Disney’s live-action version of Mulan is in the works and...because we all know how these things go down...there’s already a preemptive petition to prevent a white actress from being cast in the lead role.
This petition, which currently has over 20,000 signatures, demands that Disney’s producers cast an Asian actor as Mulan instead of whitewashing the movie, as is Hollywood’s tradition.
Dear Disney, may I suggest our very own Jia Tolentino? Oh wait, sor-ry. You’d probably prefer White Jia. The petition states (bold emphasis, theirs):
Whitewashing, the practice of casting white Caucasian actors and actresses in roles originally meant to be characters of color, is all too common in Hollywood. The Last Airbender, Pan, the upcoming Ghost in the Shell adaptation, and many, many others have demonstrated this problem. Some whitewashed only the main cast members, leaving them inexplicably the only Caucasians among populations (including supposed blood relatives), while others hired white extras as well except possibly a token POC.
It goes on to explain the clear importance of hiring an Asian actress for the role:
Mulan was based on a Chinese legend, the story of Fa Mu Lan, in which a young girl disguises herself as a man to serve as a soldier in the battle against Gengis Khan. The character, story, and fans deserve the best retelling of the story Disney can produce...
Casting a Caucasian actor as a character of color, regardless of reason (“Oh, we just want a big name attached to this movie”, “Western audiences won’t watch a movie about Asian people”, etc) has a direct, harmful impact on not only the movie itself, but the audience, as well as POC members of the acting community...
For the audience, whitewashing implies that POCs cannot be heroes (although they may at times be villains or supporting characters), leaving it far more difficult for countless children around the world to see themselves in the stories they love and think that they, too, can make a difference.
Something tells me that Hollywood could care less what we think. Exodus still happened (and failed) despite all the negative controversy. So this might be inevitable! In that case, who would make the worst white Mulan?
Images via Disney, Getty