Turning Red: Devon’s virality, controversy, and Billie Eilish

Turning Red is the 2022 controversially themed Disney Pixar animated film which introduced the now viral Devon, and “featured Billie Eilish.”

Disney Pixar is always promoting themes with an unconventional take on children animated films in an effort to push boundaries, which is a notable distinction between the animation studio and its sister animation studio, the Disney brand.

Turning Red is the animation studio’s latest release which was received with polarised reactions in light of the theme of the film. However, it has also struck social media gold with one of its minor characters, Devon, as the e-boy teenager has gone viral.

Moreover, we will discuss other facts about the film like the fact that Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas produced the title tracks of the film.

What is Turning Red?

Turning Red first premiered in February 2022 and was produced by Disney Pixar. The film was directed by Domee Shi, who is also the co-writer of the film along with Julia Cho and Sarah Streicher.

Set in Toronto, the premise of the film is, “A 13-year-old girl named Meilin turns into a giant red panda whenever she gets too excited.” The Chinese Canadian teenager is voiced by Rosalie Chiang, with acclaimed actress Sandra Oh voicing her overprotective mother, Ming Lee.

The film is a coming-of-age story, more pointedly, it speaks to the transition to “womanhood” as teenager, Meilin, has her first menstrual cycle.

Turning Red: Devon’s virality, controversy, and Billie Eilish

One of the surprising aftermaths of the film is how minor character, Devon, has since gone viral on TikTok. Devon, in the film, was voiced by Addison Chandler. In the film he is introduced as the crush of Mei’s 4*Town posse and best friend group, Miriam, Jin, Abby, and Priya.

Devon is a 17-year-old teenager who works at the local convenience store. His outward appearance is that of an “e-boy” as he is apathetic, overworked, and said to only survive on Ramen noodles.

Moreover, it was with his scene that the film kicked into action as Mei did not initially have a crush on Devon, but after hearing her friends swoon over him, she also developed a crush which resulted in her mother confronting Devon – Mei’s biggest embarrassment and the beginning of the second act of the film.

Thereafter, the character appears sporadically in the film. However, it is the last scene he appears in that shocks fans as it is revealed that he, too, is a fan of the film’s pop group, 4*Town.

Turning Red’s Devon becomes a TikTok hit

One of the viral characters from the animated film Turning Red is minor character, Devon. It is presumably due to how his characterisation captures a common teenage iconography.

Initially, it stemmed from the rise of the late 2000s into early 2010s “emo phase” where teenagers wore black clothes and eyeliner.

The popularity of anime and the rise of the aloof anti-hero who did not need to be in all black then transitioned to the rise of the “e-kid,” and Devon is an e-boy which has inspired not only calls for a Devon spin-off and fanart, but also actual teenagers creating live-action versions of Devon on TikTok.

Turning Red faces backlash over its theme

Turning Red is a coming-of-age story which is aimed at destigmatising the shame attached to girls experiencing their first menstrual cycle, as they transition into adolescence.

While the intention of the film might have been noble, the response from some parents did not appreciate this intention.

Much of the backlash suggested that the film was not child-friendly due to the main theme of the film. However, the film is PG rated, which highlights that parental guidance is important.

As such, the aim of the film was not just to entertain with a message of familial, platonic, or self-love, but to provide parents with a film text which can help pivot the conversation of puberty and remove the shame from menstruation.

Fun Fact: Billie Eilish is part of Turning Red

One fun fact you may not know if you have watched Turning Red, but not the closing credits of the film, is that Billie Eilish is part of the film.

Although not a voice or a character in the animation, Eilish and her brother and music producer, Finneas, were behind three of the songs in the film including its title track, Nobody Like U.

Furthermore, while Eilish did not have a role in the film, her brother interestingly featured as one of the boy band members of 4*Town, as Jesse.

Final thoughts

Turning Red is the February 2022 release Disney Pixar animated film which aims to remove the stigma surrounding a female adolescent’s first time experiencing their menstrual cycle. This theme polarised parents regarding whether the film was child-friendly or not.

Moreover, additionally to featuring the main and title character, Meilin, a 13-year-old Chinese Canadian confident nerd, it also gave social media the now viral character, Devon, who has spawned actual impersonations on TikTok, along with a growing fanbase.