Spotlight: The Golden Mickey’s Show on the Disney Wonder

Musings, Spotlight
golden mickey

“Lights, cameras, acceptance speeches!”  On our first night aboard the Disney Wonder, we caught the Golden Mickey’s show.  In my previous post, I mentioned how I cried my eyes out during the “heroism” part of the show, which showcased Tarzan, Quasimodo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Mulan.  Now you would guess that I would have cried hardest for the Mulan number.  But it was actually quite the opposite.

The sequence consisted of a “karate-style” dance to Be A Man, which is fine.  That’s how the scene is in the movie.  But there weren’t even any Asian dancers in the mix. 😑  Granted, we were sitting in one of the back rows, but I’m pretty sure Mulan and Li Shang were white performers.  And let’s get real for a second.  If this were a Princess and the Frog segment, and Tiana came out as a white person, that wouldn’t fly.  And not even as a white person wearing blackface, just literally as a white actor playing Tiana.  But when it comes to white people portraying Asians or Asian Americans, it’s much more acceptable. Just look at all these movies that have committed whitewashing.  And studios don’t seem to see anything wrong with that.  And that’s frustrating.

GM mulan

Photo of Mulan sequence above found on google images.

Now those who are familiar with the Asian or Asian American experience, probably know that more often than not, Asians love to emulate white/western culture.  Bigger eyes, lighter skin and hair, pointier noses.  And Asian Americans specifically tried to be more “white” to better assimilate into American culture.  So this craving to distance the group from “Asian-ness,” from being seen as foreigners, would seem to be the culprit for letting a white actress play Mulan like it was no big deal.  But of course, as with any issue related to race or intersecting identities, there is so much more to this than just wanting to be “less Asian.”  But I won’t hold you captive here.

My end game again is this — Tiana, Disney’s first black princess, is now part of many different Disney attractions and shows.  But Disney knows not to hire a white woman to play Tiana.  They would never imagine to do that (I would hope at least).  But for some reason, it’s ok to have a non-Asian play Mulan in a live show.  Do Disney and other entertainment powerhouses get away with it because Asians are the model minorities who won’t make a big fuss over it?  Maybe they figure there isn’t as much backlash to be had because many Asians have wanted to attain a certain level of “whiteness” for so long now that it’s almost second nature?

And for some reason, the only way to get something like this to change is to make a fuss over it.  To be vocal about it.  But why do we always need to rally?  It’s tiring!  I’m tired of having to point out the obvious.  But I guess what’s obvious to me, isn’t always obvious to others.  Oh how I long for the day when the people running these entertainment companies finally realize that accurate, yet diverse, portrayals and representations of POC are necessary.  Anything other than that is unacceptable.

*end rant*

ABW

Note: These comments are my own opinions and this is just what I’ve observed and encountered in my life.  Also, I understand that Disney has made huge strides, specifically in recent animated films, to be inclusive of different ethnic groups.  In this post, I am speaking specifically about the one show I watched while aboard the Disney Wonder.  This could very well have been a one time occurrence, but white actors were still used to portray Asian characters, so my opinions are based on that incident. 

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