The new Mulan movie is facing a barrage of criticism—and promises to boycott—for filming near Chinese concentration camps and then thanking the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for the privilege.
The film—a live-action version of the 1998 Disney cartoon by the same name—is based on Chinese folklore about a young woman (Hua Mulan) who pretends to be a boy so that she can fight in her father's place when he is conscripted into the Chinese army. In a sense, it's a tale about cleverness, bravery, and familial love helping to overcome hardships brought about by a violent and overbearing government.
That's makes Disney's filming location—Xinjiang—an extra slap in the face. Xinjiang is where China has been holding Uighurs in concentration camps and subjecting them and other Muslim minorities to horrible human rights abuses.
"The repression of ethnic Uighurs and Kazakhs in the western part of the country has been increasingly brutal and systematic," explained Daniel Drezner at Reason in April. "The erection of a massive network of internment facilities, prisons, and forced labor camps speaks to the regime's ruthlessness and deep illiberalism."
Which brings us back to Mulan. After the movie's Friday release "observers noted [that] in the final credits Disney offers 'special thanks' to eight government entities in Xinjiang, including the public security bureau in Turpan, a city in eastern Xinjiang where several re-education camps have been documented," notes The Guardian. In addition:
The film also expresses thanks to the "publicity department of CPC Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomy Region Committee", the Chinese Communist party's propaganda department in Xinjiang. Disney has been approached for comment. […]
Activists calling for a boycott of the film are now highlighting its links to Xinjiang, while other researchers noted that the public security bureau in Turpan oversees at least 14 internment camps in the area.
Mulan specifically thank the publicity department of CPC Xinjiang uyghur autonomous region committee in the credits.
You know, the place where the cultural genocide is happening.
— Jeannette Ng 吳志麗 (@jeannette_ng) September 7, 2020
"It's sufficiently astonishing that it bears repeating: Disney has thanked four propaganda departments and a public security bureau in Xinjiang, a region in northwest China that is the site of one of the world's worst human rights abuses happening today," writes Washington Post contributor .
"Disney has a long and ongoing relationship with China, where its films often find success in theaters and where its Shanghai Disneyland theme park resides," notes The Verge. And the company is expecting the new Mulan to do well in China where, unlike the U.S., it will actually be shown in theaters.
"Theatrically, Mulan has generated $6 million in limited markets—including Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore—in its first weekend The film is slated to be released in China on September 11th," The Verge adds.
I'm really not a big fan of boycotts, but there's probably a good case to be made for refusing to see Mulan. https://t.co/vlI22IEVjU
— Robby Soave (@robbysoave) September 7, 2020
Disney decided to forgo a U.S. theatrical release and sell the movie directly to Disney+ app users for $30 (plus the price of a Disney+ subscription fee). "Whether or not pressure from protesters to boycott Mulan worked may remain unclear for a while," since "Disney doesn't have to disclose how many digital copies of Mulan it's sold via Disney Plus," The Verge notes.
Mulan's release has already been tied to a huge spike in Disney+ app downloads, suggesting political pressure may do little to dampen the film's U.S. popularity.
I think any candidate who is on the ballot in enough states to win 270 electoral votes should be included in the presidential debates. Agree? https://t.co/VzwLZQYTo8
— Nick Gillespie (@nickgillespie) September 6, 2020
• The FIRST STEP Act has "resulted in shorter sentences for more than 4,000 drug offenders." But "while that is nothing to sneeze at, it is a modest accomplishment in the context of a federal prison system that keeps more than 150,000 Americans, including more than 68,000 drug offenders, behind bars," notes Reason's Jacob Sullum.
• Out of Ireland, another example of how laws criminalizing sex work in the name of "protecting" vulnerable women almost always end up coming down hardest on those same women: "A new study of brothel keeping convictions in Ireland shows almost all of those convicted are migrant women," reports The Independent.
• How Arizona—"which hasn't been won by a Democratic presidential nominee since 1996″—became a swing state.
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• The more you know…
I'm sure you know this by now, but the reason ABBA wore those wild costumes was because Swedish tax law would only let you write off costumes/clothes as business expenses on your taxes if you couldn't possibly wear them on the street.
— Nicole Cliffe (@Nicole_Cliffe) September 7, 2020