HONG KONG, KOMPAS.com – Disney faces a second round of boycotts for its “Mulan” blockbuster after viewers noticed links with China’s Xinjiang Province.
Some of the scenes of the $200 million movie were filmed in Xinjiang, where widespread rights abuses against the region's Muslim population have been widely documented.
The “Mulan” remake first found itself entangled in political controversy after its main star, Liu Yifei, voiced support for the police crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong last year.
Read also: Pro-Democracy Activists in Hong Kong To Keep Fighting On
Lie Yifei lends her voice to the legendary female Chinese warrior, “Mulan”.
But the latest furor exploded as soon as the credits stopped rolling after the movie began showing on the Disney+ channel last week.
Read also: “Mulan” Premiere on Disney+ a Possible Game-Changer for Hollywood
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.
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 sterilizations, forced labor 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.
"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."
Read also: US Imposes Trade Sanctions on Chinese Companies as Muslim Abuse Complaints Heat Up
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 satirize 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.
Baduicao 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.
Read also: Netflix Steps Up Its Game as Disney+ Hotstar Readies for SE Asian Market
Xinjiang is a resource-rich region home to mostly Turkic-speaking Muslim Uighurs and boasts spectacular desert and mountain backdrops.
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 centers.
Even before the latest Xinjiang controversy, the hashtag #BoycottMulan has been trending in recent weeks in 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.
(Writer: Jeremy Fox)
Source: http://u.afp.com/3bFDDapatkan update berita pilihan dan breaking news setiap hari dari Kompas.com. Mari bergabung di Grup Telegram "Kompas.com News Update", caranya klik link https://t.me/kompascomupdate, kemudian join. Anda harus install aplikasi Telegram terlebih dulu di ponsel.