By Kayla Yang
The long-awaited live-action “Mulan” of 2020 that Disney fans had been anticipating was finally released to the public. However, the release of the film brought on more backlash and criticism than excitement. The 200 million dollar budget did not pay off in the box office as it has only received roughly 64.5 million. The live-action brought on a huge loss for Disney as the film essentially flopped.
Before the release of “Mulan,” many fans decided to boycott the film back in 2019 as a result of the main actress Liu Yifei’s controversial political opinion regarding the Hong Kong protests. In August 2019, Yifei expressed, “I support Hong Kong’s police,” on the Chinese social media site Weibo, which brought on a surge of backlash and inspired the boycott of “Mulan.”
Protests have been recurring from Mar. 31, 2019, to the present against Hong Kong’s government and police as citizens fight for democracy. There has been a major conflict between citizens and Hong Kong’s police due to the brutality forced upon them.
A bill introduced to the public by its government sparked the protests. The 2019 Hong Kong extradition bill is formally labeled as The Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation. This bill was proposed to establish a procedure to transfer fugitives not just for Taiwan, but in addition to Mainland China and Macau.
The issue lies within the fact that this law would allow anyone in the city to be detained in Mainland China. Since the orders of the Communist Party would have to be followed, citizens fear this new law could be weaponized to target political activists that the government wants to silence.
The city of Hong Kong has not seen a day go by without an anti-government protest in over 550 days. The timeline of these protests will seemingly be prolonged until the pro-Democratic developments become more established.
Hong Kong’s government had been treading on civil rights for so long that people finally have found the courage to voice a differing opinion. Though protesting can be a dangerous route when meddling with politics, it seems that citizens of Mainland China will not back down from the protests until real change is made.
Since the beginning, what originally was meant to serve as peaceful protesting has erupted into terribly violent confrontations with the Hong Kong police. The people of Hong Kong are facing brutality from police through inhumane force and weaponry.
It seems that the protests in Hong Kong have died down in international news as of 2020. While battling COVID-19 and the reemergence of Black Lives Matter protests as well as political unrest in the US, many have either forgotten or are unaware of what is going on overseas. Pro-democracy protests are happening each and every day in Hong Kong, and it’s important to note the progress they are making. It’s honorable to see citizens actively participate in fighting for what they believe in.
The folktale of Hua Mulan describes how a young female warrior goes into battle while hiding her identity as a woman. She did this in order to save her father from an untimely death as one man from each family was expected to go to war. She fought beside her male counterparts in her father’s place. Mulan stood with her people to fight for the safety of her home.
For Liu Yifei –– a naturalized American citizen –– to support Hong Kong’s communist ideals while ignorantly dismissing how protesters are being attacked at the hands of police is extremely classist. Many rushed to her side to agree with her about how the protests are unnecessary but many of those agreeing with her are living under the Communist Party. Yifei’s comment inspired a huge backlash on social media, as the hashtag #BoycottMulan started trending on Twitter in the Fall of 2019. People called Yifei out on how she could enjoy the freedoms and democracy of becoming an American citizen while also suppressing Hong Kong’s people and protesters for simply fighting for the privileges she already harbors.
Liu Yifei was given the opportunity to honor this iconic female heroine but truthfully does not stand with the same ideals as Mulan would. There is a clear disconnect between Yifei and Mulan, but this would not be the first time Disney disappoints the public with a live-action film. To choose a woman like Liu Yifei to be the face of your blockbuster proves that Disney prioritizes money rather than human rights.
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