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I’m Chinese American and I Hope Disney Never Releases ‘Mulan’

Disney pushed Mulan’s release date back for the third time, following coronavirus worsening again. This time, the movie is postponed indefinitely. 

The company has pushed many movies back due to movie theater closures. This is because these movies aren’t stream friendly. In other words, the company projects that people wouldn’t flock to Disney+ just to watch Mulan, or any of the other movies. However, they project that the movies could make over a million dollars through the box office. 

Mulan is a special movie to me. It is the only Disney movie that represents my culture and features a princess who looks like me. In my Chinese American community, it was a regular choice to play at parties and gatherings. It was the sole movie reminding Chinese kids that they belonged, in some way, to America. 

Since Mulan’s release, Asian American representation in Hollywood has been slow. There was Fresh Off the Boat, a TV show about the struggles in Asian American life. A few other films I enjoyed included Crazy Rich Asians, which featured an entire Asian cast. The Farewell, by Lulu Wang, explores the deep nature of how Chinese people deal with imminent death. No one can forget Parasite, the South Korean thriller which took four Oscars, including best picture. Many of my idols are Asian American actors: Sandra Oh, Constance Wu and Awkwafina are among them. 

I’m here for Asian representation in movies. I watched Crazy Rich Asians more times than I could count. But even though the cast for Mulan features many Asian actors, I have trouble digesting how Disney could have picked Liu Yifei to portray the strong, freedom-loving character. 

As Hong Kong protests continue to rock China, protestors are trying their best to keep Hong Kong separate from a power hungry China. Though the protests were peaceful, police interfered quickly. Since then, the streets of Hong Kong have seen some of the most brutal fighting in years. The Chinese government hopes to crush Hong Kong’s freedoms. President Donald Trump implemented a bill removing Hong Kong’s trade privileges with the United States, another move in the wrong direction for helping Hong Kong. 

My family’s struggles with the Chinese government span years. Though I am proud to be Chinese and embrace my Chinese self, I can’t stand for the system. The government forced my grandpa to work during the cultural revolution in a labor camp, didn’t allow my grandma to attend school and created an environment of poverty for my mom. So, being Chinese American is a massive privilege: getting to embrace a more accepting and Democracy-based government is much better than what China could offer me. 

And this is the exact problem with casting Liu Yifei. The actress said in a post that she fully stands with the Hong Kong Police, the same ones who try to rip freedom from Hong Kong residents daily. Disney chose this actress to portray the fearless Mulan. She plays the girl who sacrificed for her family, was compassionate, highly skilled and willing to fight corruption. Mulan challenged the oppressive government, Liu Yifei embraces it. 

Not supporting Mulan saddens me. After all, when the announcements were first made, I was looking forward to adding it to my list of favorite Asian portrayed films. But I understand the privileges America has given me. My right to vote, my freedom of speech and my freedom of the press wouldn’t be existent back in my native country. And while growing up, I would have loved to see a real princess on television looking just like me, I understand the sacrifices that were made for me. More importantly, I value Mulan’s true principles over an actress who doesn’t embody them. 

Mulan is a step backwards for Disney and the movie making industry. Constance Wu and Sandra Oh both embrace their respective cultures while simultaneously moving the needle forward. The two actresses, along with many others, fight for avid representation and stand up for freedom. They give their characters life, personality and dreams. Liu Yifei stifles Mulan.

So, I hope Disney never releases their current version of Mulan. It’s too painful to see a great character go to flames because of the actress who portrays her. If Mulan comes out, I’ll be watching Crazy Rich Asians. 

Featured Image via Nikicaro  

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Written By

Joanna Hou is a 17 year old high school student based in San Diego, California. She is passionate about current events, law, and politics. She is an avid writer, journalist, and musician (euphonium and flute). In her spare time, she enjoys reading and boba.

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