One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Disney Edition

Recently, it was brought to my attention by a friend of mine that Disney has made a big screw up (again). With the upcoming (but we don’t know how much waiting we’ll be doing) live-action Mulan movie, the company has been under scrutiny with fears that producers and directors just might end up white-washing the film or make Mulan into a damsel, something that it's 1998 animated movie has been praised for keeping away from when it was first created.

One of the biggest fears was from rumors of having a white man coming in to be a savior. Disney, however, was quick to put that to rest by stating that it wasn’t the plan. The script that it bought was, according to them, was for fresh ideas (sure Disney, let's go with that). For a moment, it seemed that they were going to keep from screwing up, but now? Doesn’t seem so.

The newest rumor floating around is the removal of the one and only Li Shang from the story altogether. Whenever something is remade or adapted, changes have to be made to keep the story interesting and from being the exact same. The live action Beauty and the Beast received some flack for being too much like it’s 1991 original film. However, the problem with removing Shang comes from him one of the most important characters in the entire plot and Mulan’s character development.

Beyond that, he is considered to be an example of an LGBTQ+ character in animated films. While Disney has never confirmed that fan theory (nor do I think they ever will), it has not stopped fans from believing that this is the case. Removing him, is, in a way, considered a slap in the face for those that identify as bisexual. With the LGBTQ+ community clamoring for representation within media, removing Shang seemingly comes as a step back from the progress that has been made.

In the 2017 Beauty and the Beast, they made blatantly obvious allusions to two queer characters that had not previously been given much light (one of whom, being added to the live action film). It seems as though Disney takes one step forward then two giant steps back with their progression.

If these rumors prove to be true, I suspect that there will be plenty of people protesting the film because of Disney’s actions.