There is a heated debate surrounding Disney Pixar’s latest animated feature Turning Red, a cartoon about a 13 y.o. girl who magically transforms into a red panda [1A].
Many critics have praised the film, calling it a celebration of teen girls [1B]. Others view it as a narrative on intergenerational trauma [1C]. Still others see the film as demonic .
Plot Line of Turning Red
Mei’s mother expects her to work in the family temple which honors the red panda. With puberty, Mei begins turning into a red panda, herself, whenever she experiences strong emotion. She learns this problem has plagued the family for generations. According to Mei’s mother, the cure is a ritual which buries happiness and passion, along with anger and fear.
Intergenerational trauma is a concept used to explain how the traumatic effects of a historical event may be passed from one generation to the next .
Despite having survived a Nazi concentration camp, a grandmother who coped there by repressing her emotions may remain distant from her family for decades afterwards. This will impact not only her children, but their children, and so on. Generations of denial, emotional distance, and defensive behavior can result.
Intergenerational trauma is associated with rape, sexual abuse, murder and other forms of severe trauma. It can be passed on even if the trauma is never identified by name or discussed with family members.
Victims often attempt to deal with such trauma either by denying it ever took place, or denying to themselves and others it has had any substantial effect. Their behavior is, nonetheless, altered.
Some use drugs and/or alcohol to deaden their pain. Others lash out when subsequent events trigger suppressed emotions.
Parents suffering from PTSD or anxiety may have difficulty modeling a healthy sense of identity, and teaching a child less self-destructive coping mechanisms.
There are some who hold that generational curses (guilt accumulated from our predecessors) are responsible for everything from obesity and business failure, to illness, poverty, violence, and death. This though is a distortion of Scripture .
The Bible does make mention of “visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations”. See, Ex. 20: 5-6 and 34: 67; Num. 14: 18; and Deut. 5: 9-10. This refers to situations like domestic violence in which the sins of one generation are repeated by (or continue to inflict harm on) the next.
We are each accountable for our own actions – not the actions of our forebearers. We are saved by grace, once and for all, through the death and Resurrection of Christ.
Demonic Aspects of Turning Red
On the face of it, Turning Red may appear charming. From a Christian viewpoint, however, there are demonic aspects to the film.
For one thing, Turning Red includes ancestor worship. The Bible strictly prohibits communication with the dead (Lev. 19: 13). There is a nightmare sequence in the film which suggests demonic possession, and a ritual scene which references sorcery (likewise prohibited by the Bible). See, Deut. 18: 11-12.
Apart from this, there are throwaway lines like “my panda, my choice” (a play on the well-known pro-choice slogan “my body, my choice”) which could easily begin the indoctrination of children on issues wholly unrelated to the film [2B].
“I think what happens is we’re so desensitized that, over time, things that used to be offensive to Christians, unfortunately, I think that we’ve become accepting of them.”
-Pastor Mike Signorelli, V1 Church [2C]
Perhaps more than anything else, what this debate concerning Turning Red drives home is the necessity for careful supervision of the entertainment to which our children are daily exposed.
Essential to that is discernment, the ability to determine whether a thing is good or evil.
Our capacity to make an accurate assessment of the moral influence a person, activity, or course of action will have on us or our children is a gift of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12: 10). And we can always ask God for more of the gift .
“Teach me good discernment and knowledge, For I believe Your commandments” (Ps. 119: 66 NASB).
[1A, 1B, and 1C] Vox, “Pixar’s ‘Turning Red’ is an unlikely cultural battleground” by Aja Romano, 3/17/22, https://www.vox.com/culture/22981394/turning-red-reviews-controversy-reactions-parents.
[2A, 2B, and 2C] CBN News, Faithwire, Entertainment, “‘Is It Demonic?’ Pastor’s Warning about Disney Pixar’s New Film ‘Turning Red’” by Billy Hallowell, 3/18/22, https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/entertainment/2022/march/is-it-demonic-pastors-warning-about-disney-pixars-new-film-turning-red.
 Duke University, Office of Institutional Equity, “Inter-Generational Trauma: 6 Ways It Affects Families” by Fabiana Franco, 4/21/20, https://oie.duke.edu/inter-generational-trauma-6-ways-it-affects-families.
 Psychiatric Times, Vol. 20, No. 4, “Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma: An Introduction for the Clinician” by Charles Portney MD, 4/1/003, https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/intergenerational-transmission-trauma-introduction-clinician.
 Bible Unplugged, “Generational Curses: The Sins of Generational Curse” by Dr. Wave Nunnally, 2007, https://wavenunnally.com/2020/08/19/generational-curses-the-sins-of-generational-curse/.
 Glendale Star, “Do you have enough discernment to ask for discernment?” by Pastor Ed Delph, 1/1/19, https://www.glendalestar.com/community/religion/article_00317f00-fb4a-11e9-a418-ef1d05d57d69.html.
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