The Political Controversies of “Mulan”

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Credit: Getty Images via Forbes

If you were a 2000s kid, you have almost definitely seen the animated Disney classic Mulan. Mulan tells the story of a brave young girl who volunteers to serve in the army to save her father’s life. She disguises as a man, is eventually found out, kicked out of the army, and still saves China in the end. The music is great, the moral of the story empowered many little girls of the time and continues to do so today.
This year, Disney released a live-action remake of Mulan. There were mixed reviews of the movie; some people thought it was a good remake despite the removal of Li Shang and Mushu, and others felt these characters sort of made the movie what it was. Others lamented at the lack of songs in the film. This is not the controversy I will be covering, however. I will be covering controversies that are much more political.
The remake was filmed in multiple locations throughout China, but the most controversial among them is Xinjiang. Currently, in Xinjiang, Chinese-Muslims are being held in detention centers for “re-education.” There are at least 85 such centers in Xinjiang. Many Muslims have spoken against these camps for violence and abuse. In the end credits for the film, Disney extends “special thanks” to Xinjiang and to the offices in charge of Chinese Communist Party propaganda that are located there. Disney also shared the script for 2020’s Mulan to make sure their film could be released in China, where it could be foreseen that a decent profit could be made. Many people are angered that Disney would film in an area so blatantly violating human rights.
There is also controversy surrounding the actress playing the title role of Mulan, Liu Yifei. There have been many protests and riots by Hong Kong citizens wanting their independence from China. Liu has voiced her support for the Hong Kong police over the protestors, gaining much criticism.
The Mulan remake has been the center of more political controversies than probably any other Disney movie ever. That isn’t to say the movie is inherently bad as far as content goes, but the ethics of the movie are certainly contentious.