I wasn’t the only one who’s jaw dropped when the parallels from our society began to unfold among animated zoo animals on the big screen right? I saw this movie tackle sexism, prejudice, racism, corruption, fear, and honestly I need to watch it again to pick up even more. Sure, at first it seems as familiar and heartwarming as every other animated Disney film predecessor, but before I knew it I was watching a rabbit struggling accomplishing her dreams and facing challenges in a way Disney has never captured before.
Judy Hopp is the movie’s main protagonist who has dreamed of becoming a cop since a young age, however, there has never been a cop as small, or frail as judged by her “prey” biology, as she in the workforce. Her first experience with prejudice as a child came from a fox who belittled her and ridiculed her dreams, and attempts to protect her friends, something I presume many children currently and adults can remember personally experiencing or recognizing. Her background as a rabbit has been stereotyped to work in the agriculture industry, so she’s consistently underestimated as she attempts to achieve her dream of becoming a police officer in the city of Zootopia (I got the N.Y. vibes) where anyone can become anybody, regardless of biology, upbringing or background.
Instead of following the mantra however of “you can be anything if you just believe,” Zootopia presents that life is a lot more complicated than that. It isn’t just a lack of self-esteem that must me tackled, it’s the world around us with all it’s diversity of people, issues and ethics that must also be faced in order to accomplish that feeling of sincere self identification. Judy Hopp becomes a police officer, top of her class, but continues to face judgements and the short end of the stick when she’s assigned her post because of not just who she is, because of what she is. I think everyone can personally take her situation and apply it a variety of ways, I’ll share mine as an example. When I saw that Judy Hopp have to work twice as hard to keep up in her police cop training, prove her worthiness as being as capable as the rest of the ‘larger’ and ‘tougher’ looking zoo animals to take on more ‘dangerous’ and ‘serious’ police assignments, I saw feminism taking place. At times, I also saw my mother as an immigrant almost twenty years ago trying to keep up with the American culture and not be seen as just an “English illiterate housewife,” when she started her career.
The rest of the movie has bountiful amounts of parallels like this that can be interpreted in many ways depending on the individual, even when the not so subtle remarks are made, such as calling a bunny “cute” isn’t okay when a different species does it…and I swear, I saw Trump give a speech in this movie, you saw it too right? Judy Hopp herself too is flawed, because she has to overcome her perceptions and stereotypes of the movies second sly and charming fox protagonist, Nick Wilde. This fox shed light to his motto of an acceptance we’ve all heard or thought before too, “If the world’s only gonna see a fox as shifty and untrustworthy, there’s no point trying to be anything else,” he says. Then, in a world where prey and predator, herbivores and carnivores, big and small, furry and scaley, winged or not animals have evolved and can co-exist with one another suddenly face a conflicting shift where a particular kind of animal is more susceptible to committing an act that could endanger others (drugs? violence? assault? all the above?) results in fear, stereotypes, ignorance and prejudice; Judy Hopp has to figure out how to fix it, by analyzing and discovering why these issues it started in the first place. I know I heard “go back where you came from!” in there.
This film is brilliant in all of its methods of presenting racial profiling, the effects of ignorance, and present-day discrimination; but not short on the fun, humorous, smart and clever presentation of it all either. I don’t think I’ve laughed or have been amused this much at a Disney film, or frankly any film in 2016 so far, as much as Zootopia. I left the theater wanting a stuffed animal of every creature in the film. They used their cellphones, facetimed parents, listened to music, had cute human jobs and wore human clothes guys, were so beautifully animated and developed that I wanted to jump right into the screen and be a part of it all; but wait a minute, I am! My heart strings were torn, I think I teared up twice, I was shocked at the twists, in love with the Shakira original movie soundtrack hit, and want to watch it over and over again.
The moral at the end that I picked up was that empathy, an open mind and an understanding of the world and each other one of the most important things you an individual can develop to co-exist fruitfully with others, and themselves. I am really grateful Zootopia is the movie that it is for children, and to be enjoyed just as much if not more so by their parents, and us college students who will forever have a soft spot for anything relating to Disney. Check out this movie if you haven’t already, and admire it for going where no mainstream animated comedy film has gone before.