People are calling for a boycott of Disney’s Mulan in solidarity with Hong Kong protesters

Split image of a sea of protesters in Hong Kong and actress Liu Yifei in Disney's live action Mulan
Afroze Fatima Zaidi

On Friday 4 August, Disney released its live-action remake of the animated classic Mulan on its streaming platform Disney Plus. While the entertainment giant has been heavily promoting the release, many pro-democracy supporters in East Asia got #BoycottMulan trending at the same time.

In August 2019, the main lead, Chinese actress Liu Yifei, came under fire for publicly supporting the Hong Kong police amidst their brutal crackdown against pro-democracy protesters. Calls for boycotting the film arose at the time, and have been renewed with the release of the film:

 

And similar criticism has also been made of fellow actor Donnie Yen:

International solidarity

Supporters from other East Asian nations also came forward to show solidarity:

Melbourne-based human rights activist James Lee Proudfoot told The Canary that the call for a boycott has served as an important tool to raise awareness around the Hong Kong protests:

I see #BoycottMulan as an extremely useful tool for raising awareness about police brutality and the plight of Hong Kongers.

For some, supporting human rights and democracy can seem as lofty and abstract, but by grounding it in a narrative we make it visceral and concrete.

Given Liu Yifei’s status as a celebrity we are also able to generate significant interest and reach audiences who might not be familiar with the situation in Hong Kong.

Your meme is strong

Of course, the memes have come out in full force:

In particular, memes depicted an act of solidarity by protesters who wore an eye patch. This was in response to a woman who suffered a serious eye injury as a result of police brutality:

People are sharing memes such as the one above of Mulan wearing an eye patch and face mask. It’s an ode to both Mulan’s struggle for justice and Hong Kong protesters during the pandemic.

The spirit of Mulan

One of the reasons for the call to boycott appears to be linked to the story of Mulan herself, and its message of defiance. Mulan, according to the Chinese legend, broke formally imposed rules in order to do what’s right and fight for justice. This doesn’t seem too far removed from protesters disrupting the peace and taking direct action in order to demand their rights in Hong Kong.

Speaking to The Canary, writer and actor Daniel York Loh said:

Of course not every actor can embody their character’s values. But Mulan is essentially a story of a rebel warrior woman who fights to defend her community. How can we watch actors portraying this story who actively support the brutal suppression of human rights in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet and Southern Mongolia – from a position of extreme privilege and even a US passport?

In the same vein, some people have used the hashtag to call attention to protester Agnes Chow Ting, who was arrested and recently convicted for “inciting protesters”.

The big picture

What we watch is about so much more than entertainment. By consuming media, we implicitly show our support for it, and it therefore speaks to our values and worldview. Rather than just being empty entertainment, the media we consume can be an endorsement of the world in which we want to live.

We have the power, as viewers, to send a message to Disney, the actors in Mulan, and the Hong Kong administration. We may love Mulan, but we reject attacks on protesters and police brutality.

Featured image via YouTube – Vox / Twitter – Mulan

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  • Show Comments
    1. I see the Canary still supports the Bash China side without any hint of any double standards nor hypocrisy. Joshua Wong together with other young HK protesters are simply vacuous & idiotic, totally unaware that Honkies never enjoyed any democratic freedoms under British rule, & then to break into public buildings under the Stars & Stripes! What’s the Yanks ever got to do with it?! + beating up civilians (going so far as to kill one) & police who were far more restrained than those in the US.
      The PRC actions were in line with the Joint Declaration. Below are some links to others who are better informed & prepared to stick up for law & order. I’ll post more stuff later if I have time, also to see if the Canary will censor this alternative view [as they’d done in the past on my reply about the other bogey (Xinjiang). Free speech! Yeh, right]
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWhnwCxSQcY
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQx5NKAfueg
      Danny Haiphong (Black Agenda Report, from 45:35)
      A single Chinese student standing up to these idiots:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_SqKY5haqg

      1. Seriously? If you’re supporting the actions of the HK Police and you’ve previously stuck up for Winnie the Pooh you’re either brain dead or being paid by The Chinese. I’ve spoken with many people from HK in the last 6 months who are relocating here. Each and everyone had horror stories about the HK Police and the PRC.
        And I sincerely doubt The Canary censored you. I am the most vocal critic on here of their writers, articles and ideologies; but they have never censored me. Not once and for that I commend them.

        1. Yes, seriously. I can say most definitely the Canary blocked my first post on Xinjiang rebutting their wild claims but they let my less comprehensive ones through.
          Seriously, look at the links I posted – these are obs from people who also, like your HK friends, live there. Ask them about these.
          Some more short ones – I’ll try to root out more detailed discussions. Pretty obvious it’s all about the bigger picture of trying to contain China [qui bono?]
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36I5hl5BwdE
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5JbM5V9_Lw
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2-9o-kmVzM

            1. Hello frank – I’m pleased to see the Canary has reinstated your post. I shan’t be dipping back into this thread much longer as it’s more or less run its course & I have no form of notification should anyone reply. Anyhow, I assume you’ve looked at the links I’ve posted on this article. This one from RT is more a general discussion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAZS4r7XVXc&t=370s
              You mentioned elsewhere that you subscribe to the Canary for independent media [IMO it’s mediocre a best]. Try http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/
              I’ve been an early subscriber & supporter since the 2000s. RT is also informative, CGTN is ok altho they have a long way to improve.
              All the best.

      1. Hi Oldie
        I’ve just posted a further reply to Dianesrightshoe & got this Canary msg:
        “Your comment is awaiting approval. This is a preview, your comment will be visible after it has been approved.”
        Let’s see if they’ll block this reply too [like they did on the Xinjiang topic].

    2. There has been so much violence perpetrated by the Hong Kong protesters that the western media has not even tried to deny it and instead has justified it. Compare that to the BLM protest of which over 90% have been peaceful, and with the ones that are violent, it is usually the police that have started the violence.
      I saw a clip of film where a man who went talk with the protesters (in Hong Kong) had petrol thrown on him and he was set alight while the other protesters just laughed! Neither this article or the BBC one that came out yesterday(that this one appears to be based on) mentioned that. If someone did that on a BLM protest the protesters would hand him over to the police!

      I contribute to the Canary so that I can see news which otherwise would not appear in the regular media, but this appears to have been nicked off the BBC. Perhaps the Canary should look into the influence of the US and British consoles are having on the protests, and compare the numbers of people killed by the US police with the numbers (if any) of people killed by Hong Kong police.

      1. frank – this is my second attempt at replying to you [first awaiting approval by the gatekeepers] & I’ll keep it brief.
        Firstly my apologies. I accidentally hit the ‘Report comment’ on your reply to my post to diane above & it seemed to have deleted your reply. I can confirm that the Canary has blocked my last reply to diane [second time that I’ve been censored]. I recently came across two young lads who are more clued up about the real situation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MeCVf2n7kw

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