How Going Red Saves Boy Bands From Gender Stereotypes

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The director of Pixar’s upcoming film, Turning Red, said treating the film’s fictional boy band with seriousness and respect was “a huge deal” for her.

Domee Shi, the director of the next Pixar film turn redreveals that although the main character is a teenage girl in love with a boy band, the film goes out of its way to avoid the usual gendered criticism aimed at idol groups.

“I wanted to portray boy bands, pay homage to them and make them a big part of Mei’s life story, because for a lot of teenage girls and boys, [a boy band was] their first musical obsession,” Shi told Polygon. “It was just a cornerstone of their lives, growing up, developing those feelings, and trying to figure out where all those emotions are coming from.”


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Boy bands are often criticized because their fans are largely teenage girls. Shi wanted to make sure that the boy band created for turn red was treated well during development and avoided any gender stereotypes. “I remember kicking off the entertainers for the boy band members, and my one note that I kept repeating was, ‘Don’t overdo it, like Chippendales, like they’re were doing the Blue Steel thing. In fact, try to seduce me with their expressions,” Shi recalled.

Getting the right look for the boy band members took research and a lot of thought. For Shi, it was a task of great importance. “Let’s take this seriously: what do the eyes in the bedroom look like? Let’s google this. Let’s make sure we can act like we’re Mei, and if we see this picture, we’ll fall in love with these boys. We have to take this as seriously as possible,” Shi explained. “It’s a huge deal for me.”


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The boy band of turn red is called 4*Town, and Pixar was able to enlist Billie Ellish and her writing partner/brother, Finneas, to bring their songs to life. Producer Lindsay Collins explained that the turn red The team were big fans of Ellish. “We sat down with them and pitched this crazy idea of ​​a boy band to them, asking them if they would be interested in writing and producing the songs. They were!” said Collins.

turn red tells the story of Mei Lee, a 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian who turns into a fluffy red panda whenever she feels too emotional or excited. The film was originally meant to be released theatrically, but Pixar owners Disney called for it to be released on Disney+ instead. “It’s safe to say that we’re all extremely disappointed,” a Pixar staffer said of the decision.


turn red premieres on Disney+ on March 11.

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Source: Polygon

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