This is a movie that I decided to rewatch to see how people were portrayed.
At first, it was just a "I want to rewatch to see if they're right that it is one of the rare movies for young girls that actually stars a strong woman" thing. I rented it with the intention of showing it at one of my movie classes for the girls, assuming it matched up to the feminist requirements.
And then I saw "Mickey Mouse Monopoly". I realized I couldn't just watch it to see how it talks about women, but also had to see what it was saying about the Chinese. So I watched it with these double lenses on.
I think that it does mostly work from the feminist angle. Mulan knows that the girl she's expected to be isn't really her, and never really strays from being herself. (With the exception of trying to act like a guy.)
However, I realized that while it may be a Chinese tale, the movie isn't really about them at all. It's a setting and sets what the characters should look like, but that seems to be the limits. Someone had pointed out when we watched "MMM" about how all the voices in the Disney movies sound "White", and the same is true for "Mulan". Several of the older men seem to have an accent, but no one else does.
(The woman in the video also said that it only worked to make "Mulan" in an extremely sexist culture. She made it sound as though Disney made Ancient China much more sexist than it really was, but since I'm not a Chinese history expert, I don't know.)
I also decided to be bothered by the presence of the dragon Mushu. At least a little. I know his purpose is there as comic relief. But it seems to feed into the concept of dragons in China. While I'm sure they frequently appeared on things, I just don't know if I want to have that as the lasting image of what things are from China.
So..."Mulan" works....when presented as being set in a place that doesn't exist. Then it can be the simple, and important, tale about a girl who wins against all odds.
But I just don't know if I'm comfortable with that.