- Last year, Disney’s live-action film “Mulan” faced boycott calls after its lead actress, Lui Yifei, made comments supporting police who were violently cracking down on pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong.
- Those calls were reignited ahead of the film’s September 4 release date because of activists in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Thailand in a movement dubbed the Milk Tea Alliance.
- Thai activists are showing solidarity with Hong Kong and Taiwan as they fight their own freedom of speech movement against the nation’s strict lèse-majesté laws.
- Despite the controversy, it’s unclear just how much it will affect the film as accurate numbers are hard to obtain due to Disney’s distribution method.
The Milk Tea Alliance
Amid uncertain reviews and hidden streaming and VOD revenue numbers, Disney’s live-action reboot of “Mulan” faces on-going criticism by pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and now Thailand.
The calls to boycott the film ahead of its release on September 4 started last year when lead actress Liu Yifei voiced her support for police in Hong Kong. At the time, police in the city were accused of excessive force when dealing with pro-Hong Kong and democracy protesters; sentiments that haven’t calmed down in the intervening year.
Liu isn’t the only star from the film to face criticism over her comments. Donnie Yen, known for his martial-arts movies, also received backlash after posting in July, “[Today is] the celebration day for [Hong Kong] returning to motherland China 23-years-ago.”
The latest rounds of boycotts started to regain traction last month when Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow was arrested, leading supporters to call her the “real Mulan.”
However, if you go to Twitter, anti-Mulan activism is centered around the #milkteaalliance, a reference to the different varieties of popular milk tea in each area. For many, it’s understood why Hong Kong and Taiwan would want to boycott a film starring an actress with pro-mainland China sentiments, considering the two polities’ long-standing controversies and conflicts with the mainland.
Thailand seems like an outlier, but the nation recently had its own revival of pro-democracy and freedom-of-speech movements against its severe lèse-majesté laws that prohibit any negative speech about the monarchy or royal family.
Chayen Solidarity for Bubble and Silk
For supportors of the boycott, participation is a sign of solidarity. As Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal wrote on twitter, “I invite everyone to #BoycottMulan #BanMulan to let Disney and the Chinese government know that the state’s violence against people is unacceptable.”
Despite the social media presence, activists in Thailand have a big hill to climb. The institution of the monarchy there is extremely popular and highly revered by most Thai people, yet activists are buoyed by King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s waning personal popularity.
Before becoming king, he was seen as a party-goer and spent lavish trips abroad, often to the embarrassment of the royal family. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, King Maha Vajiralongkorn has been out of the public eye, which to many has seemed callous.
His latest actions are what has sparked calls for the ability to even criticize the king when he reinstated his Royal Consort (the first in 100 years) after she was deposed over accusations of conspiring against the queen.
Box Office Smash or Bust?
Even with the support of the so-called Milk Tea Alliance, it’s unclear if “Mulan” will actually see a reduction on expected revenue. That’s partly because Disney is largely releasing the film on its Disney+ streaming platform. Doing so makes its extremely difficult to figure out how much money a film actually made at the box office since Disney gets to control the revenue information. For Hollywood, this could signify a major shift in how a film’s release is evaluated.
However, beyond distribution, it’s unclear just how much effect the Milk Tea Alliance will actually have on “Mulan,” considering the film is bound to draw in large numbers from China. Additionally, despite the views of the film’s stars, many support the project for casting actors less-known to Western audiences. Jon Chu, director of “Crazy Rich Asians,” praised the film Thursday by writing, “I am so excited to see all the Asian excellence on display TODAY. What a win for the @Disney fairytale!!!”
Despite one movement on Twitter disparaging the film, Disney seems to have partnered up with the platform. When a user “likes” any post that features the “Mulan” hashtag, falling petals and the logo for the movie quickly appear and disappear, driving conversations that can push the film in front of potential viewers.
See what others are saying: (BBC) (The Guardian) (Fortune)
Britney Spears Sends Cease and Desist to Jamie Lynn Over Book Tour
Britney’s lawyer claimed that Jamie Lynn’s “ill-timed book” contains “misleading or outrageous claims” about the singer.
Britney Spears Slaps Sister With Cease and Desist
Britney Spears sent a cease and desist letter this week demanding her sister, Jamie Lynn, stop “referencing Britney derogatorily during” her book tour.
The two sisters have been embroiled in a heated war of words over the last week, largely prompted by Jamie Lynn’s new memoir, “Things I Should Have Said.” In the book and during its accompanying press tour, Jamie Lynn has discussed a variety of issues, including Britney’s controversial conservatorship, their father’s struggles with alcoholism, and what it was like to be raised in her older sister’s shadow.
“We write with some hesitation because the last thing Britney wants is to bring more attention to your ill-timed book and its misleading or outrageous claims about her,” Britney’s lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, wrote in the letter, which was obtained by Variety. “Although Britney has not read and does not intend to read your book, she and millions of her fans were shocked to see how you have exploited her for monetary gain. She will not tolerate it, nor should she.”
