TURNING RED: Pixar Sets the Bar for Cultural Representation (part one)

It’s no surprise that this film was directed by a woman. This film was another masterpiece by Disney, filled with diversity, inclusion, discussion about intergenerational trauma, and gorgeous food scenes.

Disney has been doing fantastic work with all the movies they have been putting out recently, one of them being Encanto. So that is why during a study session in a random lecture hall around campus, I found myself one afternoon in April watching Turning Red instead of writing a paper.

Disney has always been able to create magical films with extraordinary animations. However, recently I feel like there’s something in the water at the Pixar studios because they have been creating amazing films about cultural representation in such a beautiful way. So today, I’ll be discussing how Turning Red is a step in the right direction not only for cultural representation but also for little kids who can see someone similar on the television screen as they grow older.

*Also, this is going to be a two-part post series because I have so much to say about this movie and don’t want to make this post too long!!

Also, I want to take the time to express the fact that my heart goes out to all the families and people affected by the school shooting at Robb Elementary. No family deserves to be hurt like that, and no child deserves to not feel safe in a place that promises safety and quality education.

Abby, Priya, Miriam, & Mei Lei

The four best friends are a group of ambitious and diverse teenage girls who dare to be reckoned with. Mei is Chinese Canadian, Priya is Indian-Canadian, Miriam is Jewish-Canadian, and Abby is Korean. Together, the girls form the kind of teen group we all know and love.

Ming Lee, the overprotective immigrant mother we all know and love.

From bringing sliced fruit to Mei to running down the streets with her heels in hand as she chases after her daughter, Ming represents the overprotective yet loving parent that we can all relate to.

Ming believes that she’s being a great parent, as she spies on Mei at school, but she doesn’t realize that her actions are bringing her daughter more pain than good. She expects Mei to be perfect and do whatever she asks, unaware of the fact that Mei has things in her life just as important (maybe even more) as her mother’s wishes.

The last person I’ll discuss is Ming Lee, the quiet and lovable father who provides wisdom through wise words and love through his spectacular cooking.

Although Ming doesn’t show his love for his daughter with verbal affirmations or by running through the streets, he demonstrates his love for Mei through cooking.

Ming has a thoughtful and warm nature that helps balance the chaos between Meilin and her mother. Even though he is a background character who doesn’t talk much, the little moments he does have are such a big part of the film and just make it much more special.

It’s so important for people, especially children, to see themselves on television.

A positive portrayal of minorities in the media is SO important because what we see online can influence what we do and grow up to become. All people should have access to media that represents them, not only because it’s realistic but because it allows people to grow with a sense of pride in who they are and who they can become.

That is why I was so excited to see the representation of Muslims, disabled people, and diabetic people.

dexcoms, turbans, wheelchairs, oh my!

I also need to talk about Jin’s food scene because it was a beautiful homage to Chinese cooking.

In my personal experience, food is so important to culture because it is the glue that can bring people together. I can’t speak for all cultures or all people, but I am Ghanian, and my immigrant parents are extremely familiar with the notion of using food as a way to show affection. My parents have never been the best at apologizing, but offering food has always been the olive branch to patch up tense situations.

There’s such beautiful artistry to the food scene and I think we should all take the time to rewatch it in awe.

I heard about this scene before watching the movie and I heard so many good things about it, so I already knew it was going to be amazing, but when I watched it, it was better than any description a person could give.

The last thing I want to mention before I stop writing is the iconic 4-Town!!

The band represents so many bands and boy groups that teenagers have always managed to fall in love with and obsess over for so many years. The band strengthened the bond that the 4 girls have, and it motivated them to work towards something they loved and wanted.

4-Town is a group that binds the girl’s friendships together, and it helped bring out the strength and confidence that all the girls had already inside them. It made me so happy to see how it pushed them to go after what they wanted, even if it wasn’t what their parents wanted.

In the next post, I have so much more to say, one of the topics being the more serious topics that the movie talks about. I would try to fit it all into this post, but it would make it wayyy too long and I don’t want to make this post unbearable!!

I haven’t written a post in so long, and it made me so happy to be able to sit down and write without any distractions, especially without having to think about school assignments.

Stay tuned for the next post in this very, very, very mini-series.

Until next time…

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