While Disney’s live-action remake of Mulan battles its own controversies, an artist involved in the 1998 animated original has spoken of the cultural insensitivities he noticed on that project.
Dan Haskett, an animator and designer with half a century’s experience, worked on many of the popular films from Disney’s 1990s “renaissance,” as well as series ranging from The Simpsons and Batman: The Animated Series to the recent Looney Tunes revival at Warner Bros. He is often called in to contribute to the early stages of animation projects, among them Mulan.
In a Youtube interview with Deborah Anderson, a.k.a. BlkWmnAnimator, Haskett recalls an exchange with one of the film’s directors: “In speaking of Chinese people, [the director] was saying, ‘You know, they’re not like us.’” Later, the film’s key character designer told Haskett that he’d become “the de facto expert on all things Chinese for the rest of the staff.” Haskett says, “I understood completely how he felt; it was not a joyful experience.”