It seems to be written in the Disney movie rule books that where there’s a girl, there has to be a boy. But not just any boy. Disney law states that every girl needs a saviour, someone to complete what was so blatantly incomplete before and rescue her from what would otherwise be a life of never ending unhappiness.
Growing up, I admit to believing this might actually be the case for quite some time, and my main goal in life became that of finding my prince on the primary school playground. But after multiple attempts of leaving my Adidas Velcro trainers in various boys’ paths and receiving no search party for my foot in return, I soon became aware that a) Disney was bullshit and b) I actually didn’t need someone to find my shoe and come looking for me. I abandoned my Disney princess costumes and decided I wanted to be a Spice Girl instead, because they didn’t sit around waiting for men and ‘2 become 1’ was an absolute banger.
Yet my apathy with Disney was soon changed when I sat down to watch the film Mulan. There were no dresses or sparkles and the singing to animals was done at a much more tolerable level. This was a film about a girl failing to fit society’s mould of a perfect daughter, defying gender expectations and ultimately saving not only herself, but also her country. Mulan was in many ways our generation’s first feminist icon, so why the hell are Disney taking that away from us?
Following an open letter exposing the potential script for the movie remake, it has soon become apparent that Disney have no intention of continuing their (literally only) feminist narrative. It appears in the script that Mulan is to be sidelined by a secondary character, a mere love interest, and her role instead played by a white European male. Yes. A movie about Chinese people, Chinese honour and girl power is to be dominated by a white man.
Not only does this totally miss the point of the film as a tribute to female empowerment by a few million miles, it also carries allegations of white washing and colonial pride. Disney may have missed the history lesson (perhaps it was on the same day as the politics one), but more often than not, the arrival of white Europeans was not something that was generally greeted with big cheers and happiness, and it definitely wasn’t the start of a lovely mushy romance.
The idea that in 2016 girls (even animated ones) still cannot be complete, fulfilled or inspirational without a male partner is just ridiculous. Our society produces these amazing, strong women and yet we constantly ask them, ‘where is your man?’. The idea that a woman could just exist, complete and successful on her own, is seeming to be too much for even the fictional world, never mind the real one to grasp. Young girls need more narratives like Mulan, not less of them. And the sooner Disney realises this the better.
(Image courtesy of Hello Giggles)