Posted by Tom Chapman @tchapman
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Tom Chapman

Uh-oh, time to open up old wounds - this time, it's Disney whose head is on the chopping block. A petition to prevent the whitewashing of the upcoming Mulan live-action film has reached its goal of 90,000 signatures. It is a story that couldn't be more relevant, especially this year, as controversy surrounding the apparent 'whitewashing' of Hollywood has hit its peak. Is Mulan safe from the huns and Hollywood too?

It'll Come Out in the Wash

Image: Paramount Pictures
Image: Paramount Pictures

Petition creator Natalie Molnar aims to prevent a white actress playing the warrior from China, amidst fears of more Hollywood whitewashing. The whitewashing issue has been in contention for decades - as far back (and even before) Mickey Rooney's outrageous performance as Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. However, over the past couple of years Hollywood has reignited was the the fires of controversy. Cameron Crowe's Aloha cast Emma Stone as Allison Ng, described as a quarter Chinese and a quarter Hawaiian. Crowe apologised, whilst Stone said:

Image: Marvel
Image: Marvel

Pan, Prince of Persia and Gods of Egypt were all criticized for their highly westernized casting. However, in probably the biggest controversy in recent times, it was the casting of Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One in Marvel's Dr. Strange which brought the argument closer to Disney's door. This year alone there has been a catalog of unfortunate castings, including Scarlett Johansson in the Ghost in the Shell and the rumoured casting of Michael Barbieri as Korean American Ganke in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Let's just say that some members of the public are keen to get some assurance that upcoming releases won't make the same mistakes. Molnar's petition states:

The character, story and fans deserve the best retelling of the story Disney can produce and although the film was only announced 30 March [2015] this disturbing trend of whitewashing in big-budget movies can't get a chance to take root in Mulan as well.

Disney Magic

Image: Disney
Image: Disney

Disney's live-action slate is jam-packed with the likes of Cruella, Dumbo, and Tinkerbell taking us through to 2019, with Mulan joining the ranks. Luckily, Disney's track-record of diversity is pretty impressive...so far. This year's The Jungle Book stayed true to its roots, with Neel Sethi playing the titular Mowgli - the film also starred Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o and Giancarlo Esposito in major roles. Secondly, Disney's next film Moana follows a young Polynesian girl in search of a fabled island; Moana stars Hawaiian-born Auli’i Cravalho as Moana, alongside Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson. So, is such concern warranted for Mulan?

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Mu-'ll Be Alright

Image: Disney
Image: Disney

With the Asian box-office becoming an increasingly important market, and the hype surrounding the likes of Ghost in the Shell, Mulan is the perfect Disney adaptation. Announced back in 2015, there is still no set release date for the story of the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan. The 1998 cartoon raked in over $300 million, and spawned a (Eddie Murhpy-less) direct-to-video sequel. You only have to see fan reactions to the Beauty and the Beast live-action trailer to see that Disney's roster means big business for the world's beloved animation studio. Who will play Mulan remains to be seen, but Molnar's petition seems set to prevent another whitewashing debacle.

Let's hope we get the kickass Mulan we deserve. Let us know what you think about the controversy in the comments, and be sure to check out our rundown of the most badass females in pop culture below!