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Latest ‘Mulan’ 1998: A Moment of Joy and Anxiety for Asian-American Viewers

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Disney’s new live-action “Mulan” is coming at a time when the entertainment world is still feeling tremors from the success of “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Parasite.” It was a very different landscape when the animated “Mulan” debuted in 1998: American audiences were far less used to the presence of Asians onscreen and many Asian-American moviegoers felt less comfortable with depictions of themselves.

In the 1990s, Asian representation in Hollywood was even more scarce than it is today.

What’s more, by the time “Mulan” came out, Asian-American activists were still reeling from the failure of “All-American Girl” (1994-95), the first sitcom to feature a Korean-American family.

Some Asian-Americans had been buzzing over the show, which starred the comedian Margaret Cho — there were even viewing parties for the premiere.

But it was a spectacular disappointment, blending stereotypes about multiple Asian cultures, recalled Jeff Yang, one of the TV critics whose reviews contributed to its quick demise.

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