Blog Post 57
Image from: http://i.imgur.com/VQCfAsu.gif

Disney’s new Pixar film, Zootopia, centers on the story of Judy Hopps, an idealistic “bunny” who dreams of being in law enforcement, to make the world a better place. The only problem: No bunny has ever become a police officer, because the world is divided into predator and prey, both of which have put aside their biological differences in an attempt to live in harmony.

Judy graduates at the top of her class from the police academy and ends up on “the force” in Zootopia, but she is relegated to parking-ticket duty while other officers investigate 14 missing-mammal cases. Throughout the movie, Judy is constantly underestimated and marginalized on the assumption that, because bunnies are small and defenseless creatures, they can never become good police officers. Judy may be a minority in her workplace, however, she belongs to the majority culture of Zootopia in another way: She’s “prey.” Just as in the animal kingdom, the city is 90 percent prey and 10 percent predators, hence, in this context, Judy and other prey-animals have a lot of unexamined presumptions about the predators in their midst, like the accepted notion that foxes are sneaky, selfish, and cunning.

Nick Wilde, a fox whom Judy meets in the city, empathizes with how she feels. As a nine-year-old pup, he wanted to be in the Boy Scouts. But when Nick showed up to his first meeting, the other members threw a muzzle on him, explaining that they would never let a “predator” join their group. “If the world’s only gonna see a fox as shifty and untrustworthy, there’s no point trying to be anything else,” he explains. Subsequently, Nick became a hustler, selling secondhand popsicles on the street for a living. Both Nick and Judy appear to epitomize the social outcast group, despite the fact that, for classification purposes, they belong to opposing sides of predator-prey divide.

Zootopia is a movie about adapting to challenges and coming together to advance toward the same goal, a topic that is very relevant today. The film’s underlying themes of prejudice, racism, and social stigma are exemplified when Nick is condescendingly referred to as “articulate,” a veiled reference to commentary on how “well-spoken” President Barack Obama is. Another example is when Judy warns Nick never to touch a sheep’s wool without asking, nodding to an old adage about black hair. Humorously, the Zootopia DMV is staffed entirely by slow-moving sloths.

Having such a diverse community also means having a varied environment, because animals have different needs. Zootopia is split into different sectors: big-city Savanna Central, miniature Little Rodentia, clearly cold Tundratown, and jungly Rainforest District, just to name a few.

Many liken Zootopia’s antagonist, who manipulates the public biases against a minority for her own political gain, to presidential candidate Donald Trump, but that can only be coincidental. Nevertheless, Zootopia itself seems explicitly America—a place where “anything can be anything” and can achieve anything (it sounds like the American dream) – and that the strife-filled history between predators and prey can easily be mapped onto black/white relations in America.

Zootopia conveys a message rarely heard in movies for children: Getting exactly what you hoped for isn’t the end of the journey. It’s only the beginning of the hard work of becoming the best, most open-minded bunny you can be.

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