So, Mulan came out in what, 1998? So I was about 5 when it came out. Most of the stuff I remember is pretty vague. I think I learned about ‘sizzling sausages’ and something about a lemon in kindergarten. And I remember learning how to change the date from 1998 to 1999.
Mulan was a pretty big fucking deal though. I remember that pretty vividly. My family freaking celebrated that that movie existed, regardless of historical/cultural inaccuracies or whatever. We’re not even Chinese, and we were making such a big deal out of it.
My daddy was so happy, and he was telling me how maybe next they’d make a Korean princess. And I kind of wanted it, since yea, I liked Mulan, but she was Chinese. There’s nothing wrong with being Chinese, but to every white person, I was Chinese. So although I was happy with the Asian representation, it was still like, “all Asians are Chinese.” And it was still like, “Well, we got the Chinese princess in, so that can cover all of Asia except, like, India*, but we already half-covered that by substituting in the Middle East in Aladdin.”
Everyone used to ask me if I was Chinese, and when I said no, they went straight to Japanese. When I was in first grade, I casually mentioned Korea, and nobody knew what that was, so I figured it was pretty unimportant. My daddy always made it seem super important, but as a father I kind of assumed his job was to make me feel special. It wasn’t until later that I realized Korea was a bigger deal than I originally thought, and at that point people were asking me if I was from the “good” Korea or the “bad” one.
Mulan was a big event in my life. And it was sad, since it was such a huge event, and it didn’t even technically apply to me. But hey, I’d take what I could get. She was my favorite for a really long time, and she might still be, Idunno. She was my favorite ‘cause she was cool and I was a bit of a tomboy, and my family made such a big deal about it that how could I not like her? But the main point is, she looked enough like me. She looked enough like me that people consistently asked me if I was the same as her, and we ate the same foods and stuff.
This new version does not look like either of us. This new version is not the princess/warrior/whatever that my family made such a big fucking deal about, and she’s not the same person I dressed up as and quoted and idolized. She’s like Jim Sturgess when they photoshopped him to look Asian. She’s like all those actresses who put their eyeliner in a different way to look Asian. She’s like them, and not even facepainted. She’s not Mulan, and she’s not me or my sisters or any other little Asian girl. And that’s fucking sad.
*Edited: I was thinking of the Taj Mahal-esque building in the movie when I wrote this and did not mean to offend any Indian or Middle Eastern people. My most sincere apologies.