- 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)
Netflix Launches “Fast Laughs,” a TikTok-Like Feed of Funny Clips
- Netflix has created a TikTok-style feature it calls “Fast Laughs,” which is currently only available on its iOS mobile app in select countries.
- Executives described it as a “new full-screen feed of funny clips from a wide variety of Netflix titles, ranging from films and series to our deep bench of stand-up specials.”
- The clips can be shared on social media, and if users stumble across something they want to see more of, they can save that title to watch later or play it immediately.
Netflix Announces “Fast Laughs”
Netflix is now the latest platform to introduce its own TikTok-like feature.
On Thursday, the company announced “Fast Laughs,” which is currently only available on its iOS mobile app in select countries.
It essentially looks like TikTok, but Patrick Flemming, director of product innovation at Netflix, told The Verge it is a “new full-screen feed of funny clips from a wide variety of Netflix titles, ranging from films and series to our deep bench of stand-up specials.”
In its announcement blog post, Netflix said, “You access the feed through your bottom navigation menu by clicking on the Fast Laughs tab. Clips will start playing – when one ends another begins, to keep the laughs coming.“
If a user stumbles across a scene they want to see more of, they can save that title to watch later or play it immediately if they’d like. They can also share the clips individually on Whatsapp, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter.
Could It Really Rival TikTok?
Adding this TikTok-style feature may seem surprising since Netflix is a streaming service rather than a social media platform.
However, Netflix’s last few earnings reports have actually referenced TikTok as a major competitor. It’s not because they make the same style of content but instead because people are spending more time on TikTok – which for some means less time on Netflix.
While “Fast Laughs” might not compete with TikTok the way some other copycats hope to, some believe it’s an interesting way to highlight the huge library of content the site offers.
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Tech Crunch) (USA Today)
Court Sides With Sofia Vergara, Says Ex Cannot Use Embryos Without Permission
- A Los Angeles court sided with actress Sofia Vergara on Tuesday, ruling that her ex-fiance Nick Loeb cannot use their embryos without her consent.
- The court cited a document the former couple had signed agreeing that both parties needed to approve the use of the embryos, arguing that the document could not be void.
- In a response, Loeb appeared to plug his new movie, saying the judge was “clearly influenced by Hollywood, which is a pattern I expose in my upcoming film Roe v. Wade.”
- Loeb had been trying to obtain custody of the embryos for many years and even argued in a Louisiana court that they should be treated as humans with rights, though the case was dismissed.
Court Sides With Sofia Vergara
Los Angeles County Superior Court sided with actress Sofia Vergara Tuesday, ruling that her ex-fiance could not use their embryos without her permission.
Vergara has been involved in a court battle with her ex, Nick Loeb, for several years. The two split in 2014 and had reportedly undergone in vitro fertilization within a year before their break up.
Loeb had been fighting to use those embryos on his own via a surrogate. According to TMZ, he at one point tried to take custody of them through a trust and named the embryos in a lawsuit. He also argued in a Louisiana court that the embryos should be recognized as humans with rights. The court dismissed that case in January and said Loeb was “forum shopping” for a court that might agree with his argument. At the time, his team said he would appeal their decision.
People Magazine obtained court documents from the Los Angeles court’s ruling, which granted Vergara’s request for a permanent injunction preventing Loeb from using the embryos “to create a child without the explicit written permission of the other person.”
Loeb Responds to Ruling
The court cited a document the former couple both signed at a fertility clinic, agreeing that both parties had to approve of any use of the embryos. Loeb tried to argue that he signed it under “duress” but the court still said that their agreement was not voidable based on that defense.
Loeb also tried to argue that he and the Modern Family actress had an “oral agreement” that would allow him to use the embryos on his own terms, but court said there was no “material fact” to support this.
According to People, Loeb issued a statement that plugged his new movie after the ruling. He said the judge “was clearly influenced by Hollywood, which is a pattern I expose in my upcoming film Roe v. Wade.”
