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“Zootopia”: Children’s Entertainment or Social Commentary?

Kemmy Jeune, Staff Writer

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Zootopia

When I walked into the movie theater on March 4, I was expecting to watch a Disney movie about a bunny cop hoping to fulfill her dreams of becoming a big city officer in the city of Zootopia, where mammal and prey live in harmony. Little did I know that this movie is about much more than a small town bunny saving the day.

*SPOILER ALERT*

Zootopia is a world inhabited exclusively by animals; it is split up into five boroughs, Tundratown, Sahara Square, Bunnyborrow, Little Rodentia, and The Rainforrest District. Zootopia is also inhabited by two groups: the predators (animals such as lions, hippos, tigers and foxes.) and the prey (rodents bunnies, and sheep)

When the movie opens, we meet Judy Hopps, a small town bunny  with aspirations of joining the elite force that is the Zootopia police department. After passing the test at the academy Judy becomes an overnight celebrity as the first “prey” to join the police force. Worried for her safety, her parents give her “Predator Repellent”….. although animals live in presumed “harmony.”

While on her first job Judy meets a fox named Nick Wilde. She assumes that he is a bad animal for the sole reason that he is a fox; being dangerous and violent is in his DNA.

Throughout the movie Judy and Nick try to solve the biggest case in Zootopia history: Why are all predators attacking prey and where are they disappearing to? Mayor Lionheart, a predator himself, is being put under pressure to resign because the public does not think a predator should be in charge.

As a 17 year old, I was not particularly interested in watching the movie for merely the cute furry animals, or the side jokes. Instead, I began to wonder whether or not Disney is showing historical American problems in animated form?

Why are “predators” being targeted as a sudden danger? Why do the drugs only affect predators? Does “harmony” really mean that everyone lives in peace and understanding? Shouldn’t all animal lives matter? Have the “prey” always felt unsafe or is it a new feeling?

While pondering these questions I didn’t notice the credits were rolling or that my sister and her friends were already standing to leave. I was left in awe. During the drive home all I could think about was whether or not Disney tried to make a political statement. There was an elephants only ice cream shop, and Nick Wilde could not get one because he does not fit the bill. Judy has to come in an explain that bigotry has no home in Zootopia. The list goes on…

To many, “Zootopia” is a movie about a girl chasing her dreams , but I suspect that it is about far more; an animated way of saying that no matter where you go in life, you will always be faced with discrimination.

“Zootopia” is still in theaters.  Entertainment, social commentary, or both?  You be the judge.

 

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