BY LUKE WATHEN
Disney’s latest animated venture “Zootopia” hit theaters on March 4 and did not hesitate to make waves. Already breaking the impressive box office records set by “Frozen,” the film is sure to go down as one of Disney’s finest.
The plot to the movie is simple enough with the same familiar Disney clichés: a talking rabbit must overcome stereotypes and prejudice to become the first rabbit police officer in Zootopia: a metropolis filled with anthropomorphic animals.
Despite its premise and fantastical nature, the movie itself may be one of Disney’s most realistic in terms of content.
Judy Hopps, the film’s bunny protagonist, is told from an early age that she will never be able to be a police officer purely because she is a rabbit. In a similar vein, another character named Nick Wilde is always the subject of distrust due to being a fox, with many callously calling him a “predator.”
This is where the film tackles reality. Although the film is set in a world of complete fantasy, the social commentary that it provides is all too applicable to modern life.
We as a society have an unfortunate tendency to attach unnecessary and often harmful labels to people who hardly deserve to be treated in such a way. These labels manifest themselves in the ugly-isms of society, namely racism and sexism.
Even though these topics are quite mature by their very nature and hardly something that children should be presented with directly, the movie’s fantasy setting does an excellent job of masking it.
Most children will be able to pick out the clear life lessons such as the dangers of stereotyping while still being captivated by the grand fantasy world of talking animals.
Adults, on the other hand, will take a much deeper look at the movie. Inevitably they will replace the word “bunny” with “woman” in regards to Judy’s struggles in the workplace and “predator” with “Muslim” when looking at the air of distrust surrounding Nick the fox.
In a sad way, the message of this movie is all too relevant. Prejudice is still alive and well in society, whether it be in the form of women making pennies on the dollar compared to men or people being deemed suspicious because of their race or religion, bigotry is still a pertinent and oft-overlooked issue.
From this sadness comes a bit of hope, however. By watching films like “Zootopia,” children can be taught early on that prejudice is often misplaced and constantly harmful.
Kudos to Disney for their handling of such a sensitive subject and hopefully they will handle serious issues like this in future films.