Hollywood studios aren't particularly applauded for being racially inclusive. So when China's first real-life Disney princess is about to hit the screens, why shouldn't everyone happily raise a toast? The short memory rule doesn't really apply here since even though it was in 2019, when Liu Yifei, the film's star, hurt the popular public sentiment, with comments that were perceived as supporting the Hong Kong police.
For those unaware, 2019 marked huge protests and several months of demonstration in Hong Kong against a law that allowed extradition from Hong Kong to mainland China. It was during this period of public unrest that Chinese-born American citizen actress Liu Yifei shared a post from a Beijing newspaper and government's mouthpiece People's Daily that said, "I support the Hong Kong police. You can all attack me now. What a shame for Hong Kong."
It didn't take long for the hashtag #BoycottMulan to start trending on Twitter and it also didn't take a lot for the activists to remind everyone of Liu Yifei's statement.
While Thai and Taiwanese activists are telling people, by invoking previous posts on why they shouldn't see Mulan, in the meanwhile, the film has come in for mixed reviews from critics. With some calling the characterization "heartless," while others a movie that was meant for theatres. Under ordinary circumstances, any sort of controversy ahead of the film's release is considered a good thing. A case of reverse psychology where no publicity is bad publicity. So whether that controversy translates onto streaming numbers in the case of Mulan, remains to be seen.
The fury extends to Hollywood studios and other actors
It's not just the film Mulan but Disney itself and almost all the other Hollywood studios have come in for sharp criticism for forcibly incorporating scripts and characters to ensure a smoother run in China, because it is now the second-biggest movie market in the world. It's not just actor Liu Yifei but even her co-star from Mulan, Donnie Yen was criticized for his Facebook post that celebrated Hong Kong's handover day. It read, "Today is the celebration day for Hong Kong returned to motherland China."
Even actor Jackie Chan was criticized for his remarks in the context of the Hong Kong protests. Before the film was postponed from its earlier planned release in March, Dwayne The Rock Johnson and Brie Larson had come in for sharp criticism from their fans for tweeting support for Mulan at the time.