Why people are boycotting Disney’s live-action Mulan

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People are calling dishonor on Disney’s live-action Mulan

Following a social media post Crystal Liu, who portrays Mulan in the forthcoming remake, shared in support of the Hong Kong police force, protestors have ben boycotting Disney and the film. Liu’s admission of support of Hong Kong law enforcement, which has been under scrutiny for what human rights groups have deemed an excessive use of force, sparked outrage in China and caused a ripple effect around the world. 

Taking to Weibo, the Chinese social media site on which Liu has over 65 million followers, the actress shared an image that read, “I support Hong Kong’s police, you can all attack me now … What a shame for Hong Kong.” She hashtagged the image, originally shared by the Chinese newspaper group People’s Daily, #IIAlsoSupportTheHongKongPolice, then added a heart emoji. 

Less than 24 hours after Liu posted the photo, it amassed over 72,000 likes and was shared over 65,000 times (via The Hollywood Reporter). 

The hashtag #BoycottMulan has taken over Twitter and Instagram in the time since Liu’s post, with the tag feed filling up with dozens of posts per hour. 

One user on Twitter wrote, “Support Liu’s Mulan = Support Police’s Abuse of Power. The spirit of Mulan is about bravery, not fighting the citizens with unlimited force.” Another added, “I thought people were just overreacting at first but yikes.  She really just f***** over that movie and all involved. The movie’s budget was already rumored to be pretty large too. A simple recast won’t fix this issue. They’d have to likely reshoot the entire film. #BoycottMulan.”

User @sdnorton went viral with his #BoycottMulan tweet that reads, “Disney’s Mulan actress, Liu Yifei, supports police brutality and oppression in Hong Kong. Liu is a naturalized American citizen. it must be nice. meanwhile she pisses on people fighting for democracy. retweet please. HK doesn’t get enough support. #BoycottMulan @Disney.”

Over on Instagram, user @rileyscreed shared a post with the caption, “They shouldn’t be making the same movies over and over again for profit and putting no effort into it. This is just karma. Also if you support what the police are doing in Hong Kong, you are unbelievably ignorant. They violate human rights for fun. She comes from such a place of entitlement it’s not surprising that her closed mind would spew out this trash.”

In recent months, the Hong Kong police force has been the center of an intense debate about police brutality, democracy, and the autonomy of Hong Kong. In June, hundreds of thousands of people in Hong Kong gathered to protest a bill that would grant criminally charged residents the opportunity to be extradited to mainland China. Protesters fought against the bill, arguing that it would destroy Hong Kong’s autonomy that it established under the “one country, two systems” standard in 1997. Local police have used increasingly aggressive tactics to dissuade protesters and clear the streets, going so far as to use tear gas in enclosed spaces and shoot rubber bullets into crowds. Things escalated even further the week of August 12, when protesters entered the Hong Kong Airport and grounded departing flights for two days in open opposition to police brutality.

The activists’ focus has evolved from the proposed bill to police brutality and a fight for democracy in Hong Kong, hoping that everyone can participate in the election of Hong Kong’s chief executive.

It’s unclear at this time if Liu’s public support of the Hong Kong police will motivate Disney executives to consider recasting the role of Mulan. It may seem like an extreme response, but let’s not forget that Ridley Scott fired Kevin Spacey from his 2017 crime-thriller All the Money in the World just weeks ahead of its theatrical release, tapping Christopher Plummer to shoot all the sequences in which Spacey had originally appeared. This was in response to numerous allegations of sexual assault made against Spacey in late 2017. 

In any case, a boycott of this caliber isn’t good for any party connected to Mulan. Liu’s statement doesn’t bode well for her public image, it doesn’t help the people of Hong Kong exposed to the chaos currently overtaking the city-state, and it casts shadows on Disney, which goes to great lengths to maintain a squeaky-clean reputation. Only time will tell whether the boycott will spark a last-minute recasting of Liu as Mulan, or how it will impact the film’s box office performance when it opens in theaters on March 27, 2020.

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