𝗖𝗹𝗮𝗿𝗮’𝘀 (𝘆𝗲𝘁 𝗮𝗻𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿) 𝗗𝗶𝘀𝗻𝗲𝘆 𝗥𝗮𝗻𝘁: 𝗠𝘂𝗹𝗮𝗻

Having faced its fair share of backlash regarding the underrepresentation of characters of color and stories from non-European backgrounds, Disney is indubitably a hub of debate when it comes to the creation, representation, or remake of a work of such context. With heavy scrutiny on whether such films do indeed maintain historical/cultural accuracy, Mulan is definitely one that spearheads the debate.

The iconic 1998 Disney film that familiarized us with the tale of the brave female soldier is, in fact, based on an 11th-century Chinese poem - the Ballad of Hua Mulan (木兰诗), which I had the chance to learn and memorize in high school. Unlike many other fictions, it is notable that the story of Mulan has a single original source material which places it in a highly specific context of time and place: the 6th century Wei Dynasty. A distinctly once existent era – not a mythical, fictitious land.

Upon the release of the first trailer, however, what shocked me were the initial reactions of fans. The general sentiment was full of disappointment, with people demanding the presence of the tiny dragon Mushu and the “mystical vibe of the original.” Then came: “WHO CARES about the original story?” “it's disrespectful to the original Disney version.” Disrespectful? Original? The nerve.

I was at a complete loss of words. I couldn't pinpoint a place to start. Then I realized that this matter did not revolve solely around the character Mushu. It instead pointed to an issue much, much fundamental - one ever so deeply embedded in Western culture.

Subtle yet ceaseless, the heavily exoticized, sometimes even patronized representations of the East by the West have ever been prevalent. Laced densely in modern history, the mysticization of the
yimercuryi The 1998 Disney rendition starts off fairly similar to the original yet introduces a fantastical diversion with added characters and plotlines. Though with Western acclaim, Mulan was met with considerable criticism in China primarily due to 1) the heroine's story having veered far from the legend, 2) the arbitrary addition of Mushu and his portrayal having poorly captured a core symbolism in China, and moreover 3) an undue simplification & exotification of Chinese culture as a whole. And as much as I do find Mushu and Cri-Kee adorable, lamentably enough they were synecdoches of all that were mentioned above. With a tale with a clearly existent single source material, curtailing the unnecessary and aligning truer to the source should not be a question of debate but instead a necessity. I'm wholeheartedly in favor of this new remake of Mulan. It's time that Disney broke free from outdated traces of cultural simplification and made genuine progress. - 12-07-2019 02:45:14
sankalpa_bandara_ Nice - 12-07-2019 03:31:52
lvrnnkv I really like it - 12-07-2019 04:29:24
migue_secann Very interesting! And yes, as an American (Latinamerican)I think I was raised with that "mysticalism" about Asian culture and that this thought is everywhere around me and is mostly driven by Hollywood and is something that was normal for me until I read your article and I loved knowing what you (an Asian person) thinks about this. As for Disney, I think it's just a children's movie company that takes real stories already written and adds magic taking them aout of the reality like the Nanny Mcphee case. Mushu is just a magical and yes, mystical character, that disney integrates into the movie as an icon that represents the Asian culture into america, so i’m no agree with some things but i would love keep talking about this in person! - 12-07-2019 05:06:51
yimercuryi @migue_secann first, I personally think regarding Disney just as a “children’s movie company” is a dangerous notion, since that very idea could be used to justify the messages they convey / diminish the potential drawbacks they could cause “because it’s just a children’s movie.” and second, what they thought was a representation of Asian culture was in fact NOT a correct representation, and that’s why it becomes all the more problematic (and what this entire post is about). giving children these stereotypical Orientalist images via a children’s movie is exactly why it’s all the more dangerous in my opinion. - 12-07-2019 05:23:32
paniikim @yimercuryi - 12-07-2019 05:24:43
migue_secann @yimercuryi ur right - 12-07-2019 05:27:14
mirabdulrahman - 12-07-2019 05:58:45
2_kyungseo 인친님~ 맞팔 부탁드립니다! - 12-07-2019 07:32:40