Controversy continues to plague Disney’s Live-Action “Mulan” remake, following contentious political statements made by lead actress Liu Yifei last fall.
The movie, which was originally set to be released in theaters in March, premiered exclusively on Disney+ on Sept. 4 for an additional rental price.
The recent release has revived calls to boycott the film due to outrage over the actress’ controversial message, in which she showed strong support for Hong Kong law enforcement. The country’s police officers have been heavily criticized for their actions during political protests, which began last June in response to plans to allow extradition to mainland China.
Yifei was met with backlash from activists who see her post as a shameful endorsement of police brutality, considering the violent manner in which law enforcement have treated protestors.
Violent encounters between officers and protestors in the area have been making news since the beginning of the protests last summer. Since then police have made mass arrests totaling around 9,000 people, and have been guilty of using extremely aggressive means of crowd control. Nearly a year after the protest’s conception, police have unleashed a total of 16,000 rounds of tear gas and pepper balls. Law enforcement has also incorporated several other dangerous tactics that have resulted in countless injuries and at least two deaths.
Considering that the majority of the protests have been completely peaceful, the violence in Hong Kong is a shocking and indefensible example of abusive police behavior that has long afflicted countries around the world.
With the recent push for police reform in the United States, it is unsurprising that outrage against Yifei persists, but should Disney fans follow the calls of activists to boycott the film entirely? The answer is more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no.”
Everyone who learns about Yifei’s statement should be absolutely outraged considering the unnecessary harm officers in Hong Kong have caused, and resistance against her beliefs is necessary in the fight for police reform. However, resistance comes in many forms and looks different for everyone.
While boycotting the “Mulan” remake is one way to fight back, it is certainly not the only way. Outraged individuals can incorporate other means, including voicing their opinions online and taking part in the multitude of efforts put forward by Black Lives Matter supporters and other champions of the police reform movement.
However, indisputably, refusal to watch the film is an easy and powerful way to protest. If history has taught us anything, it is that money talks, and boycotting is an excellent way to keep money out of the pockets of those with which you disagree.
But it is also not enough to quietly refuse to watch the film. Fans should also continue to engage in protest efforts and support police reform in other ways even if they choose to boycott. The fight against police brutality is much bigger than Yifei and “Mulan,” and it serves as a reminder that we need to do research about the people and corporations we choose to support.
If fans decide to watch the film, they should do so with the knowledge of who they are paying. Viewers should take the time to educate themselves and learn about why Yifei’s beliefs are so disputed.
Every person’s actions against police brutality bring us closer to reform, and as “Mulan” says in the original animated film, “A single grain of rice can tip the scale. One man may be the difference between victory and defeat.”