shang, almost all of Mulan's fellow soldiers have a significantly smaller part as well. In the animated film, her relationships with them are well-developed, as can be seen in the songs "I'll Make A Man Out Of You" and "A Girl Worth Fighting For." In the live-action Mulan, almost none of the soldiers get any meaningful development, except for a few moments with Mulan's new love interest, Chen Honghui.
Lastly, and most controversial of all, Disney thanked Xinjiang authorities for their help in making the film. This is noteworthy of course because the authorities there are accused of many human rights abuses. Xinjiang is known for being the main place of China’s ‘Reeducation Camps’, where Uighur muslims are brought to learn to love their leader and the Communist party, or else. According to the U.S Senate, “Since April 2017, Chinese authorities have detained at least 800,000, and possibly more than 2 million, Uighurs and members of other Muslim minorities in internment camps for indefinite periods of time.”
#BoycottMulan was trending on Twitter when the film first came to U.S audiences on September 4th. According to one user, “Mulan specifically thanks the publicity department of CPC Xinjiang uyghur autonomous region committee in the credits. You know, the place where the cultural genocide is happening. They filmed extensively in Xinjiang, which the subtitles call “Northwest China” #BoycottMulan”
With all of these things adding up, it is no wonder why the movie reviewed so poorly, and Disney will surely have to decide which audience they really want, the west or the east.