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– by Joseph Jammer Medina

UPDATE: The folks over at The Vulture reached out to one of their sources close to the production, and were met with the following response regarding this rumor:

“The spec script [mentioned in the original story below] was a jumping-off point for a new take on the story that draws from both the literary ballad of Mulan and Disney’s 1998 animated film… Mulan is and will always be the lead character in the story, and all primary roles, including the love interest, are Chinese.”

In short, the poster mentioned below was not inaccurate when they said the spec script they read had a white male, but Disney has supposedly since changed the script to include a full Chinese cast.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Well, we’re back here again.

I know, plenty of you are rolling their eyes at the title, and I understand. I’m sure other writers on the site such as Mario and Kellvin, who don’t care so much about diverse casting, are also rolling their eyes. And I get it. People are tired of hearing it. And so am I. Which is why it feels increasingly ridiculous that we’re constantly heading back to this topic.

Let me back up a bit.

This latest piece of news comes from a blog known as Angry Asian Man. The blog had a guest post from someone calling themselves “ConcernedForMulan.” This user claimed to be an Asian-American in the film industry — an Asian-American who has read the most up-to-date screenplay of The Legend of Mulan, an upcoming live-action adaptation of the Disney animated film, Mulan. The film was officially announced six days ago, and in that announcement, Disney seemed to make a concerted effort to ensure that the lead would, in fact, be of Chinese descent.



So what’s the problem? ConcernedForMulan opened the guest post with the following statement:

“A white merchant’s business brings him to the heart of a legendary Asian conflict — he unwittingly helps save the day while winning the heart of the Asian female. Am I describing the plotline of the Netflix series Marco Polo? No. I’m describing the spec script that Disney bought for its live-action feature film, The Legend of Mulan, which is projected for release in 2018.”

The poster goes into greater detail about the male lead’s significance in the plot. This male lead won’t be in a supporting role. Instead, this man seems to be the main character of the whole film:

“The man is a 30-something European trader who initially cares only for the pleasure of women and money. The only reason why he and his entourage decide to help the Chinese Imperial Army is because he sets eyes on Mulan. That’s right. Our white savior has come to the aid of Ancient China due to a classic case of Yellow Fever. In this script written by Lauren Hynek and Elizabeth Martin, more than half of its pages are dedicated to this merchant who develops a mutual attraction with Mulan and fights to protect her in the ensuing battles. To top it all off, this man gets the honor of defeating the primary enemy of China, not Mulan. Way to steal a girl’s thunder.”

I can hear you rolling your eyes again (you should probably get that checked out). 

Like I said, I get it. The term Social Justice Warrior — a term that’s been tainted in today’s society — comes to mind. Over-sensitive in nature and quick to excite, these SJWs tend to make a big deal over everything, right?

My problem with this is that Disney knows diversity in Hollywood is a problem. They understand the perception, and in a story where all the characters were originally Chinese, they managed to finagle a white male into the picture for (I assume) fear that they won’t be able to sell a film on a Chinese or Asian-American cast. This isn’t a case where they’d have to change source material to keep the cast all Asian. This is a case where they’d literally have to go out of their way — changing the source material, mind you — to ensure there’s a white face at the forefront, and that the white face is one of the main drivers of the story.

The poster goes on to state that rather than hire an established Chinese actress for the female lead (as opposed to an Asian-American actress), they’re also missing a huge opportunity, but I won’t even go there. 

All in all, the message is calling to hopefully bring this attention to the forefront so that Disney can make changes to the story before moving forward into the production stage.

Now, before I finish up, I think it’s worth noting that this post is unverified. Anyone could have written it, and there’s a chance that they’re spreading fallacies just for the hell of it. But, should this prove true, I do think this marks a significant step back for Hollywood — an industry that’s always pushed for equality in the country, all while consistently resting back into the more familiar white leads. In a post #OscarsSoWhite world, I expected better.

This is no attempt to victimize minorities by any means, but it certainly seems to be the latest in an ongoing trend — a trend that won’t change so long as we keep accepting it.

Okay, now that I’m off my soapbox, I wantto hear your thoughts. Assuming this news is true, do you believe this is the right move from Disney to cast a white male lead in Mulan? Let us know your thoughts down below! 

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SOURCE: Angry Asian Man

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.