When I was sixteen, I Turned Red. It was a teenager’s cliché attempt at setting the world on fire with red hair dye. I had quit my fast food job, broken up with my boyfriend and decided that the next natural step was to dye my hair red — becoming a visual wildfire. According to my dad, this meant I would next get a tramp stamp.
After I was sixteen, I Turned Crimson. It was an adolescent’s cliché try at setting the world on hearth with pink hair dye. I had stop my quick meals job, damaged up with my boyfriend and determined that the following pure step was to dye my hair pink — turning into a visible wildfire. In response to my dad, this meant I might subsequent get a tramp stamp.
After I entered faculty, all that was left had been pink split-ends. Over winter break, my mother trimmed these final fiery tendrils from my hair, leaving me a black pile of ashes. Over spring break, I watched “Turning Crimson” alone as a tribute to my very own, retired Crimson Panda. Spoiler alert, it made me cry and wish to spend my final day at house watching it with my mother.
The opening scene of the film introduces Meilin as the proper Chinese language daughter. She is studious, she is obedient and he or she is so cute. Meilin spends her afternoons serving to her mom on the household temple, the place they worship their ancestor Solar Yee. Her buddies — who aren’t Chinese language — nonetheless, suppose she has been brainwashed by her mother to be continually working as a substitute of chasing traditional teenage enjoyable.
After Meilin Turns Crimson, unleashing all the trend and feelings that set off her Crimson Panda aspect, she stops making an attempt to be good. When her mom refuses to permit her to go to a boy band’s live performance, Meilin and her buddies create a pretend math membership whereas secretly earning money for the live performance tickets. The kicker is that as a substitute of Meilin hiding her Crimson Panda as her mom commanded, she markets the novelty of it, profiting off of pictures, hugs, T-shirts and loads of cute merchandise. Main as much as this, her mom acknowledges a brand new look in her daughter’s eyes — certainly one of real anger and frustration in direction of her.
As Meilin’s actuality begins to unravel, so too does her private historical past of “being brainwashed.” The film poses the query: is it value honoring your loved ones if you happen to aren’t honoring your self? A typical battle to these break up between two cultures, this theme is a play on filial piety, urging the little Asian youngsters watching to judge their obligation not solely to their household however to themselves.
Ming, Meilin’s mother, finally ends up revealing that the curse of “turning pink” is intergenerational. Regardless that centuries have handed since Solar Yee’s lifetime — in a complete completely different continent for that matter — all girls within the household have gone by means of a part of turning into large pink pandas upon bursts of emotion. However her personal mom and a number of other sisters have all bodily locked up their pandas, in gadgets starting from jade bangles to a pendant. In a flip of occasions, when Meilin refuses to lock up her panda, Meilin’s mom’s personal panda is unleashed.
I cried when Ming’s pink panda lastly escaped its confinement. Ming’s pink panda is a big, terrifying pressure — and so is my mother when she turns pink. However when the panda is freed, the intimidating mom determine of Ming all of a sudden turns into humanized. As my mom noticed me in Meilin, I noticed her in Ming.
I resonate with “Turning Crimson” significantly due to its shift of the gender focus, from the stereotypical Kung Fu masters or elite entrepreneurs to Chinese language daughters. Like the way it unleashes the pink pandas, the film additionally unleashes itself from the male-centric orientation in conventional East Asian tradition. My mother informed me that my dad initially by no means needed a daughter. My dad’s the kind with black belts in three martial arts and an habit to train. He clearly needed robust sons and was naturally disenchanted by my gender’s reveal till I entered the world and managed to alter his thoughts. I suppose I’m simply that tremendous.
It’s refreshing to see that Meilin, the principle character, is a woman and the household’s solely youngster. I discover it cathartically pleasing to see Meilin getting all of the love, in a Chinese language tradition whose conventional gender biases skew in direction of the sons of a household.
I believe I can proudly say that I’m my dad’s favourite, however everybody is aware of my mother likes my twin brother extra. To be truthful, he’s much more obedient. He by no means turns pink and may all the time be counted on to keep up a steady impartial state. I, however, have a variety of loud feelings that aren’t all the time below management.
After I was somewhat lady who watched an excessive amount of TV, I questioned why there have been so many jokes about mother and father fearing the “diva” age of daughters, by which they had been “moody” and “dramatic.” Eight-year-old Kayla discovered these TV daughters impolite and disrespectful and was assured that she would have sufficient self-control to stay a relaxed and composed daughter.
Nicely, highschool Kayla was continually an enormous pink panda. It wasn’t simply due to the hormones. Changing into a pink panda was a essential step on the way in which to recognizing a world past my house. It was how I, and maybe different Chinese language daughters, strengthened their voices with out essentially sacrificing their previous selves.
Meilin continues to be devoted to the temple on the finish of the film. However on the identical time, she additionally permits herself a life exterior of it.
Meilin’s buddies symbolize extra Western attitudes in direction of familial obligations. They suppose she has been brainwashed due to how a lot of her life she devotes to her household unit. They don’t perceive that, for Meilin, to “flip pink” is to show her entire household pink. Regardless that I declare to have been an enormous pink panda, I acknowledged my limits. I can by no means permit myself to be the issue, simply as Meilin by no means turns into actually egocentric. In any case, selfishness doesn’t salvage Meilin — being a part of a household does.
Meilin’s prolonged household is sort of an ideal mirror to my very own. Meilin’s mother has a number of highly effective Cantonese-speaking sisters, all in Canada. My mother hails from Hong Kong and has six sisters, all now dwelling in America. However a deeper similarity lies in our mother-daughter relationships. In one of many last scenes of the film, Meilin guides the youthful variations of Ming to assist her tame her panda. Ming is proven to be crying and in a state of misery much like Meilin’s personal “pink” state. It jogged my memory of the primary time I noticed my mother cry. When her closest sister died, I noticed that my mother was not superhuman. And since she was human, I felt that I might perceive her, and he or she might perceive me.
“Turning Crimson” is for generations of Chinese language daughters, moms and grandmothers. It exhibits that these “intergenerational curses” are cyclical and aren’t meant to be endured alone. The curses might be resolved inside a household, with out dissolving the household.
Whereas “Turning Crimson” celebrates private freedom and extols individuality, it by no means stops celebrating actions that honor the household. The 2 aren’t mutually unique. They by no means have been. As I mirror on my first yr at Yale, having cared for buddies who turned pink and having been the pink panda that was cared for, I’ve discovered my lesson on the intersection of conventional Chinese language collectivist ideology and Western individualism. By recognizing your self as a person, you understand your particular person affect on others and others’ particular person impacts on you. “Turning Crimson” isn’t about Meilin lastly taking management of her personal life however reasonably her understanding what it means to be one particular person in a loving, supportive community of many.
One of many greatest criticisms of “Turning Crimson” is that it’s too “area of interest” of a film. It’s. However for all of the individuals who have felt “area of interest” their entire life, it feels good to discover a mainstream match. “Turning Crimson” conjures youth in a pastel 90s wonderland with teenage heartthrobs, cuddly pink pandas and a Chinese language household’s love at its finest. It’s intimate, and it’s the primary film to really feel customized made for me and the folks I really like.