September 12th, 2021



Listening to that podcasty thing yesterday had us in the mood to watch Mulan (the fully animated version, of course) today. So we did, and wow, I do not remember the last time we watched it before now. I feel like I have a lot to say about it, but also like I'm not sure I can form coherent thoughts, but that inability to form coherent thoughts seems to be a bit of a constant, at least when it comes to typing things on the internet.

The thing is. In the podcasty thing yesterday, the very director of the movie talked about how it was finally a strong female lead like Disney had never done before. And maybe I just missed the nuance, and he meant she was a strong female lead of a type that had never been done before, but me and my over-sensitivity to that kind of talk had me interpreting it as, "Boy, it was a good thing Disney finally made a strong female lead." And that had me irked.

Nevertheless, we watched the movie again, and I still loved it! I like to think that means my dislike of movies like Frozen and Moana is not purely because I read comments from people involved in production that made me angry before I saw either of those films.

The thing about Mulan is she is definitely the first female Disney lead to be a literal fighter. Based on people's perceptions of the characters in Edens Zero ("Homura is such a strong character!"), I feel like there's a strange idea floating around that "strong" means "able to beat people up." It's true, that's one definition of strong. But there are all kinds of strengths, and you can see many of them in all the Disney heroines from Minnie Mouse on.

And the great thing about Mulan is that her ability to beat people up is actually far from her greatest strength (although it is quite helpful in the context of the movie), which I think is important because beating people up is typically considered to be a masculine activity--one of the activities that makes masculinity toxic, if you ask us. So we're always super frustrated when we see, "Yes! Finally a girl who can kick some butt!" because to us it reads as, "Finally a girl who can act like a man!" And as a girl who isn't particularly interested in acting like a man, I don't see that as a positive. (Incidentally, I do love Homura in Edens Zero, because I think she's adorable.)

But here we have Mulan, and of course she has to be a fighter because she's going off to war. But she's also smart and creative, and that turns out to be her biggest asset. What I really like about the movie is that, the way I see it, she tries to be very feminine in the beginning, and that doesn't work. So she tries to be very masculine for most of the movie, and that turns out to not work so well either. Finally, in the end, she's not trying to be one or the other--she's just herself, and that's what saves the day. So learn to be yourself.

Today I'm thankful for getting to watch Mulan, also getting to read some manga, the yummy Snickers we had for a snack, our sister liking the e-card we sent her for her birthday, and Disney movies from the good old days.
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