It’s easy to forget that Mike Pence is dangerously wrong about a lot of things and has been a public enemy to all good and right-thinking people in the country for a long, long time now.
He’s also insane. For instance, during his tenure as a right-wing radio show host, he once wrote an op-ed condemning Disney’s Mulan as propaganda with the intent of getting women into the armed forces.
It’s far from the most destructive thing he’s ever done — just see how he’s governed Illinois — but isn’t it nice to know that Kevin Swanson, Jr. is running beside Donald Trump?
Your potential Vice President, America. He’s no Joe Biden, but he’s just as unhinged as anyone else on the religious right. And that’s all that matters at the end of the day, isn’t it?
For the unaware, Walt Disney rarely invents their own stories. The majority of their stories come from fairy tales and folk tales around the world, and while they often make serious changes to the stories, they do a decent job of keeping the overall feel of the story compared to the original.
For instance, Snow White is based on the Brother’s Grimm story published in 1812. Their most recent affair, Frozen, is based on the Hans Christian Anderson story, The Snow Queen. The Little Mermaid is also based on a Hans Christian Anderson story, of the same name.
As you can probably guess, then, Mulan is based on a folk tale as well — in this case, a legendary Chinese warrior woman who lived sometime between 420 and 580 CE named Hua Mulan.
Mulan, who has a crater on Venus named after her, is described in The Ballad of Mulan. Mulan ends up killing herself to avoid becoming a concubine to the emperor at the end of the ballad (I told you Disney changed these stories), but the basic idea of a woman dressing as a man and traveling with a military is identical to the original. Like Snow White, she may have been based on a real person: Lady Fu Hao, a military general and strategist who lived during the Shang Dynasty.
So, armed with this knowledge, let’s go plunge the depths of Mike Pence’s ignorance as he proudly and confidently claims that a roughly 1,500-year-old Chinese ballad is “liberal propaganda.”
In his op-ed, Pence railed against some “mischievous liberal” at Disney, and not only discounted the animated character’s abilities (and by extension, presumably, the legendary woman and the real woman she might be based on) but infantilizes her based on her appearance:
Despite her delicate features and voice, Disney expects us to believe that Mulan’s ingenuity and courage were enough to carry her to military success on an equal basis with her cloddish cohorts. Obviously, this is Walt Disney’s attempt to add childhood expectation to the cultural debate over the role of women in the military.
I suspect that some mischievous liberal at Disney assumes that Mulan’s story will cause a quiet change in the next generation’s attitude about women in combat and they just might be right. (Just think about how often we think of Bambi every time the subject of deer hunting comes into the mainstream media debate.)
BuzzFeed News uncovered the 1999 op-ed. Now, it’s entirely possible Pence has changed his views since then; people born in 1999 can drive today, so it’s been a while. I’m not inclined to believe him if he says he did, and even if he did, that doesn’t change that this sort of unhinged, ignorant, self-assured rambling is what passes for intellectual discourse in the religious right here in 2016. The religious right Pence proudly represents today, in 2016.
Looking back on it, though, it’s funny to note how little the movie shaped our approach towards women in combat and in the military.
Pence also believed that Mulan’s romance with a high ranking officer was an example of why it was bad news to allow women to serve in the armed forces:
It is instructive that even in the Disney film, young Ms. Mulan falls in love with her superior officer! Me thinks the politically correct Disney types completely missed the irony of this part of the story. They likely added it because it added realism with which the viewer could identify with the characters. You see, now stay with me on this, many young men find many young women to be attractive sexually. Many young women find many young men to be attractive sexually. Put them together, in close quarters, for long periods of time, and things will get interesting. Just like they eventually did for young Mulan. Moral of story: women in military, bad idea.
Oh my goodness, those poor, sexually charged young people, unable to think about anything other than getting laid while they’re being shot at.
This sort of thing is insulting to women and men. Sort of like Pence in specific, and the religious right in general.
Feature image via Politicus USA