Disney’s done it again. In its latest animated release to hit the streaming platform this year, Turning Red is the coming of age movie that no child needs and no parent asked for. It’s another attempt for Disney to shape the way our kids perceive the world, and project very mature topics onto unsuspecting viewers.
The Disney and Pixar film, which hit the parent company’s streaming platform on March 11th, “follows 13-year-old Mei Lee, a confident-but-dorky teenager with a tight nit group of friends who are passionate about a boy band called 4-town.”
If only that’s what Turning Red was about.
My key takeaways are that Turning Red is about normalizing puberty in a completely obnoxious way, poking fun at periods and sex in a way that makes even adult viewers uncomfortable, and that it’s okay to disobey your parents as long as you’re honoring yourself.
In a lot of ways, it’s like a 13-year-old girl’s version of a Rachel Hollis book—preaching self love, self gratification, and not caring what anyone else thinks as long as you’re making yourself happy.
But friends, that’s not the message our kids need. Especially in the way it’s conveyed through Turning Red.
The movie is directed by Domee Shi, who won an Oscar for her animated short film, “Bao.” Having seen “Bao,” I had high hopes for Turning Red. They quickly fell very, very flat.
“The number one rule in my family? Honor your parents,” 13-year-old Mei begins the movie narration. “Honoring your parents sounds great, but if you take it too far, well, you might forget to honor yourself.”
“Luckily,” she adds, “I don’t have that problem.”
And that friends, is the first place Disney missed the mark.
“I’m Meilin Lee,” She introduces herself 90 seconds in. “Ever since I turned 13, I’ve been doing my own thing, making my own moves, 24/7, 365. I wear what I want, say what I want, and I will not hesitate to do a spontaneous cartwheel if I feel so moved.”
She continues, “I accept and embrace all labels.”
Within the first ten minutes of the film, we get our first taste of the discomfort to come as Mei tucks herself under her bed to draw inappropriate pictures of herself and a 17-year-old boy she has a crush on in a very sexual manner. Her mother discovers the drawings and is mortified, asking, “did he do these things to you?”
It only gets worse as her “overbearing” mother then verbally attacks the 17-year-old boy in public, calling him out for doing horrific things to her daughter that were all just made-up fantasies.