I enjoy movies just as much as the next Joe Schmoe. I have a Netflix subscription, know the release dates for the next blockbuster (Superman v. Batman, March 25th!), enjoy 80s movies, know all the lines to Mean Girls, read the plots to horror films, and stay up late to watch award shows. I’d say that makes an official-mcticial movie critic. However, as much as I love a good movie, I’ve become extremely analytical; for example, I count the people of color and examine the dialogue between women. It doesn’t stop me from enjoying a movie, expect for Pitch Perfect 2, but I take a moment to consider the message within films.
A recent film that caught my attention is Disney’s Zootopia. This movie had clear messages of both women rights and discrimination. Let’s discuss! Oh, yea. Some spoilers.
The movie follows Judy Hopps, a country bunny with big dreams to make the world a better place by becoming Zootopia’s first rabbit police officer. Although she is encouraged to forget her dreams and take up carrot husbandry by her parents and peers, her unwavering determination and hard work (plus the Mammal Inclusion Initiative) pay off when she graduates top of her class in the police academy. However, throughout the movie, Judy is constantly undermined, assigned the mediocre task of a meter maid, and is often referred to as “cute” and a “dumb bunny” due to her smaller stature, non-vicious demeanor, and rural upbringing.
You see, Judy’s journey parallels women who are trailblazers in any field — women who challenge the norm and command respect. Her story reminds me of Katie Wilder, the first female Green Barret. Get it, girls!
Discrimination and Prejudice
The movie opens with a scene of a vicious leopard perusing a small bunny. The narrator, Judy, explains that in the past, predators survived from their vicious, biological tendencies to prey on small mammals but have evolved to live in harmony with prey. Did you notice the wording? It suggests that predators have a biological trait that causes them to maim and kill. Remember this, it’s a movie with a message.
As Judy prepares to embark for Zootopia, her parents present her with a goodie bag full of fox repellent and reminds Judy of her terrible encounter with her childhood bully, the fox Gideon Grey. According to Judy’s parents, all foxes, weasels, and bears are untrustworthy and dangerous. This doesn’t sound like small-minded advice, right?
On her first day as a meter maid, Judy is skeptical of the red fox, Nick Wilde, entering an ice cream parlor and after a brief encounter, she ignorantly praises him for being “articulate.” Prior to this scene, the ice cream parlor denies service to Nick, via the right-to-refuse-service sign, for no other reason than he’s a fox. I’m sure you understand the message of this film.
I won’t spoil the film, but there are many examples that address discrimination and prejudice, and it amazes me that Disney and its storytellers wrote a compelling story on real issues in order to help mold the minds of children and serve as a reminder for adults
I believe Zootopia has redeemed Disney from Song of the South, the movie that inspired the attraction Splash Mountain, so I suggest you run, not walk to the theaters.