A petition has surfaced online urging Disney not to let the new live-action “Mulan” movie fall victim to Hollywood “whitewashing.” Two weeks ago, news that Disney – emboldened by the success of March’s live-action remake of “Cinderella” – was developing a similar remake of “Mulan” immediately sent fans into a frenzy. Although many Disney fans are excited that the popular 1998 animated movie is getting a reboot, others have expressed concern.
A petition on Care2 Petitions – titled “Tell Disney You Don't Want A Whitewashed Mulan!” – calls for Disney to cast Asian or Asian-American actors in the upcoming “Mulan” film instead of relying on exclusively Caucasian actors. A children’s librarian named Natalie Molnar from Michigan started the petition and says that casting white actors in roles written for people of color sends a harmful message.
“Whitewashing beloved characters of color tells children that if they're not white themselves, then they can't be the hero,” Molnar said in a press release.
The petition cites “Pan” and “The Last Airbender” as instances where this has been the case in films in the past. More recently, Dreamworks' decision to cast “Avengers” star Scarlett Johansson as the lead in an upcoming live-action adaptation of “Ghost in the Shell” – instead of an Asian actress – drew heavy criticism. Molnar hopes Disney breaks that trend.
“Taking away ‘Mulan''s potentially breakout roles from Asian-American actors and actresses in favor of casting Caucasians would be nothing short of racist,” Molnar said.
Molnar’s petition has over 24,000 signatures as of Friday afternoon and is on pace to easily reach its set target of 25,000 signatures.
Will Disney take notice? Only time will tell. No decisions on the casting for “Mulan” have been made at this time. Disney has not yet responded to the petition.