Starting in June 2019, massive anti-police protests broke out in Hong Kong. The protests began because of a controversial bill that would allow extradition from Hong Kong to China but have since expanded to include broader causes, including the fight against police brutality.
Back in 2019, Liu Yifei, the Chinese-born actress starring as Mulan in the brand new Disney live-action remake, expressed her support for Hong Kong police and against pro-democracy demonstrators. Now, many are calling for a boycott of the film in solidarity with Hong Kong protesters.
"I support the Hong Kong police. You can all attack me now. What a shame for Hong Kong," she wrote in a post on Weibo, the Chinese social media platform.
Soon after, people began posting on Twitter to #BoycottMulan, claiming that the actress was effectively supporting police brutality with her words. Now that the film is actually out, calls for the boycott have renewed.
In addition to the controversial statements from Liu Yifei, another actor in the movie, Donnie Yen, was criticized for comments he made in July where he wrote that he was acknowledging "the celebration day for Hong Kong [returning] to motherland China 23 years."
"Mulan has always been about heroism, bravery, and sacrifice; and we already have countless stories like that in the real world," one Twitter user wrote. "You don't need a fictional film that its actor didn't stand up for anything but police brutality."
Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong tweeted, "This film is released today. But because Disney kowtows to Beijing, and because Liu Yifei openly and proudly endorses police brutality in Hong Kong, I urge everyone who believes in human rights to #BoycottMulan."
The Guardian reports that when Hong Kong activist Agnes Chow was arrested, social media dubbed her "the real Mulan" and "our Mulan." It's gotten to the point where she has reached international meme status, along with the hashtag, #milkteaalliance, named after the drink.
Both images of Agnes Chow and the #milkteaalliance hashtag have been used by protesters to signal their support for pro-democracy and anti-police brutality causes in Hong Kong.
#AgnesChow gave up her UK citizenship to fight alongside with her own people in Hong Kong which may lead her decades in jail now.— креветка ☕️ Hola (@Holaholamicasa) August 13, 2020
While #LiuYifei an American citizen siding with a communist dictator & supporting police brutality.
I think it’s clear that who is the real #Mulan https://t.co/TPVCET8lST pic.twitter.com/I5bwqRJdz6
Recent pro-democracy protests have also broken out in Thailand, drawing mutual support from the protesters and activists in Hong Kong. One Twitter user tweeted, "I want to inform you that last year, Thai people successfully boycotted a film because of its lead actor criticized people who believe in democracy. #BoycottMulan is next."
Now, the call to boycott Mulan has spanned countries and traveled over oceans. Even those who were excited to watch the movie, even though who've loved the story their whole lives, are taking part in this simple boycott to show their support for the activists and protesters in Hong Kong and beyond.
One Twitter user, a fan of the story of Mulan, wrote, "Mulan's my favorite Disney princess and I've been waiting for this movie ever since they announced a live-action remake, but considering the lead's support for the police, we shouldn't pay to see it. If I can resist the urge to do such, you can too. #BoycottMulan #MilkTeaAlliance"
To make matters worse, a new allegation that Disney filmed the film in the province known for many human rights violations has caused even more backlash against them film.
Disney under fire for filming #Mulan in China's Xinjiang Province, the site of alleged human rights abuses on a massive scale, including forced labor and the detainment of over 1 million Uyghur Muslims https://t.co/NF5W4Yqblx pic.twitter.com/1LtAsXQUeg— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) September 8, 2020
It didn't seem to impact the films debut too much, as it saw huge numbers in the open theaters over the weekend. We won't know exact numbers on how many on demand sales happened but signs point to it being one of the strongest movies of the year thus far in a challenging time for movie studios.