Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Emancipation of Mulan!

First of all, I am aware that Mulan is a Disney character (so props to Disney, no stealing of artistic stuff goin' on here!). I am also aware that the movie is loosely based on an ancient Chinese poem about a girl who saves China. And finally, I am abundantly aware that I am NOT Chinese. Having said all that, I have also had the unpleasant experience of knowing that MOST people do not distinguish between the various Asian cultures in the Asia-Pacific region of the world. Sometimes I correct that ignorance, other times I use it to my advantage. Yes, I am evil, and I revel in it.

This is a story I have told quite a few times. You see, I work in a world where call-signs, or nicknames, are the norm. In my career field, we rarely indulge in call-signs. Quite frankly, it's a pilot thing, and I am NOT a pilot. I am, however, an "operator". For the lay-person, an operator is someone who is considered part of the "pointy end" of the proverbial military spear if, and when, the US military is called upon to "bring the pain" to an adversary. I used to be at the console of a very large, pointy, nuclear-tipped spear. So when I say "bring the pain", I mean obliterate everything......for miles......you get the idea.

In my line of work, we would get a call-sign on the rare occasions when someone went to a specialized training course that bestowed call-signs. The other way is to do something so spectacular, you just HAD to have a call-sign as a result. My call-sign falls under the heading of "spectacular".....

To set the stage, my husband, Al, and I were invited to a wedding for two of our friends. They decided to have it at Disney World, and they invited many military folks with whom they worked. What could possibly go wrong? Well, to give you an idea, we were all stationed at a relatively isolated, northern tier base. We didn't get out of the state much, and we were going stir-crazy. These are the people the happy couple decided to unleash on Disney World. So, what happened over the course of that week is entirely their fault :)

Anyone who knows me is fully aware that I am quite vocally proud of being Asian, more particularly Korean. I also identify with strong female leads in movies, especially if they are of Asian descent, can't be too picky about what country they hail from since there aren't that many to begin with. So when Disney released Mulan, AND she whipped ass, well.....game on! I now have a favorite Disney heroine. Notice, I said heroine, not princess. This detail will become VERY important later. While she is supremely badass, she is not a princess. A fact that did not bother me at the time of the movie's release, until Disney MADE it an issue.

Al and I decided to take a vacation in conjunction with the wedding, so we arrived a week prior, and scored discount tickets since we were part of the wedding party. Yay!! We chose one of those days to take a break from the park madness and head over to Downtown Disney. The area didn't require tickets, and is pretty much packed with stores where you can buy anything Disney.....or so I thought. One store in particular caught my attention, the Disney Princess Store. Okay, I pretty much loathe anything pink or princess-y, but I saw Belle in the window, along with other princesses, and decided that this would be the perfect place to get anything Mulan. Now why would the fact that Belle was in the window lead me to believe that I would find Mulan stuff? I have already indicated that Mulan is not a princess, in the strict sense of the word. This is when the fun began, or horror depending on your point of view.

I walked into the store, and did a quick survey. Aisles of Disney princesses stared back at me. An aisle devoted to each princess, and a couple of questionable ones.......wait, where's Mulan? Hmmmm, now I begin to scour the aisles, surely she must be here, she was the only heroine who went and saved a country and that should AT LEAST merit some shelf space, right? As I make my way to the counter, I have only located a Mulan Barbie doll, a porcelain Mulan statue, and a Mulan pin.....that's it. This check-out girl (and my husband) had no idea what was about to go down, but I chose this time to right a racial injustice.  Let the emancipation of Mulan begin!

CHECKOUT GIRL:  Welcome to the Disney Princess Store, may I help you? (pleasant smile, rosy cheeks, sparkle in her eye.....oblivious of the shit storm that was about to start)

ME:  Yes, I was looking for Mulan stuff and I didn't see anything on the shelves. Do you have her stuff in the back?

CG:  We have a doll, and a statue, and this cute little pin (sparkly smile)

ME:  Yes, I saw those, I meant do you have anything else in the store. (anger beginning, Al looking out the window and has no idea what's going on in the store)

CG:  Oh, well, this is the Disney Princess Store....and, well, she's not a princess.

ME:  (beginning to seethe) Really? Well, you have an entire aisle of Belle's shit and SHE is NOT a PRINCESS! (Al's head whips around.....WTF?!)

CG:  (clearly beginning to get agitated) But she's a princess.....(in low whimpery tone)

ME:  Oh no she's NOT......she was NOT married at the end of that movie. As far as I'm concerned she was shackin' up with the Beast! (Al's mouth falls open, frozen in shock)

CG:  Oh my gosh....you're right....she wasn't.....

ME:  (seething turning to rage) SO! Since she's not one of your little WHITE princesses, I guess you don't have to keep her stuff in stock, huh?! (Al begins to tug on my arm as he is envisioning the girl hitting an unseen security button under the counter)

CG:  (sputtering) B-b-b-b-but we have Pocohontas stuff!

ME:  (rage building to a crescendo) Of course you do! You only took their LAND and threw a THEME PARK on it!! (Al now has a hold of my arm and is physically trying to yank me out of the store, all the while scanning for security that he was sure was on its way)

CG:  Ummmmmm......uh.......uh.......

AL:  (loudly whispering, and simultaneously tugging) Buy the doll.....buy the doll....just buy the DAMN DOLL!!

ME:  FINE!!! Give me the fuckin' doll!!

CG:  (silently sells me the doll)

AL:  (Violently yanks me out of the store)

The rest of the vacation went quietly, we laughed, we saw a beautiful wedding, had a blast at the reception and continued the party at the Disney Boardwalk.....then Al had to tell EVERYONE in the wedding party about what happened at the Disney Princess store. And that's where I thought the story died, in Florida. But no, it was not to wither away. The very next time I was in our Pre-D room (Pre-D is the Pre-Departure brief that we receive prior to going out to the field, and is how the crew force receives any, and all, current pertinent information ranging from security to maintenance that will occur that day), one of the other crew members who was also going out that day leans over and says, "What's up, Mulan?" with a huge grin on his face. Damn.