A Portrait Of A Rebellious, Independent Mulan

1744 WordsApr 22, 20177 Pages
To construct a portrait of a rebellious, independent Mulan, two characteristics that are preferred by Western audiences, Disney chooses to keep only a few of the functions from the source tale. In order to set the stage for her climatic moment of redemption, Mulan must have a villain to struggle against. She is not just in a war, but is locked in a battle with the leader of the opposing army, Shan-Yu, almost singlehandedly saving the emperor. She defeats not only Shan-Yu but the gender restrictions of China that kept her hidden as a male in the army. Outwardly, Disney presents China’s ideology, including what is required of a woman as gender performance, as a given fact, creating a specific narrative gaze that influences how the global…show more content…
As she states in the song, Reflection, “I will never pass for a perfect bride or a perfect daughter” (Rita Hsiao). Yet, it is that exact motive, her desire to be a dutiful daughter, in the ballad that sends her off to war, because “Father has no grown-up son” (The Ballad of Mulan). The source material of the ballad is highly unfamiliar to American audiences, in particular, but to the global audience as well. This gave Disney the opportunity to reconstruct the essence of the tale to speak more about Mulan 's individualism and struggle against a repressive culture in which she cannot show her face. Mulan: Rise of a Warrior presents a very different characterization of Mulan, a much more mature vision of the female warrior. She witnesses the death of her comrades in battle, and the struggle of falling in love with another soldier whom she knows at any moment might fall on the battlefield. I argue that the lack of positive reception towards Disney 's Mulan is a lack of semantic fit. Mary Yoko Brannen creates this term in her article, “When Mickey Loses Face: Recontextualization, Semantic Fit, and the Semiotics of Foreignnes.” She defines semantic fit as taking place on the discursive level of semiotics, when the signifier, the word or image, is abstracted from its original context and so its meaning has been lost (602). She argues that

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