During the 2020 Vice Presidential debate, Mike Pence told a middle-schooler to distrust the media, but what he failed to mention is that an animated classic beloved by children everywhere — Mulan — is a movie that Pence hates so much, that he actually went on a rant about it in 1999.
As Slate pointed out this week, in 1998 and 1999, Pence hosted his own conservative radio program, The Mike Pence Show, during which time he penned an op-ed that he shared on the show’s site. In it, he explained that he was a regular “American Hoosier dad” who took his kids to the then-new film, Mulan. And then he went on to attack Disney and their brave heroine, apparently with little to no awareness of the character’s centuries-old origins. Oh, and he slammed the notion of women in the military. We’re not here to damn Pence! He did that himself, in his very own words!
After referencing Mulan’s “delicate features and voice” and arguing that “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,” he adds this:
“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.)”
It gets worse. Pence cites what he considers real world-examples to make the point that “the hard truth of experiment with gender integration is that it has been an almost complete disaster for the military and for many of the individual women involved.” And on he goes, arguing that nubile young men and women can’t help but be attracted to one another, meaning the females have no place in “this man’s army.” Finally, after making every misogynistic claim possible, and then some, he concludes, “Moral of the story: women in the military, bad idea.”
You can quibble with various issues in either the animated Mulan or the new, live-action remake. But, one thing is pretty clear for kids. Having a Disney movie with a strong and confident female role model is all kinds of good. Pence may have made his comments years ago, but for kids, Disney movies tend to have little to do with when they were released. As parents, we might complain that renting the new Mulan for 30 bucks on Disney+ is too pricey, but that doesn’t mean we think Mulan sucks. Pence, on the other hand, hates a kids’ movie that casually suggests that women can fight for their rights. Who are your kids better off listening too, Mulan or Mike Pence?