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Boycott Mulan, Disneys’ latest venture into human rights abuses and corporate greed



by James Cronin | 09/17/20 2:10 a.m.


At the end of 2018, the production team of Mulan, the last Soulless Disney live-action remake, began filming in the province of Xinjiang, in northwest China, where the Uyghur people live. At the same time, in Xinjiang, the Chinese Communist Party continued to significantly expand internment camps for Uyghurs, camps that had already incarcerated up to a million members of the majority Muslim minority group.

In these internment camps which became public in 2018 and which remain active, Uyghurs are held without trial, forced to learn Mandarin, banned from practicing their faith and forced to listen to lectures and sing hymns extolling the PCC, methods that can only be described as crass. human rights violations. The goal? Erase Uyghur identity and culture through forced assimilation. If you are a decent person, this should make your blood boil. If you are Disney, this is apparently nothing worth standing in the way of a good deal.

Mulan was officially released on the Disney + streaming service on September 4. In its closing credits, the film particularly thanked eight government agencies in Xinjiang for their assistance in making the film, including several from Turpan, a city with at least four internment facilities. as of 2019. Human rights activists and good citizens in general have been enraged by Disney’s eagerness to please the CCP, taking to social media to call for a boycott of the film. I too have responded to this call and implore all readers to do the same. Disneys Mulan is a clear example of business morality first, human rights last; we cannot allow it to be commercially successful and normalize such blatantly unethical behavior in the entertainment industry.

Besides working with an authoritarian regime whose list of human rights violations is as long as the wall that spans its countryside, there are three other good reasons why you should invest in business failure. from Mulan. The first is that, to add insult to serious injury, Disney is as unapologetic as the CCP about what it has done. Asked about the growing controversy surrounding the film, Disney CFO Christine McCarthy went on the defensive and denied committing any wrongdoing, claiming that filming in China requires government permission and that it is common in a film to give credit to the national and local governments that allowed you to film there, as if this simple industry subtlety was enough to cleanse Disney of their choice to film at the scene of an ongoing cultural genocide and cooperate with the government that perpetrated it.

To top it off, McCarthy ended his statement by downplaying the importance of the controversy.

It generated a lot of publicity, McCarthy said. Let’s leave it there. I’m sure it would be very handy for McCarthy and the rest of Disney if audiences chose to just leave it at that, but unlike them, there are a lot of good people who won’t stand up for such reckless corporate depravity.

The second reason you shouldn’t watch Mulan is that it’s not even the first human rights controversy to plague the movie. In 2019, calls to boycott Mulan began after actress Liu Yifei, who plays the titular character, expressed her support on social media for the Hong Kong police, who have come under heavy criticism for their excessive use of force against pro-democracy protesters in the middle China is stepping up repression of the autonomous territory. When the lead actress in a movie supports a group whose conduct has been condemned by international organizations like the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, I think it is just to consider financially supporting such a film as an act of passive approval of these opinions. By joining the party line of an oppressive government, Yifei has proven that, unlike the character she embodies, she is not the people’s hero.

The third reason, beyond the ethical controversies of the films, is how Disney chose to distribute Mulan. If, after reading this far, you still wanted to watch Mulan, you would have to buy a Disney + membership first, which costs $ 69.99 per year, and then pay a $ 30 access fee to see the movie. (The film will become free to all Disney + subscribers on December 4.) If this model pays off, we could see other big blockbuster releases doing the same, which would deal a heavy blow to the accessibility of the medium. and a big headache for the average moviegoer. Imagine a world where movie theaters have become obsolete and every movie is released on demand for about three times the price of a single theater ticket, all because of a wealthy minority able to make such a model profitable. This thought makes me shudder.

Robert Thompson, pop culture historian and director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, said in an interview that this decision is an experiment in the film industry to gauge how much they can charge audiences for this type of successful release.

What Disney is doing now is determining whether the market will support that $ 30 price tag by listening to the number of complaints they receive, but more importantly, see how many people are actually depositing the $ 30, Thompson said. And a lot of people there, no matter what they do, they’re going to have a house full of kids who want to see Mulan. By rejecting this model and voting with our wallets, we can protect ourselves from this type of unfriendly consumer behavior.

Now, I’m sure some people will think I’m overreacting. They will cry that art must be separated from the artist, and that a boycott in this case is a form of unwarranted censorship. Normally I agree with the first point. In this scenario, however, I’m not trying to talk about the art or the artist. I’m talking about what we can do as consumers to enforce higher standards in the entertainment industry.

Art and art aside, I don’t expect a company to ever act ethically on their own, but rather a pleasant surprise when they do, I don’t think Disney has a sort of imperative to act ethically. They just do what mega-conglomerates do: chase the bottom line. So while I don’t expect Disney to resist the CCP or resist the temptation to woo the huge Chinese market, I believe that as media consumers and individuals, we have a responsibility to each other. to others and to the world to act ethically. When companies cross the line, as Disney did with Mulan, we have a duty to reduce their unscrupulous greed by refusing to endorse products that go against what we think is right.

We need to start taking filmmakers to a higher level of social responsibility. If there was any doubt about Disney’s morality, it’s now clear that the answer is no, and we must not accept it. What Disney has done with Mulan is proof that they think they can get away with openly bowing down to an oppressive regime. If you want to make them understand that they can’t, you have to boycott this movie.

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