This post is rather random, but it’s a random thought thread that has been running through my head since about 4:30pm today. That thought is the prevalence of the name ‘Ming’ in my 30.5 years on this Earth.
It starts when I was a 2 week old baby back in 1982 and my Nana gave me two Fisher Price rag dolls. They came with names, which I believe, were Lolly and Cholly. But my parents in their unimagined wisdom called these dolls Pink Girl and Blue Boy. Blue Boy’s name stuck, but I had other ideas for Pink Girl. My first word was not ‘Dada’ or ‘Mama’ but was in fact whilst reaching for the pink doll (which surprisingly for me was my instant favourite). I called her, Ming-Ming. And that is the name that stuck with her. My Ming-Ming went everywhere with me. And I do mean everywhere. She was washed, re-stuffed, had more trips to the dolly hospital than I care to mention. When she was so old and tattered and her face so thin that she couldn’t be re-stuffed or repaired any longer, I wrapped her in a blue baby blanket and kept her on my bed. It wasn’t until I was 27 that I let her go and that was with a heavy heart.
It hurt so much to let her go that My beautiful AH provided me with a replacement, also called Ming. A Panda Bear beanie baby who at the age of 30, I’m unashamed to say is in my right hand every night when I fall asleep. Ming-Ming the second as the bear is known, is a constant comfort and a reminder that my beautiful fiancée knew how much it hurt to say goodbye to the original and wanted to ease that pain. I love my Ming-Ming the second as much as I love the original. Both presents came with love.
One of my favourite films growing up was Flash Gordon. Yes it’s insanely cheesy and yes it definitely belongs in the Cult Classics. But for me the attraction to the film was the character, Ming the Merciless. I was a child who grew up watching Disney films and rooting for the bad guy, even Maleficent who scared me to death, so it doesn’t surprise me that I was insanely enraptured by this particular bad guy. I wanted to know why he had become evil, what had caused him to follow this path, and besides, that ring gave him wicked powers. And most of the heroes and heroines were boring and insipid.
That was until I found the delights of Disney’s Mulan. Here was a heroine I adored. She was kick-ass and dressed like a boy (the way I wanted to be allowed to dress). She cut her hair off, taught the men how to cope and she saved her country. Getting the guy was a by-product, not a necessity of her life and she was amazing. Mulan was who I wanted to be. Long before the days of understanding my gender identity, Mulan was setting the grade I wanted to live up to. I was 16 when this film came out, but even then as a teenager, she was a role model that went hand in hand with Stargate SG-1’s Samantha Carter. How is Mulan relevant? She was voiced by Ming-Na Wen. And I will admit to being amongst those who were disappointed she wasn’t cast as Mulan in Once Upon A Time on ABC. She said she was too old when people voiced on twitter that they wanted her for the part. My argument was simple, why do all the heroic characters have to be of a similar age?
Ming-Na Wen also, more recently has portrayed another character who has also resonated deeply for me. That of Camille Wray in the now finished Stargate Universe. The scripts for the part were amazingly written, but it takes a person to bring them to life and Ming-Na did an amazing job portraying Camille. Portraying a lesbian woman (or any gay character for that matter) can often lead to overuse of the stereotypes. It hurts to see our community turned into a parody and Ming-Na avoided that. What we saw before us was a very human character who was very much in love with her partner and whose sexuality was innate rather than paraded on her sleeve. It was a refreshing change and made me smile. Not only that, but when we tweeted (and yes there were a few of us) to thank Ming-Na for her portrayal, she was gracious and humble. You could tell that she was grateful for the feedback and happy that she had given us a character who resembled our community and was appreciated. Now all I can hope is that one day, I’ll meet Ming-Na at one of the many conventions I go to and whilst getting her autograph, get to thank her in person for the characters that have resonated within me.
I told you at the beginning of this post it would be random. I don’t think I was wrong, but I needed to put out the thoughts that have been washing around in my brain all afternoon/evening.