Recently, a friend and I were discussing “Hotty McBody-San, Captain Li” because of this Buzzfeed article. While Li Shang is clearly the hottest Disney “Prince” there is, that is really neither here nor there for the intents and purposes of my little soapbox here. As KJ mentioned, Mulan is an underrated movie. It has a kick-ass female hero, solid bad guys, fantastic soundtrack, and distinctive art. But it’s more than that.
As a child, I loved Mulan because of aforementioned strengths of said film. Something about it just made me sparkle inside. Even now, I get excited watching it. Like, “Yeah! Kick his ass! Be the best! Woo!”
But that isn’t really important, either.
Watching this movie as an adult, I can see and appreciate Mulan’s “different-ness.” Mulan is someone (or anyone) who can’t help but to fail at being what society expects of her, because her strengths lie elsewhere. She finds outstanding success and, ultimately, external acceptance once she finds her strengths and utilizes her talents in novel ways. We’ve all been the person who doesn’t fit in with the norm, who fails, who struggles at one point or another.
But more than that, I can now see Mulan as a gay or possibly transgendered person. It’s a pretty easy leap, I think, to argue for either. The entire song “Reflection” is about her not recognizing her own reflection, not being able to pass for a perfect bride or daughter, and not feeling comfortable in her own skin generally. It’s a kids’ movie, so the message isn’t overt, but (and this is from a straight, cis-gendered person) I think there are a lot of kids out there who could relate more than the writers of this movie ever intended.
And that’s beautiful. Mulan saves her entire freakin’ country, simply by being herself and using her own unique skills and ideas. What a great message to anyone who feels lost, wrong, or inferior for any reason! Sometimes simply seeing another person, even a fictional one, overcome their hurdles can inspire you to overcome your own.
Yeah, reality is harsh and sometimes we don’t find acceptance or love from those around us. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be true to yourself, because you have a lot to offer the world just as you are (well, you might want to hone your talents, but the point is to go with what you’re good at or interested in rather than make yourself miserable trying to be something you’re not or please someone else).
This is what I’ve learned from Mulan.