Feminism doesn’t sell because, like all attempts to change the world, it doesn’t pander to peoples’ preconceptions. (Telling people they are wrong about something tends to make them angry on some level – all the more so if it’s something they haven’t taken the time to examine, and thus cannot easily defend. This does not usually improve sales.) So what does Disney do to make a feminist story sell? It guts out the feminism.
Lightspeedsound reaches essentially the same conclusions, but does so via a mountain of evidence rather than reduction. Personally, I would have liked to see a little more about Orientalism and its implications a la Edward Said – the idea that the reimagining of “Orientals” (and shoehorning of Asian women like Mulan into stereotypes) serves a specific purpose.
For example, the paper asserts that Disney’s Mulan “manages to confirm both the stereotypes of exotified Asian women: Mulan, the blushing lotus blossom, and the matchmaker, the domineering dragon lady.” I think it would be most interesting to get into why these stereotypes persist, and specifically how they are damaging to feminism, and, if we accept Said’s assessment, what benefit is derived from Westerners “buying in” to these stereotypes. Ego stroking in the face of the supposed Asian economic threat? Assuaging any left-over guilt from Vietnam? Downplaying the need to treat Asians as human beings?
This is not a criticism of Lightspeedsound as a writer – this was a paper for a class, and it was doubtless bound by artificial constraints. I just really want to see an examination of root causes. At any rate, there is plenty of interesting stuff in there.