Pa­tri­otic theme in Mu­lan film shouldn’t be politi­cized

Global Times US Edition - - EDITORIAL - By Li Qingqing Page Edi­tor: [email protected]­al­times.com.cn

“She ap­pears solemn and res­o­lute: Mu­lan is a now ro­botic war­rior… It feels like Dis­ney is wav­ing a big red flag in ev­ery­one’s faces in its des­per­a­tion to se­cure suc­cess at the Chi­nese box of­fice.” This is an ex­cerpt from a re­view pub­lished in The Guardian’s web­site on Monday. The re­view, writ­ten by Jin­gan Young, fo­cused on Dis­ney’s of­fi­cial Mu­lan trailer. The ar­ti­cle said Mu­lan has been trans­formed into a “pa­tri­otic saga.”

Chi­nese peo­ple do not want to politi­cize the Dis­ney film, but some West­ern peo­ple in­sist on politi­ciz­ing it. It seems that some peo­ple tend to politi­cize every­thing in­volv­ing China. Now that the movie is tagged “pa­tri­otic,” as if it should not have been, let us see how the Chi­nese folk­song “Bal­lad of Mu­lan” orig­i­nally de­scribed Hua Mu­lan, a girl from the North­ern and Southern Dy­nas­ties (386-589) who dis­guised as a man and took her father’s place in the army.

“For miles and miles the army marched along, and crossed the moun­tain bar­ri­ers as in flight… In ten years they’ve lost many cap­tains strong, but bat­tle-hard­ened war­riors come back in de­light.” This is an ex­cerpt from an English ver­sion of the old Chi­nese bal­lad. These lines show the Chi­nese tra­di­tional spirit of pro­tect­ing their home­land and re­sist­ing for­eign ag­gres­sion. Such noble spirit con­cerns a coun­try’s destiny and has been one of the roots of tra­di­tional Chi­nese cul­ture.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port from Dead­line.com, an on­line mag­a­zine on en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try news, the Mu­lan trailer reached 175.1 mil­lion on­line views within its first 24 hours, mak­ing it the sev­enth-high­est trailer launch of all time. Why is it highly ex­pected by so many peo­ple world­wide? The main rea­son is the story is at­trac­tive. The sword fights and acro­bat­ics per­formed by Liu Yifei, widely known as “fairy sis­ter” in China, are also an im­por­tant rea­son. Peo­ple love to see the Chi­nese el­e­ments in the trailer, which also in­cludes the above-men­tioned Chi­nese spirit.

To say that “Dis­ney is bow­ing to China’s na­tion­al­is­tic agenda” is ab­surd. Hua Mu­lan is a leg­endary Chi­nese war­rior who loves her home­land. Thus, ev­ery ver­sion of Mu­lan is sup­posed to be nat­u­rally en­dowed with pa­tri­o­tism to be in line with the au­then­tic story. But in Dis­ney’s 1998 an­i­mated Mu­lan, Amer­i­cans in­ten­tion­ally weak­ened the pa­tri­otic spirit and in­ten­si­fied gen­der equal­ity and fe­male in­de­pen­dence. Isn’t this “bow­ing to” West­ern ide­ol­ogy?

If Dis­ney wants to ap­pro­pri­ately tell the story, pa­tri­o­tism should and must be in­cluded. Pa­tri­o­tism is nat­u­ral, and it also ex­plains why the story has been eu­lo­gized for more than a thou­sand years in China. There is noth­ing wrong for Hua Mu­lan to ap­pear “solemn and res­o­lute,” be­cause this is how peo­ple will ap­pear when they are in a life-or-death war and this is also the spirit of Chi­nese war­riors.

Soaked in the West­ern en­vi­ron­ment, many West­ern peo­ple failed to no­tice that Hua Mu­lan is a leg­endary in China who is brave enough to pro­tect her fam­ily and her home­land. She is a hero, not a so-called ro­botic war­rior. Mu­lan is sched­uled to be re­leased in 2020, but there have al­ready been ex­ten­sive dis­cus­sions on­line. We hope the dis­cus­sions will trig­ger peo­ple’s at­ten­tion to Chi­nese cul­ture and tra­di­tion. This is an im­por­tant fac­tor to un­der­stand to­day’s China.

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