The New Mulan Isn’t Asian?!

Yuna Lee and Michelle Rivas

Cover of "Mulan (Special Edition)"
Cover of Mulan (Special Edition)

When people think of Mulan, they think of the first Asian Disney princess. But, there are reasons why many people genuinely like the film and are passionate about it. For one, Mulan ditched the theme of the typical damsel in distress being saved by their knight in shining armor. All of the princesses are supposedly role models for young girls, and yet all of the other movies portray women as problematic and dependent on a man to save them. They do have some good qualities, but in the end, Prince Eric kills Ursula, Hercules saves Meg, Cinderella is pulled out of her misery by Prince Charming, and Snow White is awakened by her true love. On the other hand, Mulan fights for what she believes in and ends up a hero. The movie blurs gender roles and even shows that men don’t always have to be the “strong” gender. 

In the film, there is a scene where the male soldiers dress up as women to serve as a distraction while Mulan, the female protagonist, goes to save the emperor. This also shows that having feminine qualities doesn’t make you inferior or any less capable. While the men were busy trying to break the door down, Mulan used her intellect and thought of a plan. In the end, Mulan and the men helped save China. These important lessons, examples, and more contributed to the decision of the making the live-action version of this inspiring film.

The remake will be released November 2nd, 2018 by Walt Disney Pictures. The cast is still undecided but there have been many firm opinions about choosing the appropriate actresses and actors for the role. Hollywood has had a history of casting only Caucasian actors for ethnic roles, known as whitewashing. Some examples being: Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Cleopatra, Edge Of Tomorrow, and many more.

Hollywood defended themselves by saying that the only reason why Asian-American actors aren’t cast in films is because none of them have a box office track record. People retaliated using the success of the franchise ‘Fast and Furious,’ a movie with a diverse cast as an example. There is also the argument of Ralph  J. Bunche Center, who does African American Studies at the University Of California, found that films with diverse leads not only have higher box office numbers but also have higher returns of investment for studios and producers.

The media does have very strong opinions on this matter, so there was a poll conducted with random people on their opinion of whitewashing in Hollywood films. “I think that it would be so stupid. Part of the reason why [Mulan]’s so heroic is her culture and the movie itself stepping out of norms,” said a store clerk at a local mall. A fellow store clerk also added in, “That’s like saying that Pocahontas is white, it’s just straight up false.” Many people are afraid that Mulan will also be whitewashed; as a result, petitions have been made to protest the same fate that other movies have faced. Fortunately, after whitewashing allegations, Disney responded by assuring the public that the primary roles in Mulan will be Chinese.