A review for Disney Pixar’s latest film Turning Red, has been taken down after being slammed for calling the film about the ups and downs of being a teenage girl “unrelatable.”
The review, titled “In Pixar’s Latest Comedy, Girls Just Wanna Have Fur,” was published on Tuesday and taken down that night. It was written by Sean O’Connell, the managing director of the website CinemaBlend.
He tweeted an apology on Tuesday afternoon, but the damage had already been done.
“I’m genuinely sorry for my Turning Red review,” he said. “It is clear that I didn’t engage nearly enough with the movie, nor did I explain my point of view well, at all.”
I’m genuinely sorry for my Turning Red review. Thank you to everyone who has reached out with criticism, no matter how harsh. It is clear that I didn’t engage nearly enough with the movie, nor did I explain my point of view well, at all. I really appreciate your feedback.
— Sean O’Connell (@Sean_OConnell) March 8, 2022
The movie follows Meilin Lee, a confident and dorky Chinese Canadian teenager experiencing the rollercoaster ride that is adolescence. Her protective mother, Ming, is always on her tail — quite literally. As if changes to her interests, relationships, and body weren’t enough, whenever Meilin gets too excited, she “poofs” into a giant red panda.
O’Connell’s main argument in the review is that Turning Red’s target audience is incredibly specific (specifically geared towards anyone who has experienced being a teenage girl); therefore, it “exhausted” him more than it entertained him.
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“So by design, Turning Red needs to ramp up its nervous system and plug directly into the mindset of a young woman,” wrote O’Connell. “It’s… a lot. It demands Turning Red to ramp up to an ’11’ and stay there. It wore me out.”
The writer, who is a white male, then criticized the movie for being rooted in director Domee Shi’s experience as a Chinese Canadian woman.
“By rooting Turning Red very specifically in the Asian community of Toronto, the film legitimately feels like it was made for Domee Shi’s friends and immediate family members,” he said. “Which is fine… but also, a tad limiting in its scope.”
For context, the “limited scope” he is referring to is 1.8 million Canadians of Chinese descent, according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenships Canada, and the population of 4.1 million people who identify as Chinese in the US. Not to mention, over half of Canada’s population of women and girls, regardless of race.
In a now-deleted tweet where O’Connell shared his review, the writer said the target audience for the movie was “very narrow” and that he is “not in it,” which made it “exhausting.”
Fans were quick to defend the film and flooded his tweet with angry replies.
“This is embarrassing,” one person tweeted.
This is embarrassing. pic.twitter.com/VxklC93aOp
— It’s Pixar Week ladies and gentlemen! (@Jonathanest90s) March 9, 2022
Many told him to check his privilege.
Turning Red’s specificity is one of the most charming things about it. “I am not in it therefore it is exhausting” is an awful, and frankly privileged, way to engage (or not engage) with art. pic.twitter.com/wcJMHotTfw
— Jeff Zhang 张佶润 (@strangeharbors) March 8, 2022
If I can watch movies made for white people my ENTIRE life y’all can watch a movie about an Asian girl for once https://t.co/2w9h2xDpH4
— Kels 🌸 (@Kelseyummm) March 8, 2022
“Turning Red needs to ramp up its nervous system and plug directly into the mindset of a young woman. It’s a lot.” Yeah, try being a young woman. That’s exactly why these types of movies are needed. You know how limiting and exhausting it is to only see movies about young men?
— Lildippindot (@lildippindot) March 8, 2022
Do you understand how damaging that tweet was? How much this is rooted in problems with systemic ‘isms in film criticism. Why women haven’t been able to see themselves represented in movies. You host a movie podcast with 2 other white men, you have access to many others
— Teri Hart (@TeriHart) March 9, 2022
Others suggest he expand his consumption of art and “de-centre” his whiteness.
— Dan Leon Taylor 🖖 (@danleontaylor) March 8, 2022
Maybe next time instead of trying to “relate” to the character of a 12 year old girl you could just enjoy the movie. Hating anything related to girls and women is really getting old.
— 🌟StarGirl🌟 (@MsLuvlee717) March 9, 2022
You explained your point of view very clearly, it was exhausting for you to not be centered as a white man. I hope this is the beginning of a journey for you to de-center whiteness and you work toward doing better on a daily basis.
— ði Ʒi en’rike (they/them/she/her) 🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️ (@luckydeviIgaia) March 8, 2022
A lot of people aren’t satisfied with his apology.
You’re just apologizing cuz you’re scared of being cancelled and called out for the narrow POV you have and what little influence you have left. Leave your original tweet up so people like me, who have felt seen by this filmmaker since Bao, can be reminded of why stories matter
— Romeo Candido (@romeocandido) March 9, 2022
Translation: I got dragged extensively when I published my very deeply held shitty opinions. This tweet is damage control. My opinions are still the same, but I hope this will be enough to get me off the hook.
— Sludge Vohaul (@SVohaul) March 8, 2022
Whether you’re Chinese-Canadian, a teenage girl, or not, the response from the film’s fans is a great indication of Turning Red’s not-so-limited audience.
The film will be available to watch on March 11 on Disney+.