• Maryam Fatima

Mulan, Muslims, and the Disney Dilemma

Updated: Dec 11, 2020

(Image: movie poster from the Disney live-action remake: Mulan (2020))

Like many people, I grew up with Disney. It’s made up some of my fondest childhood memories. I’ve seen all their Pixar animated films, their TV shows, their cartoons, and of course, all the princess movies.

And you want to know what my absolute favorite Disney princess movie of all time is? You guessed it. Mulan.

I loved everything about the 1998 animated film. From the heroism and selflessness displayed by the main character to its comedic moments, beautiful plot, and amazing soundtrack. To me, it easily stood out from the other Disney princess movies, especially the more “diverse” ones like Aladdin and The Princess and the Frog. For once, the princess isn’t some damsel in distress who needed to be rescued by her own prince charming, but quite the opposite. She was a warrior who disguised herself as a man in order to take her father’s place in the army, since the latter was too sick to participate. She was a devoted daughter who chose to risk her own life in order to save her father’s. In contrast to other Disney princesses, Mulan’s motivations had nothing to do with her “true love” or a desire to get married, but rather, her family.

This is just a brief description as to why the 1998 Mulan holds such a dear place in my heart. So naturally, when I heard that a live remake of the movie was going to come out soon, I was ecstatic. I had high expectations for it. I couldn’t care less about other Disney live-action remakes, Mulan was the only one I really wanted to see. She was my favorite Disney princess after all.

But when I heard that there were scenes from the live-action remake that were filmed in Xinjiang, AKA, the place where millions of Uighurs are being rounded up and locked in internment camps, I was utterly devastated. Just like that, all the excitement I’ve been feeling waiting to watch the new film was shattered into pieces.

And not only that, but the lead actress in Mulan has also expressed support on social media for the police crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

These revelations have sparked a “boycott Mulan” movement on social media, and rightfully so. It is shameful to hear that Disney has chosen to turn a blind eye to clear human rights abuses for the sake of monetary gain. There are so many other places in the world where they could have filmed, yet they chose Xinjiang, a place where human rights abuses against Muslims have been clearly documented (even back in 2018, when filming for this movie first began).

I am very disappointed to say that because of these reasons, I will not be watching the new Mulan. I will not be supporting a cast and crew who have expressed support for police brutality in Hong Kong. I will not be supporting a company who prioritized money and profit over human rights. I wish I didn't have to say this, but I feel like I have no choice. It needs to be said.

We need to continue to spread awareness of the human rights abuses in Xinjiang and call out companies, celebrities, and anyone in power who chooses to blatantly disregard them. This is absolutely unacceptable.

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