Will Disney be opening 2020 by pandering to China’s nationalistic values?
It’s hard to imagine that the original Disney animation Mulan was released in 1998 – right around the time when Asian markets were reeling from the DOTCOM bubble bursting and general economic sluggishness in the region.
But then again, Disney is known for squeezing as much hope as it can from whatever climate it finds itself in. With Eddie Murphy voicing the lovable dragon Mushu, and Broadway’s Lea Salonga bringing the arias for Mulan’s singing parts, it’s not difficult to understand why Disney’s teaser for the live-action adaptation of the beloved 1998 classic is causing heads to roll.
While no one is really complaining about the result of the year-long search for an actress to play Mulan, people can’t help but wonder: what happened to Mushu, and the original vibe of the story that gave a generation of Disney viewers a lot of hope back in the day?
Who is the Real Mulan?
The story of Mulan actually came from “The Ballad of Mulan” (Ode of Mulan), a fifth or sixth century CE poem. The poem was written during the time when China as we know it was divided into northern and southern regions. The rules of the north were from non-Han ethnic groups. The poem goes in this manner: “Tsiek tsiek and again tsiek tsiek,/Mulan weaves, facing the door./You don’t hear the shuttle’s sound,/You only hear Daughter’s sighs./They ask Daughter who’s in her heart,/They as Daughter who’s on her mind./”No one is on Daughter’s heart,/No one is on Daughter’s mind./Last night I saw the draft posters,/The Khan is calling many troops,/The army list is in twelve scrolls.