What’s the message?

Mulan and Reality

As Political Correctness segued into Social Justice and on into Wokeness . . . our culture started lying to our children.

Oh, not all of it. But the media and entertainment? Schools from top to bottom?

Equal Rights somehow became a demand for Equal Results. And things like the dangerous conceit that small women could beat up big men. Or that sex is a matter of choice. 

I'm not sure where the recent trans craze came from. Well, I supporse it's been building since Christine Jorgensen went public, But it seems to have reached critical mass and exploded recently. 

And that's where Mulan comes in.

My kids both being of the male persuasion, and in their thirties, I hadn't encounter Mulan until my husband put it in the Netflix queue and it turned up in the mail box. Yeah, I heard a bit about Disney kissing the PRC's butt and declaring it didn't stink. But I'm looking at the movie with an eye toward its influence on girls.

What with my husband being a Kung-fu Chop-saki fan, I am aware of the quirks of what is basically a  Chinese Superhero Genre. And as such it's an excellent story, and possibly useful for today's girls.

When the Emperor calls for every family to send a man to the army . . . a physically active, agile, gung-ho girl pretends to be a boy so her crippled old father won't have to go. Smaller and weaker than the male recruits, she gets beaten up until she turns her Chi loose and wins the battle, saves the Empire, the Emperor and so forth.

It's actually quite a charming story, but the underlying theme--that she has to stop pretending be a boy to win--surprised me. "You can't win if you lie," says the evil witch. And Mulan admits to being a girl, before going out to kick ass.

So how is a girl, uncomfortable in her changing pre-teen body, going to interpret this? That she can go out and do all the fun boy-stuff, and still be a girl? Or will she see it as needing to stop lying and admit that she's "really" a boy? 

I don't know. I just wish all the adults in education and media would stop lying to the kids.

And I wish there was a way to write a message that couldn't be interpreted to be the opposite that the writer intended.

And a gung ho girl from my middle-grades-to-YA pen name:

24 thoughts on “What’s the message?

  1. Tom Knighton had a pretty good article on substack the other day related to this. Basically, when they went from fighting for equal rights/treatment to equal results/equity, they turned a bunch of people off to their cause. If they would quit lying about everything under the sun they’d get much farther in their fight to be treated fairly.

    1. I think they’ve gone beyond equal outcome . . . I think they’ve reach a deep dark place inside where they just want to hurt and destroy people, because they enjoy the feeling of that power.

      1. I always hear Lord Acton in situations like this: power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
        Give some people power and they … turn into evil versions of themselves and worst of all, they’re positive they’re on the side of all that is good and holy.

  2. The original cartoon was actually loosely based on a Chinese legend in which a Chinese woman went to war in place of her father and no one actually found out until her comrades in arms came looking for her years after the war expecting to find a male. And in the movie she is outed by accident and shunned when she is outed (and barely misses being killed because impersonating a male soldier is a capital offense). But of course since it’s Disney she comes back to save the day. The live action movie went woker of course because Disney (ignore the slave camps out of frame).

    1. Yeah, it is getting harder and harder to ignore those slave camps. At this point I don’t really care what Disney puts out. I can’t in good conscience watch any of it.

      1. This is another divide between the people who are paying attention and the elites in charge,and their henchmen. Unfortunately there’s a large number of people who don’t look outside MSM and are to a degree, willingly blind. Frightened by the little peeks they can’t avoid.

        1. That is certainly true. Some people still get all their news from CNN.

          But, according to CNN’s own figures, that number is shrinking every day. Their viewership has declined tremendously in the last ten years, and shows no signs of stopping. Couple more years and the only screens with CNN will be in empty airports.

          That can happen to Disney. I’m pretty sure it will happen to them if they stay on the Woke warpath and snuggling up to China. Is it still propaganda if nobody is watching?

          Willful blindness is certainly on display the last year or so too. It isn’t a good look, and we will all remember who was wearing it for a long time to come.

    2. Actually, it’s from an old Chinese ballad, that was a translation of a steppe ballad that wasn’t in Chinese, which was about fighting the people further out on the steppe. Mu Lan means “unicorn” or “stag” in that steppe language, where most men had an adult name that was the name of a cool animal. And she was fighting for her Khan.

      Just saying… because the Uyghurs probably look and talk more like the real Mulan than the Chinese cast does….

      1. Here’s one of Victor Mair’s informative articles about Mulan as a non-Sinitic story about non-Sinitic people. He’s got another article under the tag that translates the entire ballad, which has a very cute ending.

  3. “I just wish all the adults in education and media would stop lying to the kids.”

    Yeah, that would be nice. But I’m forced to point out here that these lying liars are getting everything they want right now just by lying. It costs them nothing that they value, and their opponents (that would be us) have to run around disproving the lies to a credulous and willing audience of not-very-bright consumers. None of whom will thank you for disproving the comforting lie of the week.

