ZHUBIZ CHEZMIZ-MOVIES: Mulan movie boycott calls grow over scenes filmed in Xinjiang

A billboard for Disney’s “Mulan” film is seen outside a shopping mall in Bangkok, where calls for a boycott of the movie are growing

Disney’s “Mulan” remake is facing fresh boycott calls after it emerged some of the blockbuster’s scenes were filmed in China’s Xinjiang, where widespread rights abuses against the region’s Muslim population have been widely documented.

The lavish $200 million film about a legendary female Chinese warrior was already tangled in political controversy after star Liu Yifei voiced support for Hong Kong’s police as they cracked down on democracy protests last year.

But the latest furore exploded as soon as the credits stopped rolling after the movie began showing on the Disney+ channel last week.

Viewers spotted that Disney included “special thanks” to eight government entities in Xinjiang — including the public security bureau in Turpan, a city in eastern Xinjiang where multiple internment camps have been documented.

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..Actress Yifei Liu, who plays Mulan in the mov ie's title role, has been criticised for voicing support for Hong Kong's police in tackling protesters

Mulan movie boycott calls grow over scenes filmed in Xinjiang

Actress Yifei Liu, who plays Mulan in the mov ie’s title role, has been criticised for voicing support for Hong Kong’s police in tackling protesters

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Another entity thanked was the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda department in Xinjiang.

The revelation has sparked renewed anger at a time of heightened scrutiny over Hollywood’s willingness to bow to authoritarian China.

Rights groups, academics and journalists have exposed a harsh crackdown against Uighur and Kazakh Muslims in Xinjiang, including mass internments, enforced sterilisations, forced labour as well as intense religious and movement restrictions.

Isaac Stone Fish, a senior fellow at the Asia Society, said the film was now “arguably Disney’s most problematic movie” since “Song of the South” — a 1946 glorification of antebellum plantation life that the company has since pulled.

.US actor Tzi Ma plays Mulan's heroic father in the movie. The internet has been abuzz with comment on his resemblance to China's leader Xi Jinping

Mulan movie boycott calls grow over scenes filmed in Xinjiang

US actor Tzi Ma plays Mulan’s heroic father in the movie. The internet has been abuzz with comment on his resemblance to China’s leader Xi Jinping

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“It’s sufficiently astonishing that it bears repeating,” he wrote in a Washington Post column.

“Disney has thanked four propaganda departments and a public security bureau in Xinjiang, a region in northwest China that is the site of one of the world’s worst human rights abuses happening today.”

Badiucao, a dissident Chinese artist living in Melbourne, said he was currently working on a new cartoon portraying Mulan as a guard at one of the internment camps in Xinjiang to satirise Disney’s new film.

“It’s very problematic and there’s no excuse. I mean, it’s clear, we have all the evidence showing what is going on in Xinjiang,” he told AFP.

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– Coronavirus victim –

Badiucao accused Disney of “double standards”, embracing western social justice movements such as MeToo and Black Lives Matter, while turning a blind eye to China’s rights abuses.

The live-action remake of Disney’s 1998 animation classic, “Mulan” has had a troubled release.

It was meant to hit global theatres in March but became an early victim of the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, Disney rocked the industry — and its own cast — by announcing the film would in streamed into living rooms in many markets, including the United States, which it started Friday.

Hollywood has been increasingly accused of hypocrisy over its relationship with authoritarian China.

In August the anti-censorship group Pen America published a report which said screenwriters, producers and directors often change scripts, delete scenes and alter content to avoid offending Chinese censors.

The actions include everything from deleting the Taiwanese flag from Tom Cruise’s bomber jacket in the upcoming “Top Gun: Maverick,” to removing China as the source of a zombie virus in 2013’s “World War Z.”

But it also means completely avoiding sensitive issues including Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong politics, Xinjiang and the portrayal of LGBTQ characters, the report said.

AFP contacted Disney for comment but has yet to hear back on the Labor Day holiday.

Xinjiang is a resource-rich region home to mostly Turkic-speaking Muslim Uighurs and boasts spectacular desert and mountain backdrops.

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After sectarian unrest and attacks by Uighur militants, Beijing blanketed the region in a draconian security crackdown, building dozens of huge internment camps.

Initially China denied the camps existed before switching to describing them as voluntary re-education centres.

Even before the latest Xinjiang controversy the hashtag #BoycottMulan has been trending in recent weeks Hong Kong, Thailand and Taiwan.

Activists in all three places have launched multiple online campaigns critical of China’s authoritarianism.

Dubbed the “Milk Tea Alliance” — named after a shared love of the drink — they seized on social media comments made last year by actress Liu supporting Hong Kong’s police.

They have also noted the resemblance of actor Tzi Ma, who plays Mulan’s heroic father, to China’s leader Xi Jinping.

After her arrest last month under Beijing’s new security law, young Hong Kong dissident Agnes Chow was dubbed “the real Mulan” by supporters.

Jerome TAYLOR

jta/fox/rbu

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Entertainment

Mulan just dropped on Disney Plus but here’s why people aren’t happy about it

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The long-awaited live action remake of Mulan finally landed on Disney Plus today, but after all that anticipation people all over Twitter aren’t happy with the high price tag on the film.

The remake, which was meant to air in March, was delayed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. But after months of hype the film dropped on Disney Plus this morning on Disney Plus and cinemas (in areas where Disney Plus isn’t available), but fans weren’t happy to discover that the film costs $30 to watch, and that’s on top of the cost of a Disney Plus subscription.

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Photo credit: Disney

Photo credit: Disney

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This isn’t the first time this film has met with controversy, in March of this year, the film was criticised by LGBTQ+ fans, after producers announced that the character of Shang would be cut from the films.

Mulan is often thought of as the most bisexual of all the Disney films (though it’s never officially addressed explicitly in the film). This is because Mulan and her love interest, Li Shang, appear to have a romantic connection when Shang thinks that Mulan is a man named Ping, before officially getting together once it’s revealed that Mulan is actually a woman.

The recent controversy surrounding the price of the film has been met with a lot of criticism on Twitter, with viewers saying they would rather wait three months for the film to be available on the platform for free on 4th December.

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Photo credit: Disney

Photo credit: Disney

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Mulan is one of a number of long-awaited live-action films Disney has remade in the last few years, from The Beauty and the Beast to The Lion King. There are also many more in the works including, The Little Mermaid starring Halle Bailey, Cruella (a 101 Dalmation spin-off starring Emma Stone and directed by I, Tonya‘s Craig Gillespie), Pinocchio, and Peter Pan.

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Daniella Scott

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9.9.2020

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