The harsh truth is our favorites can turn out to be problematic. The latest is Liu Yifei, who recently expressed her support for the Hong Kong police.
Yifei is currently known for her role as Mulan in the upcoming live-action reboot. There are high expectations for the movie as it will stay true to Chinese culture, as well as its animated counterpart. Sure, it received some backlash for reportedly not including the original soundtrack and the well-loved Mushu, it’s still a promising film.
But, as mentioned, Yifei was criticized after she shared a post on Weibo that read (in Chinese), “I also support Hong Kong police. You can beat me up now.” The post also read, “What a shame for Hong Kong.”
So far, the protests are far from peaceful. There had been reports of police throwing tear gas, beating up protesters, and even shooting rubber bullets at close range. The UN Human Rights office has accused the Hong Kong police of “employing less-lethal weapons in ways that are prohibited by international norms and standards,” and also criticized them for “creating a considerable risk of death or serious injury.”
Yifei’s declaration of support is problematic because the Hong Kong police is obviously endangering the lives of many people. This then prompted disappointed netizens to make “#BoycottMulan” posts on social media.
Yes we're different but don't forget Human Rights is the fundamental life and freedoms that everyone shall enjoy it since we were born. All human beings are legally equal. Shame on you Liu Yifei and China #BoycottMulanpic.twitter.com/M9axIXaHlU
— 🌱Tenzin Lhamo! 🌱(looking for internships) (@spicypicasso) August 15, 2019
It’s disappointing, really. Mulan is known as a strong female who fought and pledged to save people from evil forces. It’s the total opposite of what Yifei stands for as she made it clear who she’s siding with.
It’s the same feeling we had when Priyanka Chopra was criticized for allegedly fueling the war between India and Pakistan. The two countries have been fighting over the disputed territory of Kashmir, which is an independent Muslim-majority state. Priyanka was confronted by Pakistani influencer Ayesha Malik during BeautyCon, who brought up her “Jai Hind” (Hail, India) tweet last February.
According to Al Jazeera, the tweet came after Indian fighter jets crossed Pakistani territory to conduct air raids. This created more tension between the nuclear-armed countries. As Ayesha pointed out, Priyanka is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, but she’s allegedly supporting India in the war. Priyanka also defended herself, saying she has “many, many friends in Pakistan” and that she’s not fond of war, but she’s also patriotic. (Basically an admission she’s pro-India) She also told Ayesha to not yell and people should be focused on love.
With just one statement, Liu Yifei has put the hard work of the Mulan team on the line. The movie is slated to premiere in March 2020 and is predicted to make around $1 billion. Deadline noted that the boycott could affect the movie’s box office sales, especially in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Additionally, if the HK protests are prolonged and become more violent, and the actress continues to express support, the boycott might affect Hong Kong Disneyland as well.
It’s not unusual for Disney to either pull out or change things last-minute in light of criticisms, especially now when Disney is expected to be mindful and inclusive with all its titles this year and in the future. The downside to possibly pulling out Mulan before its premiere is all the hard work will be gone in a snap. All because their main actress expressed her support for police brutality in Hong Kong.
On the other hand, Deadline also reported that Mulan can still get support from mainland China because of Yifei’s patriotic stance. Still, is Disney going to risk having this massive boycott controversy on their coattails? Yes and no. Obviously, the studio might take the chance because it’s still going to make money.
Right now, Disney hasn’t made any statement addressing #BoycottMulan, so we’ll just have to wait and see what actions (or non-actions) they’ll take. Yifei also hasn’t made additional comments after her pro-HK police post. We just hope she comes around and changes her views on what’s happening to the people of Hong Kong.
Art by Tricia Guevara
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