There is protest and calls for boycotts over the Disney’s movie adaptation of Mulan which has spiked as the movie hits Disney Plus, the company’s on-demand streaming service. The hashtag #BoycottMulan has trended on Twitter following the September 4th release of the movie as the protest is said to be tied to an incident that occurred back in the summer of 2019 according to Vulture.
This was based on the fact that the star actress of the movie, Liu Yifei did make comments last summer about her supports for police forces in Hong Kong at the time when people in the city-state were protesting against the new Chinese policies which will allow citizens to be extradited to mainland China.
Liu Yifei shared a message on Weibo, a popular Chinese social media platform which reads “I support Hong Kong’s police, you can beat me up now,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. Liu then added on Weibo in English, “What a shame for Hong Kong.”
This was the time when Hong Kong was having a really strong pro-democracy protest which in fact at some point involved the NBA after the Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for the protest and that sparked the NBA’s partner in China to refuse to carry two pre-season games.
And what happened afterwards was the general manager backtracking on his tweets which ultimately led to a protest in support of Hong Kong from the U.S. Apple also did found itself in the middle of the controversy when it banned HK Map Live, a Pro-democracy app that was used by protesters in Hong Kong.
But earlier on this year, Liu did addressed her comments during an interview with the Hollywood Reporter stating that “it’s obviously a very complicated situation, and I’m not an expert,” and adding “I just really hope this gets resolved soon … I think it’s just a very sensitive situation.” Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn also spoke to The Hollywood Reporter in February, and talked briefly about Liu’s comments, noting that Disney tries to be “non-political, apolitical when it comes to all this stuff.”
“My feeling is, free speech is an important component of society, certainly, and folks ought to be able to say what they want to say,” Horn said. “I can’t speak for what Liu says in China — we didn’t know about it, what she was going to say — and that’s up to them.”
This was even before Mulan was ever released and Disney had hoped this had a big turnout at theaters in China where the movie had much been expected to be better. Horn further told Reporter that “If Mulan doesn’t work in China then there is a problem.
Disney is going towards the for-profit route whereby accounting for the much bigger audience in China which trumps that of Hong Kong and so considering those numbers, it would be a potential win for the company but as protesters are calling for a worldwide boycott of Mulan, this could be the problem for Disney to deal with.
Disney however has had a long-term and ongoing relationship with China where it’s movies usually find success in the theaters and also it’s Shanghai Disney park is visited by Chinese who love the company.
“Because Disney kowtows to Beijing, and because Liu Yifei openly and proudly endorses police brutality in Hong Kong, I urge everyone who believes in human rights to #BoycottMulan,” Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong tweeted on Friday.
Aside Joshua Wong, there are other protesters who are requesting people to stop purchasing Mulan on Disney Plus or going to theaters to see the film as the company did filmed a part of the movie in Xinjiang. There have been endless outcry from both human right activist organizations as well as the United Nations over the Chinese government’s treatment of the Uighurs who are predominantly Muslim, Turkic ethnic group.
The Chinese government has however labeled the Islamic religion as a contagious ideological illness which has led to the government quarantining more than one million Uighurs in reeducation camps according to the New York Magazines activists often call those Concentration camps.
And this call came during the period when the US government is taking the Chinese government heads on as well as banning big tech companies from operating or partnering with US business as they’ve been labelled to being dangerous to national security the same goes with India which had ultimately led to the banning of more than 119 mobile services including TikTok and PUBG.
Whether or not pressure from protesters to boycott Mulan worked may remain unclear for a while. Disney doesn’t have to disclose how many digital copies of Mulan it’s sold via Disney Plus. Theatrically, Mulan has generated $6 million in limited markets — including Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore — in its first weekend. The film is slated to be released in China on September 11th.