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19th Mar 2022

‘Grossly concerning’: Not all parents are loving Disney’s new movie Turning Red

Trine Jensen-Burke

Disney Turning Red

Saw it, loved it – literally did not see a single problem with it.

If you have kids and a Disney + subscription, chances are you have already seen their new Disney Pixar movie, Turning Red.

The movie is a sort of coming-of-age story (not unlike last year’s Luca), but this time, the ‘heroine’ is 13-year-old Mei Mei Lee, a 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian middle school girl, who is feisty, determined and independent-thinking… until she turns into a giant red panda whenever she’s overcome with emotion.

You know – kind of what puberty feels like for everyone (except maybe actually turning into a panda, of course)


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Et innlegg delt av Disney+ (@disneyplus)

Normalising puberty and periods

Director Domee Shi told Awards Daily her inspiration for the film was her personal experiences.

“[I was a] Chinese-Canadian, dorky, sassy, nerdy girl who thought she had everything under control,” Shi explained.

“Then boom, puberty hit, and I was bigger. I was hairier. I was hungry all the time. I was a hormonal mess and I was fighting with my mom.”

Making this movie, she reveals, was a chance to go back to that time.

“And understand and excavate what was happening back there.”

The concept has resonated with audiences, evidenced by the film’s popularity, and can we just say – how AMAZING it is to be able to normalise things like periods and puberty, you know – as they are so absolutely normal to begin with.

One delighted reviewer wrote:

“This movie was fantastic and a must-watch for any [child’s] coming of age, boy or girl, about how to be yourself, get through generational trauma, and understand there’s nothing wrong with growing up and accepting the parts of you that aren’t perfect, especially if you think they’re important.”

A Twitter used chimed in:

“You need to warn parents it involves period stuff”

However, the film’s metaphors for puberty, and especially its normalisation of periods, has been criticized by some parents and critics worried about their kids being exposed to “uncomfortable” subjects.

Their issue is about the film’s inclusion of themes such as puberty and periods, and what they are complaining about, is that the subjects in this PG rated movie are too mature for the children it’s marketed to.

One audience review on Rotten Tomatoes stated that a Disney movie centred on “adult topics like puberty and menstruation” was “grossly concerning.”

Another one tweeted:

“Trash movie. You need to warn parents it involves period stuff. My seven-year-old son doesn’t need to see that. You marketed it as a movie about a fluffy red panda. Not menstruation and teen rebellion.”

Despite periods and puberty being a part of life, many parents complained and said they felt betrayed by Disney as a brand.

“Disney has long held an established trust by parents in this country that anything that had the Disney label, parents just knew about vetting – they could trust to be safe for this children,” one person wrote.

“Disney has finally now officially violated that trust once and for all by publishing this smut.”

Another one chimed in:

“Not what I wanted to watch with my eight-year-old son. Leave the period/hormonal stuff for parents to teach at home! When they feel it appropriate #UnpopularOpinion.”

Tell us – have YOU seen Turning Red with your kids? What did you think? Did YOU have any concerns?