The hashtag #MakeMulanRight went viral after fans of the Chinese story criticized Disney for its alleged plan to pair the heroine with a European sailor. An alleged screenplay for the new Disney film recently leaked on the Angry Asian Man website. As per the information, the live-action remake will not focus on Mulan’s quest to protect her family but on her love story with a “white” man. When American actor Joel de la Fuente supported the claims, the reactions became unstoppable. Glee star Harry Shum Jr. also supported the hashtag.
@angryasianman I can back you up on what you’re saying. I confirm everything you said about that draft.
— Joel de la Fuente (@joeldelafuente) October 10, 2016
As per the leaked screenplay, a trader, whose main concerns are women and money, changed his ways upon setting eyes on Mulan. He makes the decision to help the Chinese Imperial Army because he wants to win the affection of Mulan. The leaked script details that the man will eventually get the honor for saving the day.
The author, who chose to be anonymous, talked about being “deeply disturbed” because Disney’s plan gives the notion that cultural stories cannot stand on their own without the presence of a Western character. The writer urges Disney to stay true to the 1998 film if the studio doesn’t want to face an “avalanche of backlash.”
“We expect it to be a thoroughly respectful homage to that Mulan. That Mulan had intricacy and depth as she struggled between honoring her father and finding her place in the world. And most certain of all, that Mulan did not need a white man to help fight her battles and give her a kiss at the end.”
The writer maintains that Disney’s beloved classic is all about Mulan realizing her capabilities even if she did not initially fit into China’s mold of a perfect daughter. Mulan, the writer says, must revolve around a young girl’s determination to defy gender expectations and ultimately prove that she has the power to be brave.
Fans cried out to Disney to stop its plan to “whitewash” the story. They have likewise complained that introducing a dominant male lead might distract the audience from Mulan’s tale of courage.
To show how determined they are to “make Mulan right,” a petition urging Disney to not “whitewash” Mulan has emerged. At the time of writing, more than 110,000 people have already signed the petition. Oanh Nhi Nguyen, a digital campaigner, told CNN that if Disney indeed plans to “whitewash” Mulan, it would make Asian stories look weak.
“When our stories are never told by and for us, we become mere stereotypes and that harm us. It is a systemic issue in media diversity that requires change. We need meaningful representation on screen, in writing rooms, and in executive leadership.”
As per the group, even if Disney enlists an all-Asian cast, this step will be useless if the scriptwriting team won’t have an Asian writer. The fans’ strong reactions prompted Disney to tell Vanity Fair that the leaked script was merely a speculative one. The publication’s source said that all lead roles, including Mulan’s love interest, would be Chinese.
“The spec script was a jumping-off point for a new take on the story that draws from both the literary ballad of Mulan and Disney’s 1998 animated film. Mulan is and will always be the lead character in the story, and all primary roles, including the love interest, are Chinese.”
“Whitewashing” of Asian stories remains a controversial issue in the film industry. The issue has intensified following the “inappropriate” casting of several characters such as the selection of Scarlett Johansson for the Japanese tale Ghost in the Shell and even Tilda Swinton for Doctor Strange.
Disney’s The Legend of Mulan is set to come out in 2018.
[Featured Image by Disney]