Pixar’s latest feature Turning Red is a hit in most circles. The film, about a Chinese Canadian 13-year-old girl, is both Pixar’s first Asian-led film and the studio’s first film solo-directed by a woman. It’s the #1 Disney+ film release across the globe and has a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Where there is success, there is often backlash, and this film is covered in it. A controversial review from CinemaBlend’s managing director thought it was unrelatable because it was set in the “Asian community of Toronto,” calling it “limiting” and “exhausting.” This is apparently different than, say, countless films set in the rich, white parts of New York City. The review was taken down and the guy apologized, but you can’t un-crack that racist egg.
One of the other loud (but not consequential) backlashes the film is experiencing is entrenched in the so-called “culture war.” Basically, people don’t like that the film is largely about puberty. The story follows 13-year-old Meilin Lee, who discovers a family curse that makes her turn into a giant red panda whenever she feels intense emotions. There is very little shame associated with the panda-puberty metaphor. In the movie, that is.
The shame is here in the backlash. It seems like many want a Mei-Mei who is quiet, doesn’t care about boys, and ignores both her period and her emotions. In other words, she “should” be what people stuck in the ‘50s consider a “proper woman.”