Donald Trump's running mate has a problem with the gender roles in Disney's Mulan because he thinks the film is liberal propaganda.
For those of you unaware of this classic, Mulan (1998) is an animated film based on the sixth century 'Ballad of Mulan'.
In the film, set during the Han Dynasty in China, Mulan is the daughter of a retired soldier. When the Hun invade and her ailing father is called upon to serve in the military, Mulan goes in his place disguised as a man 'Ping'. Along the way she is helped by a small dragon (voiced by Eddie Murphy) who acts on behalf of her ancestors as a protector. Mulan proves herself and saves the day.
For governor Mike Pence of Indiana, this is too much to believe. BuzzFeed News uncovered an op-ed piece written by Pence in 1999. The article is from before he was governor and a host on talk-radio. In the piece, Pence explains how he struggled to believe that a woman such as Mulan could excel in the army of Han China.
Picture: Drew Angerer/Getty
Despite her delicate features and voice, Disney expects us to believe that Mulan’s ingenuity and courage were enough to carry her to military success on an equal basis with her cloddish cohorts.
As such, he concludes this is liberal propaganda aimed at ending gender segregation in the United States military.
In the op-ed, Pence argued that it was an attempt to instill in younger generations (of women) a 'childhood expectation' that they might one day serve in the military. Pence wrote:
I suspect that some mischievous liberal at Disney assumes that Mulan’s story will cause a quiet change in the next generation’s attitude about women in combat and they just might be right.
Pence calls Mulan 'liberal propaganda', as if the preceding fifty years of Walt Disney's take on fairy tales weren't perpetuating Victorian conservative morality in which a helpless Princess without agency is rescued by a handsome cardboard Prince.
On the subject of Princes, another aspect of the film is Mulan's relationship with her superior officer Li Shang (the stacked/authoritarian sexual awakening for many of us).
Initially at odds, as the film progresses the characters develop a romantic relationship. Pence argues that it's a mistake by the Disney 'liberals', something they missed:
It is instructive that even in the Disney film, young Ms. Mulan falls in love with her superior officer! Me thinks the politically correct Disney types completely missed the irony of this part of the story.
Me thinks you're being inconsistent, Governor. Apparently it's a liberal plot when you disagree, and when you agree it's a liberal oversight.
Pence used Mulan and Shang's relationship as a case against integration:
Put them [men and women] together, in close quarters, for long periods of time, and things will get interesting. Just like they eventually did for young Mulan. Moral of story: women in military, bad idea.
It's a shame Pence has gone on the record criticising this classic. For one thing, 'I'll Make a Man out of You' would be an epic campaign song.