Intercultural Music in Media

Representations of Chinese Music History and Culture within Korra and Mulan


  • Karen Vuong Department of East Asian Studies, University of Alberta



Through a case study on “The Legend of Korra” and “Reflection,” the representative musical pieces within Nickelodeon’s The Legend of Korra (henceforth Korra) (2012-2014) and Disney’s Mulan (1998) respectively, I examine how different cultural traditions are combined to create a piece of intercultural media. In particular, I explore how Orientalism has persisted in Western media through its superficial inclusion of other cultural traditions. Contrasting these strains of Orientalist thought, Korra especially stands out as an example of interculturalism through its music. This is primarily because it draws on the nuanced level of cohesion established between Korra’s narrative elements such as world building and plot, as well as its cultural influences. Consequently, I argue that Korra stands as an ideal model for how to incorporate both Western and non-Western elements in meaningful ways, and can serve to inform future narratives on the pressing issues of cultural appropriation and representation. With the recent release of the live-action remake of Disney’s Mulan, it is imperative to address the cultural shortcomings of modern Western media, and by what standard we should be judging when assessing its incorporation of other cultures.