Turning Red and the Female Gaze

The recent Disney / Pixar film Turning Red has been widely celebrated not only for being enjoyable, but for showcasing a touching and realistic portrayal of teenage girlhood, with all its joys and sorrows. However, it also sparked an immediate negative response from a wide variety of critics saying they felt the intended audience was "too narrow" or "not relatable enough."

Women and racialized people have had to watch films intended for white men for as long as the medium has existed, and still enjoy movies without being the exact target audience. What is it about movies intended for other audiences that make otherwise enjoyable movies, such as the delightful Turning Red, so uncomfortable for the white male audience?

  • Could also add queer / LGBTQ+ folks to the list of people who rarely have targeted media for them, though queer media has become much more popular in the past few years. – SBee 5 months ago
  • Great topic. Basically, the answer is, "If a film is not intended for a 'majority' audience, it makes them uncomfortable." As SBee said, you could broaden this to include LGBTQ+ audiences, as well as others. I'd also suggest talking about the ways in which majority actors and directors try to make these "uncomfortable" films "acceptable" to the majority. Examples include, not discussing or showing female-centric issues such as periods, defining LGBTQ+ people by sexuality only, using inspiration porn to make disability palatable, etc. – Stephanie M. 5 months ago
  • I spent some time recently on this topic, the oppositional gaze was coined and created by the lack of representation experienced by black women in movies as main characters. Perhaps it is something similar in regards to white men being left out of a movie, although it would be drastically different given the centuries of privilege's and expectancies that have developed. – Mhanley1022 5 months ago
  • I wish I still had the article that summed up this experience a lot more eloquently than I can, but essentially it talked about how a viewer from a minority group is conditioned to empathetically putting themselves in the role of the white male protagonist since the straight white man is the centralized experience of our society so we're all knowledgeable of that story. Whereas a straight white man watching Turning Red or anything else has had far less experience thinking beyond the scope of himself, so he can only assume that films like that aren't very good at all because the media he consumes has never asked him to step into the shoes of a young Asian girl, etc. It's pretty obvious stuff, but it's all exposure effect, y'know? – clemenkind 4 months ago

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