For anyone who has not seen Turning Red (go see it, it’s really good!), this will have slight spoilers. So proceed only if you dare.
This is my absolute favourite part of the film. I was watching it with my person, and I remember saying to her, “Oh my god, they’re Power Rangers!” and “Look at all that jade!” This scene, along with this Ken Jeong scene, are my two favourite comedy scenes in cinema. The ode to Chinese Triad movies…love it!
But I digress…back to Turning Red. Because I am a therapist, and because it’s hard to turn off my therapist brain, I was left wanting more when Turning Red alluded to emotions and intergenerational trauma.
Don't get me wrong. I love the film. The following two things aren't really criticisms. It's just more like an observation that I had when watching the film.
The first thing I would want to change is near the end. After the epic battle, Ming (Mei Mei’s mom) and the aunties had returned to the Astral Realm. They had a second chance to decide whether they want to seal their Red Panda power or not. I was sooo hoping that at least one of them would choose to keep the Red Panda transformation.
For me, that choice is significant, because it symbolizes agency and change. Often times, we perceive our previous generations as static and unchanging. We might even think they’re stuck in their ways. But of course, that isn’t true.
Our parents, grandparents, and previous generations are all different. They adapted to their environment in their life. And when our parents and grandparents immigrated here, they had to make many changes to adjust to the often unfriendly (racist) environment.
And even now, they are capable of change. And for many of my therapy clients, they tell me that as they themselves change as a person, they relate and communicate to their parents differently. And as they change, they find that it can also initiate changes in their parents and in their relationship with them...often times for the better.
And for me, our parents' agency and change is both real and also a source of hope. But of course, everyone's relationship with their parents is different.
The second thing I want to change is the arc where Mei Mei gained control of her Red Panda by finding emotional peace. All of us who’s dealt with emotions…we wish it was that quick and easy!
I do love that Mei Mei sees her Red Panda as an important part of her. To me, that symbolizes her acceptance of her emotions, and appreciates it for what it is. It's a very visceral way to show when her emotions are triggered, so she can learn, heal, and cultivate it.
And while it’s great Mei Mei took only a few days or weeks to reach this acceptance, most other non-animated humans would take much longer to get there. I do wish that they took a bit more time to show the ups-and-downs of working through trauma and emotions.
But hey, the movie is 100 minute run time. They can’t talk about everything. I’m happy the movie got made. Oh, and fuck the haters.
So there you have it. If I were to rate the movie, I would give it one enormous block of jade. In the meantime, I’ll figure out a better rating system.
As always, thanks for tuning in. If you found this helpful, get my free Asian Survival Guide.
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Therapy for Asians
MSW, RSW | he/him
I help Asians go from feeling trapped to becoming self-liberated.