The Spears family has been the subject of international headlines over the last year as the legal battle to free the “Toxic” singer from her 13-year conservatorship took off. Britney has been vocal about the fact that she felt largely abandoned by her family while she was in the conservatorship, claiming they did nothing to help her. A Los Angeles judge officially terminated the arrangement in November, giving the pop star newfound control over her life.
“Having endured a 13-year conservatorship that stripped her of civil rights and fundamental liberties, Britney will no longer be bullied by her father or anyone else,” the letter continued. “Britney was the family’s breadwinner and she also otherwise supported you. Publicly airing false or fantastical grievances is wrong, especially when designed to sell books. It is also potentially unlawful and defamatory.”
Spears Sisters Duke it Out on Social Media
During the press tour, Jamie Lynn has conducted interviews aired on “Good Morning America,” “Nightline,” and the “Call Her Daddy” podcast with Alex Cooper. Britney has taken issue with several stories Jamie Lynn told, including one where she claims Britney locked them inside a room together with a knife because she was “scared.”
“I’ve never been around you ever with a knife or would I ever even think to do such,” Britney wrote in one Twitter post denying the story.
“Hope your book does well, Jamie Lynn !!!!” the singer wrote in another post. “My family ruined my dreams 100 billion percent and try to make me look like the crazy one.”
Jamie Lynn has defended her choice to write the memoir, arguing that she is “speaking my truth to heal my traumas.”
“I hate to burst my sister’s bubble, but my book is not about her,” she wrote. “I can’t help that I was born a Spears too, and that some of my experiences involve my sister.“
Rosengart mentioned this statement in the cease and desist letter.
“You recently reportedly stated that the book was ‘not about her.’ [Britney] takes you at your word and we, therefore, demand that you cease and desist from referencing Britney derogatorily during your promotional campaign,” he wrote. “If you fail to do so or defame her, Britney will be forced to consider and take all appropriate legal action.”
See what others are saying: (Variety) (USA Today) (Rolling Stone)
Streamers Stand Up For Pokimane Amid Controversy With Ninja and JiDion
Ninja and his family have threatened legal action against Pokimane, but many argue she is yet again the target of gender-based harassment.
What Happened Between Pokimane, Ninja, and JiDion?
Pokimane criticized fellow streamer Ninja on Monday for seemingly offering to help JiDion evade his recent Twitch ban, prompting a larger conversation about female harassment on the platform.
The controversy began last week when JiDion hate-raided one of Pokimane’s Twitch streams. JiDion was initially given a 14-day ban from the platform, but it was eventually extended to a permanent ban, which he vowed to fight against. He and his viewers attempted to enlist the help of Ninja in hopes he might be able to get in touch with Twitch.
At one point, Ninja said he would consider seeing if there was anything he could do, but warned that JiDion should not spam anyone or “ratio bitches” in the future. While Ninja soon clarified he did not mean Pokimane specifically, rather “bitches in general,” many lambasted the streamer’s choice of words as Pokimane is vocal about the vitriol female creators face.
“I wonder if Ninja would have said bitches if it was a large male streamer that was hate raided,” Pokimane said during a livestream. “But I digress.”
During a stream of his own, Ninja also said he texted his Twitch representative for assistance on behalf of JiDion.
“Why Ninja would help someone evade a ban for harassing me?” Pokimane said in response. “I have no idea. I genuinely don’t know.”
Jessica Blevins Threatens Legal Action
Pokimane has continued to call out Ninja for aiding a streamer who was facing consequences for harassing her. However, despite his comments during his own stream, Ninja now claims he never actually texted his representative to help JiDion.
“I swear on my grandfather’s life, who just passed away, that I didn’t text my twitch rep,” he said in the alleged direct message to Pokimane. “You are making a big mistake.”
Ninja’s wife, Jessica Blevins, likewise allegedly messaged Pokimane about the ordeal.
“We are considering everything defamation of character at this point and are getting our legal team involved,” Blevins wrote, according to the screenshot shared by Pokimane. “You are spewing lies to tens of thousands of people. You know Twitch, you claim you know his rep, then you know from them that Tyler NEVER reached out to anyone, and AGAIN, just said that to stop the harassment in his chat from jidion’s viewers. We have clarified everything to you. You are actively bringing harassment to Tyler and I right now at the highest level and we are taking this very seriously.”
Pokimane said she interpreted this to mean that Ninja merely pretended to text the representative.
“I’m willing to accept [that] and cannot disprove,” she tweeted. “I just wanted the clip out there to show what happened.”
JiDion has since apologized to Pokimane and asked for his followers to put the ordeal behind them. Other major streamers have also taken to Twitter to support Pokimane, citing the constant harassment female content creators are subjected to online.
Streamers Support Pokimane
“If Ninja’s upset about being harassed and ‘misrepresented’… imagine how Pokimane feels every single day being a woman on Twitch,” ConnorEatsPants wrote.
