I bit my tongue when they had Emma Stone portray an Asian American woman in Aloha, and I tried not to throw a bitch fit when that racist douchelord reporter went to Chinatown and treated everyone like garbage. I try not to blog about serious topics and pick my battles, because honestly, a lot of stuff in this world makes me mad, and I think it would be an endless stream of criticisms, complaints, and outrage. And I don’t really think you guys want to hear about all of that. But I didn’t blog about either of those things, because there was this terrible gut feeling telling me to pick my battles…because a big one was coming.
And it has arrived.
I love Mulan. My friends say that I am Mulan (not because of the whole Asian woman thing, but because of the strong, determined, resilient, bad ass aspect. Or so I would like to think). When I was a little girl, and looking for a role model in tv and movies, it was tremendously hard because there was no Asian American woman on that TV screen. The other princesses were deemed beautiful and graceful because they were blonde, with pale white skin, two things that I did not have. The only two animated Asian women that graced my television screen were Mulan and Trixie Tang.
Trixie Tang was lusted after and deemed exotic, beautiful, and unique because she was an Asian woman.
Mulan was a complete and utter bad ass, literally creating her own destiny without the help of any man. No man bailed her out, and no guy saved her, unlike the other Disney movies. Mulan saved not only herself, but all of China. She took responsibility, and defied all odds. She brought honor to her family, and she defied all expectations to become a weak, fragile little lilypad. People didn’t respect her because she was an “exotic beauty,” like they fawned over the other Disney princesses, but they respected her because she was independent, fierce, and unstoppable. Mulan was the strong female role model that I looked up to, even now as a twenty one year old woman.
People have this terrible expectation that Asian women are obedient, subservient, and fragile little flowers. Asian women are fetishized, disrespected, and viewed like sexual objects. It’s disgusting, and gross, and why it made me even more upset about what Disney did to the Mulan movie.
Not only is Mulan secondary to a MAN in her own movie, but she is lowered to being a prize to be won, by this white man who saves China just to impress her.
“The man is a 30-something European trader who initially cares only for the pleasure of women and money. The only reason why he and his entourage decide to help the Chinese Imperial Army is because he sets eyes on Mulan. That’s right. Our white savior has come to the aid of Ancient China due to a classic case of Yellow Fever. In this script written by Lauren Hynek and Elizabeth Martin, more than half of its pages are dedicated to this merchant who develops a mutual attraction with Mulan and fights to protect her in the ensuing battles. To top it all off, this man gets the honor of defeating the primary enemy of China, not Mulan. Way to steal a girl’s thunder.”
Mulan is no longer the hero, not only does she step back, but she is depicted as a woman who needs to be saved and helped by a man. She is no longer the strong, powerful woman that I (and many other people) look up to, but she is depicted as an object to be won by the white man.
And honestly, as an Asian American woman, I must ask, do we really need to be sending the message to young Asian girls that they don’t need to fight or stand strong, and that a white man will come save them? Is that really the message Disney should be sending?
It was bad enough to make a hero step back, but to make her be saved by a white man, because she’s a prize? Ridiculous.
What makes this whole thing even more disgusting is that Mulan is supposed to be seventeen, and they are going to cast a teenage actress. At least they won’t try to pass off Emma Stone as an Asian woman?
I’m not going to ask if an Asian woman contributed to this movie, because I know that’s a no. Or if an Asian PERSON in general was consulted.
Were any WOMEN collaborating on this film? I don’t understand how Disney thinks this is an acceptable idea, and why they thinking diminishing such a strong character would be a good idea. It’s sexist, and it’s honestly infuriating that this is what happened to Mulan.