In the current world climate there has been a lot of, what has come to be known as, “Cancel Culture.” “Cancel Culture,” is the idea that if one part of something good is bad, then the whole thing is bad. I don’t agree or disagree with the idea of “Cancel Culture” yet, I am still trying to make up my mind and figure out where I stand. What I think is interesting is how people are now also flipping it and saying if one part of something is good, then the whole thing is good. That, I don’t agree with. On July 3, 2020 Disney+ released Hamilton, on September 4, 2020 Disney+ released Mulan. I’m going to use these two films to talk about “Cancel Culture” and its opposite, which I don’t believe has a name yet but may soon if the ideology contineus.
When Hamilton was released on Disney+ this summer it generated a lot of discussion on social media. Of course there were those who were excited to see it, myself being one of them, but there were also those who felt it shouldn’t have been released and it is too problematic. Hamilton was released on the streaming service right in the height of this summer’s Black Lives Matter protests after the murder of George Floyd. On Facebook I saw many personal posts and article shares about how, “Alexander Hamilton owned slaves, how could this be a good musical?” Or, “Why doesn’t Hamilton address slavery at all?” Both of these, and many others were followed up with a call to action to removed Hamilton from the Disney streaming service.
Let’s now jump two months to September 4, 2020 and the release of Mulan on Disney+ “Premium.” Disney+ Premium is a new addition to the service in which they are charging $30 for people who are interested in buying Mulan before it is available to non-premium subscribers in December. Before watching the film myself I saw a thread of tweets that suggested, “Mulan is the biggest film directed by a woman ever. Ever. Bigger than Wonder Woman. It has an international cast and it tells an Asian, female-centric story. Supporting this film is a no-brainer. If this film flops, the spoken reason will be the pandemic. The subtext will be that women can’t make successful tentpole films. Women filmmakers will feel the ripples of that for years.” This feels a lot to me like the exact opposite of “cancel culture.” Just because Mulan was directed by a woman, is female-centric, and not white-centric it’s automatically a great movie? That’s what that sounds like to me.
I love Hamilton. There is no doubt that Alexander Hamilton and the rest of the founding fathers were flawed, but no one is contesting that. The musical itself is about how flawed they were, and contrary to popular belief the musical references the evils of slavery many times. Would you like to know what I don’t like? Mulan. It was subpar at best. Moments that were supposed to be high energy felt very anti-climactic to me. There were many moments that were laughable because they weren’t even remotely believable. My dislike of the film has nothing to do with the fact that there was no Mushu or there weren’t fun upbeat songs, you can make a great film without those, but Mulan is not a great film. My point is, “Cancel Culture” and whatever you want to call its opposite, “Flawlessness Culture” maybe, are flawed ideologies in and of themselves. Very little in the world is going to make everyone happy and is going to be “perfect.” So let’s look at films and theatre productions as a whole, not tiny individual pieces that “should” make or break the whole.