"Turning Red'' made its exclusive debut on Disney+, and the positive reviews have been piling up. However, one negative review has become the source of fierce backlash that is highlighting the need for diverse stories and continued representation of marginalized backgrounds in popular media.
The controversy started when CinemaBlend posted Sean O'Connell’s review, which said, "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. Which is fine—but also, a tad limiting in its scope."
The review triggered widespread backlash, in which many called it "racist" and "sexist." Screenwriter Gennifer Hutchison tweeted that she is "tired of white people (and lotsa dudes) looking at movies and shows about people who aren't white" and saying they are hard to connect with, despite being about universal themes.
CinemaBlend deleted O'Connell's review, and the critic issued an apology explaining that he “didn’t engage nearly enough with the movie, nor did I explain my point of view well, at all.” For many, his statement did little to address their criticisms, as they felt his point of view was crystal clear.
Meanwhile, those who had worked on "Turning Red" defended its universal appeal. Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, who voices the character Priya, said that the film's story is universally relatable, "regardless of whether you are a young Chinese girl from Canada or not.”