Let’s get down to business. The casting kerfuffle over Disney’s live-action remake of the 1998 animated hit Mulan brings honor to none. It’s a politically correct tempest in a Chinese teapot.
More than 90,000 angry activists have now signed a petition “to tell Disney that we demand to see them cast an Asian Mulan.” The lead instigator, Michigan children’s librarian Natalie Molnar, vented against the practice of “whitewashing”–that is, employing “white Caucasian actors and actresses in roles originally meant to be characters of color.”
Extreme racial and ethnic bean-counting is necessary, even in a remake of a cartoon, the petitioners argue, because “children benefit from finding themselves represented in fiction.”
Once again, privileged progressives demonstrate how arbitrary, capricious, and ridiculous militant identity politics can be. Last year, Asian-American leftists attacked director Cameron Crowe for casting Emma Stone as a mixed-race character in the romantic comedy Aloha. It didn’t matter whether Stone pulled off the role; the protesters were too busy administering racial and ethnic litmus tests for employment in the entertainment industry.
This year, grievance-mongers moaned about the casting of mixed-race actress Zoe Saldana as black jazz legend Nina Simone and white actress Scarlett Johansson as a Japanese Manga cartoon figure.
Heidi Yeung, editor for a South China Morning Post–owned website, is pushing for Korean-American Daniel Dae Kim to play the villainous role of Shan Yu–in part because he has “almost identical cheekbones to the animated character.” Diversity!
Additionally, she wants Japanese-American George Takei to play the Chinese emperor and another Korean American, Margaret Cho, to play the Chinese matchmaker.