“Sad how Pokimane still has to deal with misogyny and harassment in 2022,” Mizkif added. “And It’s even more sad how I have to say this publicly because people are afraid to stand up and say she’s being treated poorly because they’ll be called a ‘simp.’”
Valkyrae wrote that she will “always” support Pokimane, while Annie Fuschia said the streamer has so “much strength” for sticking up for herself.
Anti-Vaxxers Spread Conspiracy Theory Claiming Bob Saget Died From COVID-19 Booster Shot
This comes less than a month after anti-vaxxers spread a similar false rumor about comedian Betty White.
Anti-Vaxxers Spread Unfounded Theory About Bob Saget’s Death
Anti-vax and right-wing conspiracy theorists are spreading unfounded claims that comedian Bob Saget died as a result of receiving his COVID-19 booster shot.
Saget, best known for his role as Danny Tanner on “Full House,” died this week at the age of 65 in Orlando, Florida. The Orange County Sheriff’s office said they were responding to “a call about an unresponsive man in a hotel room” and pronounced Saget dead on the scene at the Ritz-Carlton. They found “no signs of foul play or drug use” and some reports have since claimed that it appears Saget may have died in his sleep. No further cause of death has been released.
Not long after the news of his death, anti-vaxxers begin circulating baseless claims that a COVID-19 booster shot killed Saget. Saget said he received his booster shot on a Dec. 13 episode of his podcast. Many have shared a clip where he talks about the booster to suggest that was his cause of death.
COVID-19 vaccines and boosters have been proven to be both safe and effective. That, of course, has not stopped conspiracy theorists from endlessly touting false assertions about unproven side effects and responses.
Claims about Saget’s death being vaccine-related can be found on Twitter, Reddit, TikTok, Telegram, and other social media platforms. Many of the posts, despite containing clear misinformation, have remained on these sites for several days without being taken down.
Candace Owens Promotes Booster Theory
The conspiracy found a large platform this week when conservative news personality Candace Owens discussed it on her Daily Wire talk show. Owens has repeatedly spoken against COVID-19 vaccines and uses her platform to regularly share all kinds of political and cultural misinformation.
During the Jan. 11 episode of “Candace,” which was flagged by Media Matters, Owens said the public has a “right to demand answers” about the circumstances around Saget’s death and the booster.
“I’m just not on Big Pharma’s payroll and I refuse to peddle in their lies. And so to that end, today, I’m going to point out another truth and it will likely be deemed a conspiracy theory until it’s not,” she said. “There are too many healthy individuals, like Bob Saget, who we know have received their vaccinations, who are dropping dead, suddenly and unexpectedly, with no further explanation. Healthy athletes, young students in their physical prime — the majority of them males — dropping dead suddenly and unexpectedly in the middle of games from heart issues.”
Owens continued to peddle anti-vax rhetoric regarding the media and vaccine mandates. She also spewed unsubstantiated suggestions that “healthy men are dying” because of vaccines.
“All of this to say I don’t know why a healthy man, who was in the middle of a comedy tour, suddenly and unexpectedly drops dead in his hotel room,” she continued. “But I do know that we have a right to ask the question. All of us do. In fact, when the entire world has suddenly and unexpectedly been prescribed an injection that we don’t need, it is not only our right to ask questions but also our right to demand answers.”
Anti-Vax Misinformation Has Found A Large Platform
Not even a month before Saget’s death, anti-vaxxers likewise falsely claimed that comedian and actress Betty White died from receiving her COVID-19 booster. White passed at the age of 99, just weeks before her 100th birthday. According to her death certificate, she died from a stroke she had six days before her death on Dec. 31.
After people started falsely claiming the booster caused her death, White’s agent released a statement clarifying these rumors were not true.
“Betty died peacefully in her sleep at her home,” Jeff Witjas told People Magazine. “People are saying her death was related to getting a booster shot three days earlier but that is not true. She died of natural causes. Her death should not be politicized — that is not the life she lived.”
Media platforms have struggled to control the swelling amount of misinformation users constantly spread, specifically regarding the pandemic and vaccinations. While many sites have promised to remove, flag, or fact-check incorrect posts, anyone who wants to find anti-vax information will have an easy time doing so.
This week, a group of doctors and medical workers urged Spotify to lay out a misinformation policy, citing the false claims Joe Rogan has repeatedly made about vaccines on his podcast. Several international fact-checking organizations also recently demanded that YouTube do more to fight disinformation on its service. Over the last year, citizens and politicians have asked that Twitter, Facebook, and Google do more to slow the spread of pandemic-related misinformation.
“While we understand that your companies have implemented policies regarding the removal of vaccine-related misinformation and dedicated resources to stop the spread of misinformation, we believe more must be done,” a group of Democratic senators wrote in a letter to the three company’s CEOs. “It is imperative that you be transparent about the amount of harmful misinformation that appears on your platforms and the effectiveness of your efforts to remove this content, so that public health organizations and experts can respond appropriately.”