Disney’s live-action adaptation of “Mulan” starring Liu Yifei was preceeded by an animated version that struck a chord with Asian American viewers. | JASIN BOLAND / DISNEY / VIA AP




Disney’s new live-action “Mulan” is coming at a time when the entertainment world is still feeling tremors from the success of “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Parasite.” It was a very different landscape when the animated “Mulan” debuted in 1998: U.S. audiences were far less used to the presence of Asians onscreen, and many Asian American moviegoers felt less comfortable with depictions of themselves.

迪士尼最新真人版《花木蘭》上映之際,娛樂界還在為《瘋狂的亞洲富人》和《寄生蟲》的成功而激動不已。相比之下,1998年動畫電影《花木蘭》初次上映時,情況大相徑庭: 當時美國觀眾對出現在銀幕上的亞洲面孔非常不適應,甚至許多亞裔美國觀眾對他們自己的熒屏形象也不太適應。

In the 1990s, Asian representation in Hollywood was even more scarce than it is today. What’s more, by the time “Mulan” came out, Asian American activists were still reeling from the failure of “All-American Girl” (1994-95), the first sitcom to feature a Korean American family.


“Everything that had an Asian American face was dumped in the same bucket,” Yang says. “The problem with that is it meant we had a limited amount of stories.”


He was relieved that the movie, directed by Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook and starring Ming-Na Wen as the voice of the title character, was successful: It drew $304 million worldwide at the box office, ahead of “The Little Mermaid” with $184 million, according to Box Office Mojo.


Despite the animated movie’s success, “Mulan” had no immediate effect on representation in Hollywood; it didn’t open doors for its stars in the same way that “Crazy Rich Asians” would. Just a year after its release came the great “whiteout”: The 1999-2000 fall season lineup of 26 new TV shows with no actors of color in noteworthy roles, which led to protests.

盡管動畫電影取得了成功,但《花木蘭》在好萊塢的表現并沒有立即產生影響; 它沒有像《瘋狂的亞洲富人》那樣為明星們敞開大門。不過就在它上映一年后,出現了巨大的“白人出局”抗議??棺h源于1999至2000年秋季播出的26部新電視節目中,沒有一個有色人種擔任重要角色。

Today, Asian Americans remain underrepresented on the big screen: Out of Hollywood’s top 100 movies of 2018, only two lead roles went to Asian and Asian American actors (one male and one female), according to a study by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. The Census Bureau estimates that Asian Americans make up 5.4 percent of the U.S. population, but the number is probably higher because Asian Americans — the fastest-growing demographic — are the least likely to fill out the census.

如今,亞裔美國人在大銀幕上的代表仍然寥寥可數: 根據南加州大學傳播和新聞學院的一項研究,在2018年好萊塢的100部電影中,只有兩個主角是亞裔和亞裔美國演員(一男一女)。美國人口普查局估計亞裔美國人占美國人口的5.4%,這個數字可能更高,因為亞裔美國人是美國增長最快的人群,而他們非常有可能不填寫人口普查。

Experts agree that in the 1990s Asian performers were still proving to Hollywood that audiences would be comfortable seeing them in major roles. Despite favorable reviews for the 1993 adaptation of “The Joy Luck Club,” martial arts films like “Rumble in the Bronx” (1995) with Jackie Chan remained the most prominent vehicle for Asian stars.


Renee Tajima-Pena, a filmmaker and professor of Asian American studies at UCLA, says the decade was also an important time for Asian American filmmakers, who were starting to make features. (Before then, they had focused on documentaries to fight racism.) Among others, Justin Lin, who would make his mark with “Better Luck Tomorrow” (2003) and the “Fast and the Furious” franchise, got his start in 1997 with the indie “Shopping for Fangs.”

電影制作人、加州大學洛杉磯分校研究亞裔美國人的教授田島培尼亞說,這十年對開始制作故事片的亞裔美國電影人來說也是一個重要的時期。(在那之前,他們專注于拍攝反對種族主義的紀錄片。) 其中,以《明天運氣更好》(2003年)和《快生活和憤怒》的特許經營而聞名賈斯汀·林就是在1997年憑借獨立制片公司拍攝的《人海奇花》開始發家的。

Representation has also improved in terms of accurate portrayals of different cultures. Yang, the critic, notes that Hollywood had evolved to treat inclusion more holistically, hiring more people of color to write, produce and act in shows and movies about them.

亞洲元素電影在對不同文化的準確描繪方面,表現手法也有所改進。 評論家楊指出,好萊塢現在的包容性很強,他們會雇傭更多的有色人種去參與寫作、制作和表演與他們相關的東西。

That’s how we ended up with the 2018 adaptation of “Crazy Rich Asians” and TV shows like the recently concluded “Fresh Off the Boat” (which starred Yang’s son, Hudson). “Mulan” was just one of many successes that had to happen before representation got to where it is today, he says.


“Over the last 15 years we developed that pipeline and all those people were ready to spring,” Yang says.


The more significant effects of “Mulan” may have been social and psychological. Nancy Wang Yuen, a sociologist and author of the book “Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism,” says the movie had helped shift beauty standards: Its release was accompanied by a prolific amount of merchandise, including “Mulan” Barbie dolls, McDonald’s Happy Meal toys and Mattel figurines. Asian American girls who grew up with Barbies with blond hair and blue eyes now had versions that looked like them.

“木蘭”更重要的影響可能是社會和心理上的。 《拒絕不平等:好萊塢演員和種族主義》一書的作者、社會學家南?!ね踉f,《花木蘭》幫助改變了美麗的標準,因為它的發行伴隨“花木蘭”芭比娃娃、麥克唐納德的快樂餐玩具和美泰雕像等大量的商品。和金發碧眼的芭比娃娃一起長大的亞裔美國女孩們,現在有了與她們自己長相相似的芭比娃娃。

“Being able to say ‘Look at Mulan, she’s beautiful’ — for young Asian American girls, that was a big deal,” Yuen says.
Eleni Kapoulea, a graduate student of clinical psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who was 6 when “Mulan” came out, says her mother and grandparents of Cambodian descent took her to the movie eight times, and she even dressed up as Mulan for several Halloweens. As a mixed-race girl growing up in San Diego, she remembers her classmates mocking her Asian looks relentlessly on the playground.


“Mulan gave me the chance to show my pride a little bit even though the culture wasn’t necessarily directly connected to me,” she says.

她說:“盡管這種文化與我并沒有直接的關系,《花木蘭》還是給了我一個展示我的自豪感的機會?!?br />