A movement to boycott Disney’s upcoming Mulan remake has started after the lead actress made a statement supporting the Hong Kong police.
The live-action Mulan became a surprise addition to Hong Kong's ongoing pro-democracy, anti-police brutality protests after Crystal Liu, the Chinese-born actress who plays Mulan, took to the Chinese social media platform Weibo to post on the issue. Liu shared an image originally released by the state-backed People's Daily, reading: "I support Hong Kong's police, you can beat me up now," (a recent meme) followed by, "What a shame for Hong Kong." Liu added the hashtag "IAlsoSupportTheHongKongPolice" and a heart emoji. The post received over 72,000 likes and over 65,000 shares in less than 24 hours.
Outside of China, however, the hashtag #BoycottMulan has begun to trend on Twitter and Instagram. Liu's statement had sparked an instant outcry in Hong Kong, where the local police have been accused by international human rights groups of excessive use of force in confrontations with protesters and the public. One of the most viral tweets, with over 10,000 likes and retweets, came from Twitter user @sdnorton who wrote the following:
The boycott was initiated by users of Lihkg, a Reddit-esque online discussion forum in Hong Kong that has served as a sort of information hub for the leader-less protest movement. Members of the community have organized local protests and demonstrations, and launched crowdfunding campaigns for overseas promotions of the movement that have raised a lot of money.
While the protests began in response to a bill that would have allowed Hong Kong residents charged with a crime to be extradited to mainland China, the protesters have since shifted their demands, calling for an independent investigation into police brutality (which has intensified to levels the United Nations Human Rights Council publicly disapproved of on Tuesday) and universal suffrage for the election of the city's chief executive, with many among the movement saying they are now fighting for outright democracy in Hong Kong.
While the Hong Kong box office is tiny compared to the industry-shaping Chinese one, the boycott's organizers are hoping for international support for their campaign, calling for worldwide filmgoers “who support freedom and democracy” to join in. In the meantime, the Mulan film will be releasing March 27th, 2020. We’ll have to wait and see how this story develops for now.