Chinese Celeb Promoting ‘Lion King’ Is No Simba, Critics Say

Fans of Cai Xukun are defending the pop star’s association with the Disney remake, while his detractors are threatening to boycott the film.

A still frame from Disney’s 2019 remake of “The Lion King.” From Douban

A popular Chinese singer has triggered debate in the country over his connection to this year’s remake of the Disney classic “The Lion King.”

In an open letter to Disney posted Thursday and widely shared after the movie’s release Friday, a user on microblogging platform Weibo slammed the company’s decision to use Cai Xukun — a member of the boy band Nine Percent — as a brand ambassador for the 2019 film in China. The post, which includes an image of a lion cub next to the celebrity, says Cai “stands for everything Simba does not.”

Many who are less enamored with Cai are now threatening to boycott the remake. The 20-year-old has often been accused of being a “data-centric star” who capitalizes on inflated social media clout to earn sponsorships. Earlier this year, state broadcaster China Central Television named and shamed Cai for purchasing fake social media interactions to boost his online popularity.

“A star like him should not be representing Simba — an honest, courageous, and heroic icon who rose from defeat and reclaimed his honor,” the open letter says.

A still frame from Disney’s 2019 remake of “The Lion King.” From Douban

Meanwhile, Cai’s camp is actively defending the star’s reputation and his association with the movie. They have rebuked the letter for denigrating Cai, saying its author “wasn’t a true ‘Lion King’ fan” under the post. Continue to read the full article here.



– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.