As an Asian-American, I feel as though Hollywood has set out on a mission to thoroughly disappoint us, especially this year.
I don’t know if this is true of not, but the pre-production live-action Mulan script added a new white male character to save China and fall in love with Mulan. I have a lot of problems with this and so should you.
- Why must Hollywood re-write China’s history to insert a white male savior? Take for example, “The Great Wall” starring Matt Damon. China does not need to be saved by a white man especially since we have our own warriors such as Mulan.
- This leads me to my next point. Why is it that Elsa from Frozen, a cartoon character, can be independent and doesn’t need a man, but an actual strong Asian female warrior needs to be loved by a white man? Nowadays, there is a trending theme of the independent woman; why can’t Mulan, a certified badass, be a part of it?
- Yet, I also wonder with the addition of this new white male character, what will happen to General Shang? I understand that a movie might call upon a love story to draw in some audience members. In the Disney cartoon, you have something like that with Mulan and General Shang.
Oh no, is this going to be a love triangle now? Please, don’t! As I ask this question, I become sick, realizing that this movie will no longer be about how heroic our Mulan is, especially if it becomes a love triangle. I feel queasy thinking about it.
Hollywood has over and over again undermined and desexualized Asian men. They are seemed as uncool, asexual, and weak. General Shang is nothing like that. This movie isn’t just for Asian-American girls who can’t see themselves portrayed in the mainstream media; this movie can also be for Asian-American boys. It’s a chance to tell them – they aren’t invisible; they aren’t always the dork or side character but can be the athletic and attractive lead. (Taking a detour, does anyone else think Mike Bow reminds them of a real-life General Shang?)
- Onto my last and most significant question: why aren’t we enough? Why can’t we, be the narrators of our own story? According to Hollywood, even Bruce Lee, a fucking legend, needs to have his story told by a white narrator because if not, it will scare away the white audience. Then, there’s the constant lame excuse of – there are no bankable Asian male actors. First of all, who has insured that there are no bankable Asian male actors, Hollywood?
This isn’t just an Asian-American thing. It affects all minorities in the USA. We are tired of being told we are not enough. We are tired of being told that our stories will be left unheard unless there is a white savior or narrator. When will it end?
- 4½. If Disney removes this newly written white character and properly cast Mulan and General Shang, I promise to forget how in “The Martian” Dr. Venkat Kapoor changed to Vincent Kapoor in the film is played by Chiwetel Ejiofor or how in the same movie, Mindy Park, a Korean-American, is played by Mackenzie Davis. I even promise to forget how in “Dr. Strange” the Ancient One who is of Tibetan descent is played by Tilta Swinton. Should I continue? Because, it seems that as long as an originally Asian character is played by another minority or a white woman, we should just sit down and keep our mouths shut. “Aloha”, anyone?
As a child, I remember proudly saying that Mulan was my favorite Disney princess (though she technically wasn’t) because she was the only one I could connect and relate to. Since then, Disney has taken great strides in introducing an array of Disney princesses from different backgrounds, and with this live-action movie, cementing Mulan’s status as a Disney princess.
I am an adult now. I am not longer a child happy that we have a somewhat Disney princess. If Disney is going to mess with Mulan and make it into a live-action film. I pray to all the higher powers out there that they don’t screw up and sabotage a happy childhood memory of mine and many other Asian-American girls.
Last thought: I know that the only example I provided deal with whitewashing Asian stories (don’t get me started on that terrible Bruce Lee biopic again) or whitewashing Asian roles. However, this is an issue that affects all minorities as we asks Hollywood – why aren’t we enough? Why can’t we tell our own stories? Why is it that an all white-cast film is a movie for all, but suddenly when two similar minorities are cast, it becomes a ‘for minorities only film’.
I am so confused and disappointed in Hollywood. Should I still have faith in Mulan? Do you?