Thursday, May 5, 2022

Film Review: Turning Red (Disney+)


Sexuality/Nudity Mature
Violence Acceptable
Vulgarity Acceptable

Anti-Catholic Philosophy Objectionable

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am not given to hysterical moral outrage when it comes to movies.  In fact, one of my most frequent critiques from readers is that I am excessively tolerant of content that they find intolerable.  When it comes to works of art, I keep a very open mind regarding the moral content, especially because there is a subjective element to all art.  My read of a story may be at odds with another and I am often circumspect about definitive moral judgments because of this.  Keep that in mind when I say this:

Turning Red is a piece of pro-abortion propaganda aimed at children by Disney/PIXAR.

Now you may wonder how a movie that does not center on abortion could be abortion propaganda.  It is in how the audience is primed to accept the worldview that abortion culture is rooted in.

The story centers around Melin (Rosalie Chiang), a 13-year-old Chinese Canadian.  She is an overachieving student, driven by her Mother Ming (Sandra Oh).  As Melin begins to have overwhelming feelings, they explode and turn her into a gigantic red panda.  

The premise sounds very simple.  But let me start at the end.

One of my favorite comic book reviewers has an observation about why many modern comic writers are terrible.  He states that they "write backwards from the punchline."  What that means is that the writers have a final point or message that they want to make, so everything in that story is written to get you to that final "punchline."  There is, of course, nothing inherently bad about beginning a story with the end in mind.  But in the case of these writers, organic character development, nuance, ambiguity, and subtlety are all thrown out so that they make sure we "get it."


At the end of the story Melin has come to accept the panda part of her life.  She is about leave with her friends when her mother that has her tail showing.  When Ming says "You're not going out like!"  Melin rolls her eyes and says:

"My panda my choice, mom!"

And there it is.

When I heard it I honestly could not believe it.  I suppose I should be grateful that writing this morally wrong is also very horribly done.

The entire journey of the movie is to get you to this moment where Melin accepts bodily autonomy and so spouts the abortion slogan in panda terms.

Even before this moment, the movie was terrible.  In the first act, Melin begins to develop hormonally charged feelings for boys for the first time.  I'm remembering a much better PIXAR movie, Inside/Out, where they made a joke reference to puberty, but were smart enough to avoid it.  Handled with intelligence and care, you could tell an excellent story as a metaphor for adolescents.  But it fails horribly for two reasons:

The first is that the writers abandoned the idea of subtle, symbolic story-telling.  Melin turns into a giant panda and comments on how she smells, is hairy, and feels no longer at home in her own body.  Ok, super-obvious analogy, but it could still work.  But instead of leaning in this direction, the movie begins moving into the biological realities of female development.  Again, this is not necessarily unworkable, but this is a movie directed at small children.  I don't know how many parent were aware that these things would be talked about in a kids movie.

The second is that Ming is the WORST Disney mother I have ever seen in a movie (and that's saying a lot).  When she discovers that Melin has drawn a shirtless merman that looks like the 17-year-old who works at the local convenient store, Ming drags her daughter to the crowded store, throws the pictures at the boy and tells him to leave her daughter alone.  What human parent would ever do this?!?  Your daughter draws a FANTASY MERMAN bears a resemblance to someone and you go out of your way to humiliate him and your daughter?  This is only done because they are working backwards from the punchline.  Melin must be so overwhelmed emotionally to trigger the change.

And then later, Melin is at school, Ming creeps around outside by the window to her class.  A security guard tries to tackle her.  Ming breaks free and runs to the window, shouting Melin's name and holds up a pack of menstrual pads announcing to everyone that her daughter needs them.

Again, in what world did the writers think that this would make any sense.  If your child forgot their lunch, would you find the window their class and shout at them like a lunatic while pelting pudding packs at the school?!?

This is once again done to put Melin into an emotional crisis for her to change.  

Now, I will admit that there are other reasons why I couldn't connect to the material.  The movie centers around Melin and her friends wanting to see their favorite boy band in concert.  There is such gravity placed on it that I could not grasp.  To be fair, I know that this is a common experience for many teenage girls, but this was completely lost on me.

The movie his no moral compass.  Everything works on pure, irrational emotion.  For example, there is a boy who acts as the "bully" to Melin and her friends.  Never mind the fact that they are as bad to him as he is to them.  But towards the end of the movie, they notice that he is also at the concert.  As soon as they know him as a fan, they accept him as one of their own and all is forgiven.

It is true that friendships begin because people see the same truth together.  But in this case, it was simply a matter of this boy liking the "correct" thing.  There is no character growth, arc, learning for this boy or this group of girls.  

But one of the most disgusting moments comes towards the end.  It turns out that Ming also had the panda curse.  When she loses control in the third act, she turns into a Godzilla-sized panda.  Melin has to distract her and get her riled up.  So Melin confronts her and they get into a verbal confrontation about Melin growing up.  In a fit of rage, Melin begins to dance in such a grossly inappropriate way that if she had done it in human form, I'd be worried that the movie was illegal.  But make no mistake, this movie depicts a 13-year-old girl dancing in a horribly sexually provocative way, but they cover her in her "panda form," so we are meant to find it endearing and funny.

It isn't.

It's sick.

As I said, all of this is about creating a culture where Melin embraces her own desires, irrational or not, immodest or not.  The point is that she has complete autonomy over her own body and gets to make her own decisions about being a panda or not.  This takes us to the horrid punchline.  Turning Red is attempting to indoctrinate its audience (children) into accepting a worldview where you can do anything you want with your body because it is your body. 

You will read reviews on this blog where movies deal with abortion, sexuality, and other moral issues.  And on some of those, I will often find positive things to say, even if I disagree with the messaging.  Sometimes people are trying to work out their own thoughts through their storytelling.  But those are movies that are made for adults.

Turning Red is made for children.

You know, I watched an interview with PIXAR founders about animated movies.  The interviewer said that an advantage to animation is that you could give political messages in a way that was packaged in innocent fun.  But both founders protested.  They said that they intentionally removed anything political from their content.  To do so, would drag down the art, making a screed of its particular time rather than something universal and timeless for everyone.

I wish PIXAR still heeded this message.  PIXAR built up so much good will with me because of their long track-record of quality.

No more.

They have lost all of my trust.  

Years ago in Wolverine #9, Logan says in a narration that the only thing that he really values anymore is innocence.  He says that it is so rare in this world that he has learned to cherish it.

Turning Red has no interest in innocence or the preservation of innocence in children.  All that matters is making a piece of propaganda that directs the minds of children to be more open to pro-abortion ideologies.

And propaganda is not art.

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