Only a little over a month ago the Chinese-American actress was heralded as a feminist symbol for her lead role in Disney’s upcoming live-action remake of Mulan, an animated 1998 film, but now the starlet has provoked an instant change of heart from much of her fanbase, over a recent post online stating “I support Hong Kong’s police, you can beat me up now.”
A native of China, Liu might be in a better position to comment on the situation than her western fans, especially given the complex nature of the Hong Kong-mainland dispute – perhaps more complicated than the plot of the average Hollywood film. Though images of police violence have surfaced in the media, excesses by protesters have also been documented, including attacks on bystanders they deemed suspicious, as has the random destruction of property.
Liu’s post soon drew calls for movie-goers to boycott the Mulan remake, set for release next March, even sending the hashtag #BoycottDisney trending for a time.
“Do not watch the live action Mulan movie,” one person wrote in a now deleted tweet. “Lead actress Liu Yifei/Crystal Liu supports the police brutality currently being seen in Hong Kong. She spits in the face of democracy, freedom, and human rights.”
Another user insisted Liu had “lent her support to the oppressive #Chinese regime in suppressing freedoms; the very same she enjoys & benefits from overseas that #Hongkongers fight for at home.”
“Time to #BoycottMulan,” he added.
The titular main character in Disney’s Mulan – a female warrior who disguises herself as a man in order to take her father’s place in battle – became a symbol of women’s empowerment after the animated film’s debut in 1998; however, in 2019, the female warrior may find herself powerless in fending off an increasingly potent “cancel culture” taking root online, largely driven by “progressive” political values.