• Loren Javier

Of Mermaids And Mulan

Updated: Jul 11, 2019

There has been a lot of controversial news from Disney to come out over the last few days and I wanted a chance to address it.

First, Walt Disney Studios formally announced that Grown-ish star Halle Bailey will play Ariel in the upcoming live action version of The Little Mermaid. Bailey's being African American sparked a firestorm of often racist commentary throughout social media.

Some people tried to argue that Ariel had to be white because she comes from a Danish fairy tale. Freeform, which is the home network of Bailey's Grown-ish, had the best reply to this criticism...

But, honestly, Mermaids have existed in many different cultures, including African culture and even American culture. So, who's to say that a Mermaid cannot be black because we are talking, at the end of the day, about a mythological creature.

I applaud Disney for not being afraid to look at casting the best candidate regardless of race. As long as Bailey is able to beautifully sing the classic songs from the movie and bring her A-game to acting the role, I have no problem with who they cast. I hope those who criticize the casting will eventually give her a chance. Regardless, Ms. Bailey does not deserve the hate cast against her.

Now, on to Mulan. Walt Disney Studios released a teaser trailer for the live action version of Mulan.

While news had spilled out earlier that Mushu would be replaced by a Phoenix and that there would be no singing of the classic songs, this trailer all but confirmed it. On top of that, Li Shang appears to be missing from the film. And, of course, another firestorm of commentary criticizing the changes ignited across social media.

What this trailer did give us was an epic period piece worthy of the folk legend Hua Mulan.

People don't realize that Disney's animated Mulan is not popular in China itself because some of the elements did not live up to their culture. I love Mushu as much as the next person, but, to the Chinese, he made no sense. Mulan was her own soldier who did not need guidance from such a creature. Also criticized among the Chinese was Mulan's having a love interest. In her folk legend, she did not need a love interest. She did her job to the best of her ability. So, it makes sense that Disney, while taking a new pass at Mulan, would want to fix some of the elements that were criticized in China. This is not a "cash grab" as some suggest, but an effort to want to do the right thing.

As for the missing songs, Disney is trying to do an period martial arts film and it wouldn't seem right for people to break out in song. I think the instrumentals will work much better for the film they are creating. Mulan was never so much a musical than a movie with songs anyway,

And so, once again, I applaud Disney's effort to bring to life a proper telling of the story of Mulan.

People criticize Disney for trying to do things too close to the original, but then, at the same time, criticize them when they do something different. Have trust that Disney will deliver something great. And, if you don't like it still after you watch it, then you can criticize it. But, criticizing something you haven't seen yet doesn't make sense.

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