    I’m going to mention again this interview between Jordan Peterson and Yeonmi Park.

    At about 1:20:00 they start talking about Animal Farm. Ms. Park has been quite matter-of-fact about her time in Hell up to then. When she talks about reading Animal Farm (because it was thin, and she thought it would be easier to read) is the only time she cries in this interview. She cried because George Orwell reached down into the shit-pile of history and pulled out the ugly Truth. And by reading that she finally understood what North Korea was.

    Later on ~1:40:00 Ms. Park talks about her time at Columbia U and the frustration of dealing with the Wokies. What was interesting there is that having devoured the 17th and 18th Centuries’ best philosophers on her own, and having read Animal Farm on her own, she was completely disgusted with the “Colonialist Oppressor” narrative being sold by the SJW crowd. Her contempt is palpable.

    Because they’re LYING, and she knows it. She can see the lies.

    Therefore I conclude that running around disproving lies is not the best way to do this. Writing stories in which the characters find the truth by their own efforts, that would seem to be a better direction. You can have all the fun and adventure you want, you can blow stuff up from orbit if you want, but if you show the method for how to sort out the kernel of truth from the basket of lies, that’s where the difference gets made.

    The character Does The Right Thing, that’s good. But -why- did they do that? Wouldn’t it have been easier/cheaper/faster/smarter to lie, cheat or steal to reach the goal? Isn’t that what characters do in the books we all can’t stand? So some effort spent showing the consequences of doing the Wrong Thing because it’s easier might be valuable.

    So that’s why my characters choose the right thing every time. I made them smart enough to know what’s going to happen to them and everybody else if they take the short cut. George McIntyre is a super being. He can do pretty near anything. It would be easy for him to take over the governments of the world and -make- people do what he wants. But he doesn’t do that. Because he, unlike every socialist idiot in public life these days, knows that won’t work. It would be a disaster.

    Dave Freer is pretty good at this type of thing. That’s one of the big things that make his stories pop, IMHO. When his characters make a moral choice, it isn’t because they’re such Goody Two-Shoes people. It’s because they know what will happen if they make the immoral choice. Consequences are a thing. As day follows night, there will be consequences.

    1. It sounds like Freer is retreating to consequentialism. That suffers from two shortcomings. First, it provides no framework for defining whether the OUTCOME is good or bad. Second, it requires a level of knowing the past, present and likely futures that is often not available.

      A writer can easily handle these limitations, and a good writer can do so elegantly. Yet they still exist in the real world.

      What is a person, real or imaginary, supposed to do when they have no idea whatsoever of what the greater consequences of their actions will be?

      I’m not saying that consequences shouldn’t be weighed, simply that there’s more to it than that. From a storytelling perspective, it is a handy way of smuggling in the downsides of different actions based on historical examples, especially when such knowledge was likely to be neglected in the reader’s formal education.


      1. Yes, utility and consequences are not the ONLY reasons to do things, and sometimes doing the right thing is hopeless.


        As Margery Allingham explains in one of her mystery novels, the trouble with criminals is that most of them cannot reason from A to B to C. Some of them can reason from A to B, but they are outright baffled by the idea that actions have consequences beyond B, which is “thing I want.” They reason like babies.

        And that’s part of why they are criminals — because whether they are smart or dumb, they just don’t really that consequences happen. So understanding that A leads to B, and B leads to C, is a vital part of developing morality as well as being able to operate as an adult.

      2. Consequences are an immutable fact of human life. You can’t do one thing.

        Speaking in the context of lying, specifically, lying has consequences. If you go watch that video with Jordan Peterson and Yeonmi Park, you will see some of what those consequences are. It is ugly.

        Even when the end goal is benevolent, the -consequences- of lying are usually disaster. When you lie, you don’t get what you want.

        Science fiction and fantasy lately has a real problem with ends justifying means. It’s okay to lie cheat and steal from The Patriarchy, just as a random example. But no, it’s not, because the consequences of that behavior will not be what was intended.

        This is what Pam is talking about regarding the media lying to kids. What I’m saying is rather than try to refute every lie, write stories that show how the characters defeat lies. That’s what Dave Freer is good at.

  4. We lie visually too. That’s a lovely image you chose and my first thought was, why is that woman warrior wearing a bathing suit? Shouldn’t she be wearing body armor? Boy, oh boy, is her abdomen bare for gutting.

    I can’t stand seeing Wonder Woman wearing a bathing suit standing next to Superman, all covered up. Or every other male in the Justice League line up, all wearing body armor.

    I can’t stand this trope.

      1. Yeah, that too! I’d trip over that floor-sweeping cape within seconds.

          1. Must be the same servants who keep her sparkling clean and sweat-free.

          2. Must be from Comet Fall. Magic shield, and a bubble for the miscellaneous weaponry. But if Answer ever sees that outfit, she’ll never hear the end of it.

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