Wednesday, April 5, 2017

It is not unfamiliar for there to be a deeper lesson embedded in the plot of children’s films. Disney is especially notorious for their life lesson inspiration for films, but are they always sending the right message? There are many instances where a film may contain some sort of scene or line that alienates one kind of person or thing such as implying that a woman is good for cleaning or a man is great because he is strong, but this is not the case. Mulan, a film created by Disney, features a young girl who bravely takes her father’s place in war and ultimately becomes the reason for the fall of the Huns. It all sounds wonderfully inspiring, but the question is: does Mulan do a good job at portraying a positive message to the audience, or do the skimmed over negatives have a greater impact on the audience (children)?
“Scare tactics can also be used to stampede legitimate fears into panic or prejudice.” (Lunsford 72). The same can be said for the draft in China for the war against the Huns. To be selected for war was an honor. It meant you were a strong and brave man and during that time,
nothing overpowered the importance of honor. Similarly, a woman was expected to be beautiful and to go to school and learn to be proper so that their matchmaker could find them a husband, and Mulan was no exception to this standard. I believe that, while not a direct threat, losing one’s honor in the Chinese culture could have detrimental effects to the name of the family, so it was not something to be taken lightly (therefore making divergence a scare tactic).

There is nothing more empowering to young women than seeing a girl take on a challenge and perform exceedingly well. The pure fact the Mulan was the main reason that China defeated the Huns sends the world a message that your gender does not define you. You can be as great as any other man. Mulan goes against the grain as she begins her journey through training and war. In one of the final scenes, she uses her womanly nature to distract the Huns and take them down. It is in this scene, where she is battling the leader of the Huns in a dress with her hair down, that girls can become inspired. Here is this woman sliding across the courtyard with a warrior on pursuit. She battles him in an epic scene on the rooftop before defeating him and ultimately getting honored by the emperor in front of millions of people. 
Although this seems utterly perfect, there arises a bit of sour as we come to realize that there really isn’t an in-between stage between being honored and being dishonoredHad Mulan not defeated the Huns, she would not have been honored by the emperor and her family name would have sunk to the bottom. What is this telling girls? If you cannot be the greatest, then don’t try to be anything more than you were meant to be. It won’t work out. The scene where she is singing and cutting her hair with the knife along with bandaging her breasts so they are not visible to become more of a male figure sets the tone that to be great you must at least act like a man, or you will never get anywhere. Only when you succeed can you be yourself.
It seems to me that the positive message in this film far outweighs the negative. It seems that Mulan was able to find her strength and bravery and bring awareness to the capabilities of women to a greater extent than the attention placed on the fact that she had to be much greater than man. In some ways, that is how the feminist movement begun; a woman outshining men. In the end of this analysis, I believe that the positive messages in this film were much more powerful and effective than the negative.  As Disney said, “It might be hard at first, but we promise it will work out in the end.”

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