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The Politics of HollyWeird: Move Along, Mulan

Reimagining Golden Girls and Netflix aligning with royalty.

Editor’s Note: Whether on screen or off, Hollywood can always be counted on to keep us entertained. This is especially true when it comes to politics. Join us each week as we shine the spotlight on Tinsel Town’s A-listers and their wacky and sometimes inspiring takes on today’s current events.

Mulan Facing Backlash and Boycott for Filming Location

Disney’s Mulan is getting a lot of publicity lately, just not the good kind. The moviemakers filmed the live-action remake partially in China’s Xinjiang Province, where Beijing is purported to be committing human rights abuses against the Uyghur Muslims. If that was all, fans and critics might not have reacted so vehemently as to start a massive boycotting movement. But that’s just a part of the big picture.

The #BoycottMulan movement was already gaining momentum in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Thailand because of leading actress Liu Yifei’s comments in support of Hong Kong police against proponents of democracy. Now, more fuel has been added to the fire after the screening of the film, especially the credits and the studio’s “special thanks” to Chinese government agencies named as the alleged abusers.

Last summer, Liu, the Chinese American star of the film, posted on the Chinese social media site Weibo: “I support Hong Kong’s police, you can beat me up now. What a shame for Hong Kong.” Hong Kong activist leader Joshua Wong lambasted the actress on Twitter: “Because Disney kowtows to Beijing, and because Liu Yifei openly and proudly endorses police brutality in Hong Kong, I urge everyone who believes in human rights to #BoycottMulan.”

The boycott rapidly gained momentum after it was revealed that the studio offered thanks to eight Chinese government agencies, among them the public security bureau located in the city of Turpan that supposedly operates more than a dozen “re-education camps” holding Uyghurs.

Mulan reportedly was shot in 20 different locations in China, including the Tuyuk Valley to the east of Turpan and the Mingsha Shan desert, which goes into Xinjiang. Even more upset with this new development, Wong sent out the following tweet:

“It just keeps getting worse! Now, when you watch #Mulan, not only are you turning a blind eye to police brutality and racial injustice [due to what the lead actors stand for], you’re also potentially complicit in the mass incarceration of Muslim Uyghurs. #BoycottMulan”

China, however, claims the detention camps in Xinjiang do not violate human rights but are part of a peaceful effort to improve security and economic development.

Golden Girls Get Black Makeover

Who can forget the comedy series centered around four women in their golden years living as roommates in Miami, FL, and the ditzy character Rose Nylund played by iconic comedienne Betty White? The classic is still running on television stations today. Now, however, the beloved show is getting a makeover in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the new Golden Girls will be portrayed by black actresses.

The sitcom, which ran between 1985 and 1992, will be reintroduced in a one-night Zoom special broadcast, as it seeks to “reimagine” the storyline from a black perspective. Tracee Ellis Ross (Girlfriends, Black-ish), 47, will be taking White’s role of Rose, while Regina King (227) will portray Dorothy Zbornak. Sanaa Lathan (Nip/Tuck) will take over as Blanche Devereaux, and Alfre Woodard (12 Years a Slave) will finish out the cast as Dorothy’s mother, Sophia Petrillo. The special was made possible through a collaboration with Zoom and Color of Change, “the nation’s largest online racial justice organization.”

Not everyone is happy about the development, though. One black commenter said, “As much as I would love to see y’all make magic together, it would be nice to see an original piece of work and leave this classic alone. I would never want to see white counterparts redo your original work or anyone for that matter. I love y’all too much not to support but I’m just saying … ”

Cheers and Jeers

Sometimes, HollyWeird players make headlines for silly or bizarre happenings, so here is a collection of newsworthy doings — honorable and dishonorable — by the tenants of Tinsel Town.

Kaepernick Is Back

Mr. Take a Knee himself, Colin Kaepernick, is back on the scene and available to play in Madden NFL 21, according to EA Sports. While he isn’t throwing touchdowns on a real field, fans can choose his character for their gaming experience.

EA said in a statement that Kaepernick is one of the top free agents in football and that millions of fans want to see him back again. “Knowing that our EA Sports experiences are platforms for players to create, we want to make Madden NFL a place that reflects Colin’s position and talent, rates him as a starting QB, and empowers our fans to express their hopes for the future of football.”

Netflix and Royals Unite – Brits Not Impressed

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle joined forces with the streaming conglomerate Netflix with a multi-year content deal that allows for scripted and unscripted documentaries, feature films, TV series, and even kids’ programming. Co-CEO and chief content officer of Netflix Ted Sarandos is excited about the move, saying, “We’re incredibly proud they have chosen Netflix as their creative home — and are excited about telling stories with them that can help build resilience and increase understanding for audiences everywhere.” However, the prospect of the royals merging with Netflix hasn’t been received as joyfully across the pond.

A poll by YouGov asked the question: “Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan have announced that they have solidified their plans to make wide-ranging film and TV content for Netflix. How interested are you, if at all, in watching this?” The internet-based market research company asked 2,713 adults in Britain, and here are the results:

  • Not interested at all: 64%
  • Not very interested: 20%
  • Interested: 12%
  • Fairly interested: 9%
  • Very interested: 3%

The younger, the better, at least for those who wish to see content produced by the royal couple. The poll revealed that “18-24-year-olds (23%) are by far the most likely age group to say they would be interested.” On the opposite end, only 5% of those aged between 50 and 65 showed any interest.

Tune in next week to see what else Tinsel Town has planned.


Read more from Kelli Ballard.

Read More From Kelli Ballard

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