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STEM Movie Spotlight: Turning Red

By Rital Miller and Joslyn Stamp

Turning Red, released in 2022, celebrates the coming of age. The main character, Meilin “Mei” Lee, comes from a Chinese family who she feels embarrasses her in front of her friends at school in the late 1980s. Mei starts to experience changes; when she doesn't control her emotions she transforms into a giant red panda. Instead of handling these new changes with maturity, she uses her ability to change into a red panda to earn money so that she and her friends can go to a concert from the band 4-town. Mei needs to learn how to become more mature as she starts feeling pressure from her family to be perfect and to live a normal middle school life.

This movie incorporates SEL since it shows the average social life of a teenage girl. Mei wants freedom to date boys and go to concerts but her mom wants her to focus on her future. We learn how Mei’s mom was like Mei and was constantly under the pressure of being perfect by her mom. Due to this, she treats Mei just like her mom treated her. Kids watching this movie can learn how their parents were raised in a certain way that could influence how they want to raise their kids. Parents generally want what’s best for their kids so they can push their kids in a more strict direction in order to try and ensure a good future.

A career that can be associated with this movie is a family therapist. Mei and her mother start to have a toxic relationship when Mei wants a little freedom while her mom is trying to get a tighter grip on her. Going to therapy together would have helped them release their emotions and understand one another, preventing the huge uprising at the 4-town concert that happened towards the end of the movie from occurring in the first place.

We’d recommend this movie to kids from 9-year-olds and above, the movie is targeted toward younger audiences by showing the dilemma of children and pre-teens. The movie can be related to a lot of children who may feel pressure from their families and want perfection from their kids.

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