Just saw Disney’s Turning Red… Like many of you, I’ve seen a paste and copy Facebook post talking about how terrible this film is. I want to respond to the things said in that post and many others. The short version is…
It’s a great film. I laughed, smiled, and yes, even teared up during portions of it. But is it made for “kids?” No, it’s not made for small children. The film is PG so I’d say it’s more for older pre-teens and up kids. But, I also think it’s a film that many parents need to watch.
Before I go into the more extended version, I want to make sure something is understood. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what social media post you decide to listen to; you are the parent. What you select for your children is what needs to happen, though I would say this… maybe catch the point of this movie before you decide to lay down the law… So look into things outside of social media, and decide for yourself.
So let’s talk specifics, at least a few of them.
First off, the MAJORITY of the things in these “viral” Facebook posts are taken massively out of context. Context, 13-year-old Asian girl, raised in a very traditional Asian family dynamic. If you didn’t know, the trope of always having to be perfect and not be an embarrassment to the family is not just a story; it’s a cultural cornerstone for many Asians. Every 13 year old believes they are an adult, especially when they live a life where they have to act like one for the sake of the family. The girl even says, “I’m an adult, at least in the eyes of the bus company.” Because that’s the legal age that she could ride the public bus alone, on top of that, almost every 13-year-old girl is coming or has already come to the point where she’s noticing boys. How they express it ranges from just not caring, sitting down, and writing the boy’s last name attached to theirs to see how they like it. ( Yep… seen this one too, folks kids do this stuff)
The girls in this movie talk and act like SOOO many young ladies who find themselves obsessed with boys. I’ve personally heard and seen young ladies act out and say very similar things countless times. So I want to ask some of you moms who are reading this post to think back to when you were into Backstreet Boys, New Kids on the Block, the Beatles, The Jackson 5, and Elvis Presley. It’s the exact same thing that these young girls were doing in this film.
Let’s talk about the rebellion. The point of this film is not to glorify teenage rebellion. Instead, it points out the dangers of being a “helicopter parent” even if you do so with good intentions. Meilin’s mother had a perfectly reasonable reason to be a “helicopter” mother. In fact, when you to the end of the film, you discover that her choice in how to mother wasn’t just because it was passed onto her by her own controlling mother; but from a genuine place of pain. In the film, you see the mother go overboard with her correction and blames anything she doesn’t like about her daughter on her friends and others. Meilin is so desperate to earn her mother’s acceptance (something she feels she can’t do) that she allows her mother to believe terrible things about her friends, causing her to alienate others. The rebellion you see, while I am in no way condoning rebellion, is a direct result of “helicopter parenting.”
Like I said earlier, this film has a lot of heart, and the story’s point is really beautiful. It’s simply about a young lady who feels like she can’t please her mother attempting to get past that while realizing her mother is a victim of the very same situation.
So yes, it’s a great movie, and I recommend it. If nothing else, sit down with your pre-teen/teenage kids, watch it with them, then talk about the film. Affirm in your child that they don’t’ have to earn your love and affection. Affirm in them that you are proud of them. Also, allow it to be an opportunity to listen to your child. You may discover that you’ve been a type of “helicopter parent,” and while you’ve done it out of a place of love, perhaps your child is suffering it. Please don’t take that as an attack, but take it as an opportunity to change course. That DOES NOT mean you release all restraint and let your child run free. You’re still a parent; you have to parent. But it does mean evaluating what is necessary and not and then repenting and moving on.