Turning Red’s Representation is Going all Wrong

Ashley Bryant , Staff Writer

“And not just the dudes!” – Mei Lee. I have gotten the chance to check out Pixar’s Turning Red directed by Domee Shi. What a fortunate and unfortunate 1 hour and 40 minutes. The movie genre is seen as Family/Comedy. While it does have great POC representation and focuses on issues POC go through, it is shown in a way that could have been better. The movie focuses on Mei Lee played as Roaslie Chiang. It shows her struggles of being torn between her chaotic life and also wanting to please her mother. 

Throughout the movie we do see how strict her mother is. For example, when she caught Mei drawing pictures of the guy at the convenience store and drove them both down there, yelled at him, and showed him the pictures. Talk about embarrassing. I feel like they’re trying to stereotype mothers, specifically Asian mothers of their obidentness and their strictness.

Another two major events that happened was; 1, when Mei first turned into her red panda form, and 2, when her and her friends used the red panda as a way to get money. This gives me a bad vibe because the overall gist of this movie is to talk about what the majority of POC’s face and their struggles but they’re doing in a way by using Mei and manipulating Mei for money? AND turning her into an animal?!?! Bad way to bring the point across but okay!

The most two confusing/horrible event for me was them doing all this exploiting the red panda just for boy band tickets? Yes everyone wants their first ever concert, but making money off of something that could stick with Mei forever is just concerning and the fact that her grandmother told her and she still continued to do it is just confusing, but at the end of the day I guess it does make sense. Teenagers always don’t do what they are told. Also towards the end of the movie when the mother basically turned into a red panzilla and started going crazy… AT THE CONCERT. What happened to the show, the band, the people? What happened to the original plot of the story?

This was definitely NOT Pixar’s best film. The animation was beautiful, but the acting was not it… At some points, the acting was weak to me, especially at the end of the film, “My panda, my choice” like what?? I know they were trying to be fun, quirky, and creative but it just came off as horrible and cringey and a “why would you say that?” moment.

Teen’s today struggle with finding their true identity and expressing themselves. In Turning Red, you really do see that come from Mei. Even though it takes a panda to get the point across, you definitely do see her finding herself and who she is, but also at the same time having to hide it because she knows her mother would never approve of who she is turning out to be, and the same thing happens in teen lives, even mine! Especially when it comes down to people of color we have a hard time expressing ourselves the way we would like to. 

All in all, Turning Red which was directed by Domee Shi has all the right ideas, the right mindset, but all the bad ways of showing them. The message is clear, direct, and comes from the heart, but the way it was represented was atrocious. The movie shows and depicts Mei Lee, who was played by Rolalie Chiang finding her true self/identity after being turned into a panda. It shows her struggling to make herself happy or to make her strict mother happy.