“It’s sad that Sofia, a devout Catholic, would intentionally create babies just to kill them,” he continued.
Vergara’s team has not yet issued a statement on the case.
See what others are saying: (TMZ) (People) (Entertainment Tonight)
Chris D’Elia Accused of Soliciting Child Pornography in New Lawsuit
- Comedian Chris D’Elia was sued in California on Tuesday for sexual exploitation and soliciting nude photos from a minor.
- The lawsuit alleges that D’Elia “constructed a manipulative, controlling, and abusive dynamic” in order to get dozens of nude photos from a girl he knew was 17 at the time.
- It also says he invited the minor to his hotel room before one of his shows, where she performed sexual acts at his request.
- D’Elia’s spokesperson denied the accusations, which come just two weeks after D’Elia addressed months-old claims that he had sexually harassed underage women. He claimed sex “controlled” his life and admitted to having “a problem” but maintained all his relationships had been consensual and legal.
Chris D’Elia Accused of Soliciting Child Pornography
A federal lawsuit filed in the Central District of California on Tuesday accuses comedian Chris D’Elia of sexual exploitation and soliciting nude photos from a minor.
The allegations stem from 2014 when Jane Doe, now 24, was just 17-years-old. The lawsuit says D’Elia, who would have been 34 at the time, “constructed a manipulative, controlling, and abusive dynamic” in order to solicit the photos and pressure Doe into sexual encounters.
According to Doe, their interactions began in September of that year when she contacted him on Instagram, thinking he would never reply. D’Elia, however, allegedly responded to her message right away and asked her to come to one of his shows. When she agreed to see him perform at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, she says they exchanged information on Snapchat.
Once the two started communicating on Snapchat, the lawsuit claims that the messages D’Elia sent “became sexual very quickly.” He allegedly started to ask for nude photos of her, and if she did not reply, he would persist. While she tried to avoid sending the photos, the lawsuit claims he was “aggressive.” She eventually sent him 5-10 explicit photos before she met him.
According to the lawsuit, when D’Elia came to perform in Connecticut in November, he invited Doe to his room before the show. Because she was nervous about the situation, Doe brought a friend with her, but D’Elia allegedly demanded that the friend leave or else he would not let Doe inside.
Doe’s friend left and the lawsuit claims that D’Elia then began to request sexual favors from Doe within minutes of her arrival. It alleges that the two had sex while D’Elia knew her age. It even adds that during the acts, he repeatedly asked her to tell him she was 17 and still in high school, with him allegedly saying that this was “hot.”
Doe says that he invited her back to his hotel after the show and they had sex again. After this, she says she left feeling “disgusting and defeated.” The lawsuit says this was her first sexual encounter of any kind and she had not even kissed anyone prior to meeting him, leaving her unsure what to think or do in the situation.
Over the following months, the lawsuit claims that D’Elia would limit his communication with Doe as a tactic to pry more photos out of her. It says he would demand she send explicit photos or he would unfollow her on social media until she compiled. The lawsuit says that over the course of six to seven months, she sent him over 100 explicit photos and videos, roughly half of which were taken while she was a minor.
The lawsuit says Doe “suffered significant emotional, physical, and psychological harm as a direct result of Defendant D’Elia’s predatory conduct.”
D’Elia Says He “Has A Problem”
These allegations come nearly nine months after several women accused him of sexual harassment and predatory behavior. Many said they were underage at the time he harassed them.
After months of silence, D’Elia recently addressed those allegations in a 10-minute video on February 19. He apologized and said he had been seeking help.
“I mean sex, it controlled my life,” he said. “It was the focus, my focus, all the time. And I had a problem. I do have a problem.”
However, he denied ever breaking the law in his sexual encounters.
“I stand by the fact that all my relationships have been consensual and legal,” he said.
A spokesperson for the comedian told the Los Angeles Times that the accusations in the lawsuit are false.
“Chris denies these allegations and will vigorously defend against them in court,” they said.
Jane Doe is seeking unspecified damages.