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‘Turning Red’ Movie Review Removed For Being ‘Racist’ And ‘Sexist’; CinemaBlend Apologizes
Turning Red
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

A review of the new Disney/Pixar animated film “Turning Red” was unpublished after being accused of being “sexist” and “racist,” NBC News reported. CinemaBlend Managing Director Sean O’Connell wrote the offending critique, which said the movie had limited appeal due to the setting and subject matter.

“I recognized the humor in the film, but connected with none of it. By rooting ‘Turning Red’ very specifically in the Asian community of Toronto, the film legitimately feels like it was made for [director] Domee Shi’s friends and immediate family members,” O’Connell wrote in the deleted review. “Which is fine — but also, a tad limiting in its scope.”

In a since-deleted tweet, O’Connell expanded on this thought: “Some Pixar films are made for universal audiences. ‘Turning Red’ is not. The target audience for this one feels very specific and very narrow. If you are in it, this might work very well for you. I am not in it. This was exhausting.”

CinemaBlend announced Tuesday that the review was being removed from their site. CinemaBlend Editor-In-Chief Mack Rawden issued the following statement: “We failed to properly edit this review, and it never should have gone up. We have unpublished it and assigned to someone else. We have also added new levels of editorial oversight. Thank you to everyone who spoke up.”

O’Connell also apologized on Twitter, saying, “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.”

The retraction was not enough for some people, though. Entertainment Weekly Digital Editor Yolanda Machado tweeted: “This [review] was written by your managing director, not some junior writer. As an editor, there is no amount of editing that would have erased the racism. What are you doing to make sure he is held accountable and this doesn’t happen again?”

“Turning Red” is directed by Domee Shi, who won an Oscar for animated short film with her Pixar project “Bao.” The movie follows 13-year-old Meilin “Mei” Lee, a Chinese-Canadian who turns into a giant red panda whenever she’s overcome with emotion. The teen is also navigating relationships with her mother, her friends, and her first romantic crush. 

Viewers are concerned that the film, which received a PG rating, delves too far into mature themes for the typical Disney audience. Blunt talk about periods is prevalent. Plus, Mei gyrates in front of her mother while taunting her, sneaks out with her friends, and gets accused of drawing “sexy” pictures. Much of it would go over the heads of very young kids. Still, parents are saying watching the movie has led to some uncomfortable questions.

When asked if the “Turning Red’s” storyline had a limited appeal, as the review claimed, voice actor Rosalie Chiang (the voice of Mei) said, “Of course not. This is a coming of age film, everyone goes through this change… I think different people of different cultures are going to go through it differently, but at the end of the day, the core messiness and change is something everyone can relate to.”

Shi also disagreed with the reviewer’s criticism, telling CBC, “[The film] is a love letter to that time of our lives. It’s a love letter to puberty. It’s a love letter to Toronto.”

For the most part, critics appreciated the film while regular viewers took a negative view, leading to a 94% critic score and 73% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes

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