Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Latest on DVD: Mulan Ruse

What with all the nonsensical hoopla over Southern Baptist boycotts and so-called "subliminal imagery" in their cartoon empire, it is compelling to note that Disney's most subversive animated feature, Mulan, slipped past with nary a scandal.

Set in ancient China, Mulan is a tomboy who doesn't go for all that girly stuff she is supposed to, like marriage (at one point she even claims, "I never want to see a naked man again"). The first chance she gets, she chops off her hair, dresses up like a man and joins the Imperial Army (don't ask, don't tell); or, as her dragon sidekick Mushu puts it, "Miss Man decides to take her little drag show on the road".

While training how to "be a man", Mulan struggles to hide her femininity while in her male disguise, "Ping", but the stern and studly -- and frequently shirtless -- Captain Shang (voiced by B.D. Wong) always has his eye on "him". Watch closely, and you'll clearly see that Shang starts falling for Mulan when she is "Ping"; how very Victor/Victoria.

And that's not even mentioning the film's other cross-dressing moment, when Mulan's army buddies don geisha gear for the final battle; one is even voiced by Harvey Fierstein (who, as we all know, knows his drag). Plus, George Takei chimes in as well. With a cast like that and its frequent blurring of gender lines, Mulan is clearly Disney's queerest toon yet.

For more on Mulan, read my Toon Talk reviews of the Mulan: Special Edition DVD and its direct-to-video sequel Mulan II at LaughingPlace.com. Both films are available today as a DVD box set.

Check out the Latest on DVD widgets located in the sidebar for more of this week's new DVD releases available today from Amazon.com.

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