What: Calls for a boycott of Disney’s live-action Mulan remake, due in 2020.
Who: Chinese-American actor Crystal Liu
Why we care: When the Mulan trailer dropped online recently, it was met with a flurry of excitement. After the recent wave of live-action Disney remakes had produced a weird, blue Will Smith, and an uncanny valley Pumbaa, finally here was something viewers who wanted more than a mere retread could sink their teeth into. The new, apparently more grounded take on the tale of a young woman who bucks an arranged marriage by posing as a male warrior appears to do away with the musical numbers and talking dragon that figured into the 1998 original. However, for some, the anticipation surrounding Mulan‘s March 2020 release has already curdled after the film’s star, Chinese-American actress Crystal Liu, used social media to side with the Hong Kong police force over those protesting both government policy and police abuse.
The entire region has been in an uproar in recent months as protesters have disputed an extradition bill introduced in June that would send suspected criminals to mainland China for trial, where the Beijing government might punish and silence political dissidents more easily. The discord hit a flashpoint earlier this week, when Hong Kong International Airport had to suspend all flights for two days because of protestors. On Sunday afternoon, police used rubber bullets on protesters, leading to widely circulated images of a female protester bleeding from the eye, sparking further anti-police brutality protests. It is at this point that Crystal Liu enters the fray.
Using the Chinese social media platform Weibo (akin to Twitter), Liu shared with her 65 million followers an image from the state-backed People’s Daily, reading, “I support Hong Kong’s police, you can beat me up now,” adding, “What a shame for Hong Kong” and the hashtag #IAlsoSupportTheHongKongPolice, along with a heart emoji. Whether it’s the message of support itself or her tone, which paints protesters as bullies who beat up innocent people, the reaction was swift. The hashtag #BoycottMulan soon began to trend on Twitter and Instagram, often with the users tagging Disney.
Although we’re seven months out from the film’s release, and Disney is in the middle of a historically successful year, the family-friendly company prefers to keep its films devoid of controversy. Fast Company will be watching to see how the studio reacts if the #BoycottMulan movement has legs.
Read more about the brewing controversy here and watch the trailer for Mulan below.