“Turning Red”: is it really that bad?

Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios | Mei as a red panda looking surprised.

Since the release of “Turning Red” there has been mixed reviews from parents about the messages the movie is giving children.

“Turning Red” is Disney and Pixar’s latest film released on Feb. 21 for streaming on Disney+. The film’s description says “Mei tries to balance friends, family, and an uncontrollable ability to poof into a giant red panda” on Disney+. Yet, this family comedy movie has received some backlash from some due to the subject matter of the 13-year-old main character Mei Lee getting her period.

All over social media, you can see threads about “Turning Red” and parents talking about how “they were not ready to have the puberty talk with their 9-year-olds” or “how it is not Disney’s place to force parents to have the puberty talk with their kids because they watched this movie”. Anywhere you look, a comment similar to the above can be found within a post having to do with “Turning Red.” 

All that is not to say that the film doesn’t talk about periods, it does. There is a whole scene where Mei Lee’s mom asks her “Did the big red peony arrive?” and then proceeds to bring Mei Lee pads, painkillers and a hot water bottle, all things that a 13 year-old-girl would need. 

But let’s take into consideration that during this scene Mei Lee is a giant red panda trying to hide from her mother in the bathtub making all kinds of faces. For most younger kids the period talk is going to go right over their heads and they are going to focus on the panda hiding.

Throughout the film, Mei struggles to keep the panda tame while dealing with all the emotions that she is going through, some would say that when Mei changes into the panda that symbolizes the emotional part of periods. This is something I would agree with as a 23-year-old, but for a 6-year-old they are going to see Mei getting mad at a bully and standing up to him as a panda.

We have to remember that Disney and Pixar put some adult jokes and themes into these films that will keep parents entertained, at least the first few times they are going to be watching the film. 

I grew up watching Disney and Pixar movies and I still catch little things that I have not noticed before. So even though as an adult we see a movie showing the emotions of Mei going through puberty, if you look in the eyes of a kid it’s Mei learning how to handle emotions and what helps her feel better but also finding who she is as a person. 

Whether you view the film as a coming-of-age movie about puberty or a coming-of-age movie about being your true self, “Turning Red” is a good film. 

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