The animated 1998 film Mulan remains one of Disney's all time greatest hits. Fans greeted Disney’s announcement of a live-action reboot starring an all Asian cast with great excitement. But COVID-19 forced the film from the big screen to Disney streaming, and the film’s recent debut sparked controversy both here and in China.

At a time when Asian Americans are being attacked publicly — and being erroneously blamed for the coronavirus — 2020 has been fertile ground for significant growth in Asian themed feature films and TV programs, with independent films helmed by Asian directors and Asian actors in lead roles. What is the power of this expansion of representation? And does it especially matter in this moment?


Elena Creef, professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Wellesley College. She specializes in Asian American visual history in photography, film and popular culture.

Jenny Korn, fellow and the founding coordinator of the Race and Media Working Group at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.