To State, or To Interpret

Remember how I wondered if the obviousness of the thematic connection between Encanto and its preceding short film “Far From the Tree” made things too easy on the audience? 

Well, at least that relationship required inquiring minds to detect for themselves the shared theme between the two!

Disney’s at it again, but this time, they’ve made it even easier on audiences.

Turning Red begins with a contextless voiceover from the main character, during which she LITERALLY STATES ONE OF THE MOVIE’S PRIMARY THEMES, about how kids should balance adhering to the experienced desires of their family’s older generations, while also forging a slightly different path for themselves.

I mean, first off, THIS IS THE EXACT SAME THEME AS BOTH ENCANTO AND “FAR FROM THE TREE” (a title that basically describes the theme)!!! But this recycling isn’t a sin in itself; art has always re-dabbled in similar themes.

My questions lies in their means of expression and exploration. At no point in Turning Red is the bookending voiceover (never a good sign) dramaturgically justified. Rather, it ultimately feels like a cheap device to clearly communicate to the audience the information and ideas that the writers wish to impart.

Now, you might say, “But Steven! It’s a movie intended for tykes! Turning Red could be their introduction to the concept of artistic themes! It’s designed to be straightforward!”

Which is a fair argument. But let me throw a wrench into the debate: is this brand of blatant thematic exposition a gateway drug for deeper consideration of art, or does it transform young audiences into lazy addicts for life. addicted to any and all depth being handed to them on a silver platter? Isn’t there value in conditioning kids to think deeper from an early age?

Of course, all sorts of artistic approaches are welcome and warranted and necessary…but in which direction should more art try to lean, especially given the scale of Disney’s influential reach?

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