Disney’s live-action Mulan has been accused of being “too white behind the camera” by Keshav Kant in Metro UK.
Kant, who is the Editor-in-Chief at Off Colour, wrote an article for Metro UK titled, “I’ve loved Mulan since childhood but the remake is too white behind the camera.”
In the article Kant takes issue with the crew of the film,
“Finally, it premiered on 10 March, but as the cast of Asian excellence lined up on the red carpet for photos and interviews, they were followed by the crew – majority of whom were (un)surprisingly very white.”
Kant added, “As a person of colour, this was incredibly frustrating to see.”
He would then espouse some pretty racist views while taking issue with the race of the crew of Mulan.
“We were promised that this remake would be a departure from the animated movie’s orientalist roots and a more accurate-to-origin retelling of the Chinese legend and folksong, The Ballad of Mulan, which the movie is based on. But seeing a whole host of white people parade onto that carpet and enjoying their time in the spotlight made it feel hollow.”
He continued with his racist remarks, “It was a visual slap in the face – an undeniable message from Disney that the Asian people telling this story on screen are mere puppets on strings with no real control over how their own stories are told.”
Kant then takes issue with the removal of Li Shang from the film and blames it on “white people.”
“I am disgusted by how a beautiful love story that focused on the woman taking control and allowed her to lead the relationship’s development is disregarded as a flippant justification for a creative decision made by white people who clearly don’t understand the story’s nuance. “
“At this point, I’ve given up. This is no longer my favourite Disney story; it’s a white person’s chance to flex their creative muscles and cash a Disney cheque.”
In order to correct this perceived problem, Kant demands that white people not be allowed in “leadership roles and have creative control and authority.”
He writes, “Not everyone on the crew needs to be of a specific race and ethnicity that pairs with the story told, but those who are in leadership roles and have creative control and authority should be.”
He continues, “The director and screenwriters, for example, as well as the costume designer, who specialises in historically accurate clothing, and composers, who are familiar with the culture’s musical history and traditions.”
Kant concludes by demanding that Disney hire “sensitivity readers.”
“It doesn’t hurt to go the extra step, either. For instance, by hiring an on-set historian, sensitivity readers to review the script and screening rough edits to knowledgeable critics before confirming the completion of the film.”
YouTubers Clownfish TV would describe Kant’s entire article as “ridiculous.”
Geeky Sparkles states, “This is ridiculous. They went out of their way to make sure that they got the right people in the right parts. They went and made sure they talked to the Chinese people to fit in what they consider culturally appropriate for them. They went all these extra miles. And now they are pissed because the director is too white. The director is also a woman.”
Geeky Sparkles is exactly right. The Hollywood Reporter (THR) noted that director Niki Caro wasn’t Disney’s first choice. In fact, they first looked at directors of Asian descent including Taiwanese Oscar winner Ang Lee and Chinese director Jiang Wen. Disney apparently chose Caro because she “showcased a knack for representing cultures outside of her own with her 2002 debut Whale Rider.”
Interestingly The Hollywood Reporter even details that Caro assembled a “mostly female-led crew.” That crew included cinematographer Mandy Walker, costume designer Bina Daigelere, makeup designer Denise Kum, and first assistant director Liz Tan.
Caro had even already responded to the likes of Kant. She told THR, “Although it’s a critically important Chinese story and it’s set in Chinese culture and history, there is another culture at play here, which is the culture of Disney, and that the director, whoever they were, needed to be able to handle both — and here I am.”
As I documented in the video above, Caro also received advice from producer Bill Kong, who previously produced Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Monster Hunt. Kong advised Caro, “The first thing I told her was, ‘Hire a Chinese girl. You can’t hire a Japanese girl to do this.'”
Kong also told Caro that historical accuracy is not a big concern given that Mulan is a fictional character, “I told [Caro] to not be too concerned about the historical accuracy. Mulan, though very famous, is fictional. She’s not a historical person.”
In fact, Caro even details that Disney tested the film in China and removed a kiss between Mulan and her love interest Chen Honghui because of the reaction the Chinese people would have to it.
Caro explained, “It was very beautiful, but the China office went, ‘No, you can’t, that doesn’t feel right to the Chinese people.’ So we took it out.”
And if it wasn’t clear that the film is made for Chinese audiences, Caro stated, “Of course it’s vitally important that it succeeds in China because it belongs to China.”
As you can tell, not only is Keshav Kant espousing racist ideas, but he also seems to have written an article without doing any research on the upcoming live-action Mulan film whatsoever.
Mulan was expected to hit theaters on March 27, 2019. However, Disney and director Niki Caro decided to delay the film due to coronavirus.
A message from Mulan Director, Niki Caro. pic.twitter.com/0L3VzAfaeB
— Mulan (@DisneysMulan) March 12, 2020