The ‘Mulan’ boycott is misguided

The ‘Mulan’ boycott is misguided

The ‘Mulan’ boycott is misguided
August 28
15:19 2019

If you’ve opened Twitter recently you might have noticed the disdain for Yifei Liu, the new live-action “Mulan” star. Liu took to her social media and posted “I support Hong Kong police. You can beat me up now.” The phrase is associated with Global Times reporter Fu Guohao, who was assaulted by protestors at the Hong Kong airport after making that same statement.

Her post seems robotic, especially because other Chinese celebrities such as actor Jackie Chan and singer Yixing Zhang have posted the same message in support of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong protests that began in June show no signs of stopping. The protests were largely influenced by the proposed extradition law, which would put the government in a position to be able to detain Hong Kong residents who disagree with the regime. There have been numerous reports of police being too brutal towards peaceful protestors. Police have used tear gas, rubber bullets and beanbags, while also forcefully arresting some protestors. In response to this, the protests later turned into a movement against the government and police brutality.

Now that you’re all caught up, it might be jarring to think someone would be in support of the Hong Kong police considering all of this going on.

But what does that have to do with the live-action remake of “Mulan?” Not much. People seem to want Liu to be a hero and live up to Mulan’s standard by being in support of the protests.  At the end of the day, she’s not actually Mulan. We need to learn to separate an actor’s online views and demeanor from a character they’re playing. Liu’s statements or views don’t equate to those of Mulan.

Actively speaking against the government could go badly for Liu and her career, however. Chinese stars like Denise Ho and Anthony Wong have been blacklisted from the Chinese market for expressing support for a pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. However, Liu gained support for the movie in China amidst the backlash in other regions. Showing support for the protestors would’ve done the opposite.  

There’s been an argument going around that this could taint Disney’s image. If Disney cared, would they really have rehired James Gunn as director for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3″ after his controversial pedophilic tweets resurfaced? Although the backlash isn’t a good look for her, she will recover. Liu may not have been at Disney’s D23 expo this weekend, but it likely will not mean her being removed from the movie. After all nobody has seen the movie yet, either. 

Projects involve more than just the starring role. Boycotting or canceling it will only hurt others who put just as much work into it as the leading star.

Despite all this though, “Mulan” will allow for more Asian representation in the media. Watching the movie in theaters will not mean you are against human rights, either. If the movie does not do well, it is Disney after all, so it probably will. But it could mean less representation in the future. You do not have to support her as a person, but do not drag down those behind the scenes who worked hard on the project.

Featured Illustration: Jae-Eun Suh

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Natalie Thomas

Natalie Thomas

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