Last Updated: September 7, 2020
Disney’s live-action remake of Mulan just released on Disney+, but it’s facing renewed calls for a boycott due to its star expressing support for Hong Kong police. The Mulan remake ended up bypassing theaters and heading straight to premium streaming thanks to Coronavirus, but it could find some of its sales hopes dented by the calls for a boycott on social media.
The Mulan boycott has nothing to do with the film itself, which is a live-action reimagining of the 1998 Disney Animated Classic of the same name, based on the legend of Hua Mulan. Instead, it’s to do with the ongoing controversy and political and civil unrest in Hong Kong, which was triggered by draft legislation that would have allowed criminal suspects in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China. This led to protests at the bill, which has been shelved (for now, at least), and subsequently grown into a wider pro-democracy, anti-government demonstration in Hong Kong.
As a result, Hong Kong police have had some major clashes with protesters, and been accused of a heavy-handed and overly forceful response. However, Mulan‘s lead actress, Liu Yifei, voiced her thoughts on the Chinese social media platform Weibo, sharing a post from the Chinese outlet People’s Daily which read “I support Hong Kong’s police, you can beat me up now. What a shame for Hong Kong. #Ialsosupporthongkongpolice#,” and added her own post saying: “I also support the Hong Kong police.“
This has led to a backlash against Yifei’s comment, the critics of which suggest it supports police brutality and is anti-democratic. The calls for a boycott originated in Hong Kong, but have since expanded globally through social media, such as the hashtag “#BoycottMulan” on Twitter. With the situation in Hong Kong unresolved, it puts Disney in the spotlight of what is a delicate political situation. At the time of writing, Disney has yet to comment on the post made by Liu Yifei, and it’s unclear exactly how they will handle things, if at all.
It also remains to be seen whether the calls to boycott Mulan will have a significant impact on the film’s sales figures. Considering that the #BoycottMulan campaign is still active over a year after it first began though, it’s unclear if or when those angered by Yifei’s comments might move on from their Mulan backlash. For now, Disney just has to wait and see, and hope the situation blows over.