Dissimilar to your average Disney film about a Caucasian princess needing to be saved by a an, Mulan is shown to be strong independent, and capable and also of a different ethnic background. Regardless of all of the clear, positive messages and morals the story of Mulan has some latent messages that are not so easily recognizable. First and foremost even though the film takes place in China very few characters have noticeable accents. Mulan has a fair skin tone and rounder eyes which are seen as more attractive, Shang the male lead also has no sign of an accent.
Also characters like the council member Chi Fu are drawn very stereotypically and negatively. He is short, squinty-eyed, rude and supercilious. He is also a sexist, telling Mulan to hold her tongue in the presence of a man and belittling her even after she saves China. The importance of this is that the film portrays the “good guys” as closer to the generic white stereotype and anything distant or not on par with it is seen as bad and put in a negative light. Furthermore Mulan is abundant with a mass amount of sexual stereotyping.
The first song, “Honor To Us All”, has the following lyrics: “A girl can bring her family great honor in one way, by striking a good match, and his could be the day. Men want girls with good taste, calm, obedient, who work fast-paced. With good breeding and a tiny waist… ” (Minna, 2012). It gives the idea that the only value Mulan and all other women have is to look pretty, get married and speak when spoken to, and essentially be an accessory to a man. Also there are many times where the word “girl” is used as a derogatory term. When Mulan is outed as a woman Chi Fu says, “I knew there was something wrong with you!
A woman! ” and later says, “She’ll never be worth anything! She’s a woman! (Minna, 2012). The idea that Women are worth less than men is reinforced constantly throughout the film. Moreover, gender stereotypes dont only pertain to women. The song “Be a Man” glorifies the stereotype of what a man should be, big, strong fearless, and brave. It is also important to mention that Mulan internalizes these messages and must “become a man” in order to save China because clearly in that time period woman couldn’t be as swift, strong and competent as a man can.
All things considered the film Mulan is rife with an intense amount of gender and racial tereotypes and expectations in which some are not so easily identifiable. The Theories Mulan is a good, indisputable example of the conflict theory proposed by Karl Marx. The theory states that those with wealth and power will try to maintain it in any way that they can, primarily by repressing those without power. This imbalance and inequality can cause conflicts ranging from arguments, to fist fights and even an all-out war.
The major plotline of the film is based on this theory alone. The Hun are a ruthless clan of people hungry for power and influence. They invade China in hopes of gaining power and attempt to overthrow the Chinese kingdom. They are barbarized and dehumanized and therefore made to seem lower or below the upper class (the citizens of China). This inequality between classes causes conflict between two opposing sides in Mulan and is a clear representation of the conflict theory in action.
Secondly, feminist theory is another theory that is illustrated perfectly throughout the film. It evaluates gender inequality in our society today as well as injustice, stereotyping and the objectification of women. The story of Mulan embodies this theory so much so that it wouldnt be too farfetched to believe that the movie was based off of this theory alone. Within the first ten minutes of the film Mulan is prettied up and sent off to a matchmaker who will determine her worth as a potential bride to a man.
She is told that she has to impress the matchmaker and bring honor to her family and if she doesn’t she will disgrace them. Mulan is portrayed as simply an object to be attained by some man and that her only worth, the only way to bring any orm of “honor” to her family must be done by staying quiet, looking pretty, and obeying her would be suitor. She is disrespected when trying to speak out for her father and Chi Fu says that she should hold her tongue in the presence of a man.
Her father later yells at are and tells her to learn her place. When she is discovered to be a woman she is almost executed, and in the Imperial City, Mulan discovers that no one will listen to her warnings that the Huns are still alive because, as her sidekick Mushu puts it, ‘You’re a girl again” (Minna, 2012). All these examples point to the fact that women are viewed as unequal to men, a very evident portrayal of the feminist theory. The third and final theory that is very noticeable in Disney’s Mulan is symbolic interactionism.
The theory basically states that individuals act differently and attempt to conform to the norm and that we act differently based on how people will perceive us. Mulan is forced to act like a man, display traits that are seen as manly and change her overall persona just to fit into a mold in which she feels that her fellow soldiers and superiors will ccept and approve of. She is forced to act differently and change who she is based solely on how she thinks others will view her. The Article Media is highly effective, efficient, and influential form of socialization. Under the tutelage of Disney and other megacorporations, children have become an audience captive not only to traditional forms of media such as film, television and print, but even more so to the new digital media made readily accessible through mobile phones, PDAs, laptop computers and the Internet” (Giroux, 201 1). Disney in particular has a huge impact on youth. For any people movies like Cinderella, The Lion King, The Jungle Book, Mulan and a plethora of other films are household names as early as when they can speak and understand basic concepts such as right and wrong and good and bad. From an early age, children are taught how act and conduct themselves in society simply by watching their favorite Disney characters. Boys are influenced by characters such as Tarzan, Hercules, Simba, Aladdin and even Buzz Lightyear whom they visualize as being brave, strong and powerful men of action while girls are influenced by characters like Cinderella, Snow white, Sleeping beauty et cetera all of whom are submissive to the male characters and are waiting for their prince Charming’s to rescue them from their woes” (Kastiro/DelVecchio, 2011).
Children and teenagers enter the real world influenced by the recurring messages presented in Disneys near endless amount of films. The predominant message being that of gender roles in which women are seen as helpless and in need of rescuing and men their brave, heroic saviors. “The basic and archaic attributes of femininity and masculinity derived from the beloved Disney characters define not just the oles our children will play in life, but also their potential” (Kastiro/DelVecchio, 201 1).
Disney films and many forms of media that are targeted towards children and teens are highly influential in the ways in which they affect socialization. They in large part shape their minds and perceptions of how the world is and not necessarily in a positive way. In conclusion, Mulan and Disney as a whole have a colossal role in the socialization of young people today. The morals and norms that are displayed to them at early ages mold them into the social creatures that they will inevitably become with ideals and n outlook of society that is primitive and outmoded.