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Zootopia: Utopia or Dystopia?

Children's movie digs deeper into reality

Madison Young, Copy Editor

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Hopping into theatres and the hearts of people everywhere, Zootopia premiered in theatres February 16. This heartwarming tale brought smiles to the faces of parents and children all across the country with its cute characters and interesting “Whodunit?” plotline.

The story follows Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), a bunny who dreams of becoming a police officer in the capital city, Zootopia, a place where anybunny can be anyone. As the first bunny to enter the force, Judy faces a lot of skepticism and fights to be recognized amongst the other officers, primarily larger animals such as lions, tigers, and bears (oh, my!). She accidentally stumbles onto a case involving fourteen missing predators, and finds a conspiracy reaching to the very top of society to turn predators into savage beasts. Julie teams up with con man Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a smooth-talking fox with a cynical view of the world, to discover the truth about Zootopia and prove that a bunny and a fox can work together and make a difference in the world.

The movie offers a variety of entertainment, including a cameo by Tommy Chong, a Godfather reference, and the song “Try Everything” by Shakira, who plays Gazelle, Zootopia’s premiere pop star. Featuring laughs for all age groups, Zootopia offers audiences around the world a unique story guaranteed to make anyone and everyone smile.

Underneath its fluffy exterior, Zootopia discusses a range of social issues, including social minorities, political corruptness, and drug use. Predators, the one being affected by a substance made from flowers called Night Howlers, represent only 10 percent of the population in Zootopia. These animals are shunned by society, and feared by all, as they continue to “go savage,” a term used to describe an animal that becomes super aggressive and primitive. The use of a very concentrated form of Night Howlers to accomplish this is reminiscent of drug usage, even more prominent from the Breaking Bad reference in the movie. Instantly, every predator was seen as a threat and a problem to society. Even the mayor (a lion) was put in prison under suspicion for causing the other predators to “go savage,” leading to Bellweather, a sheep who supported Judy from the beginning, to become mayor. The movie also features pop stars, “naturalist” clubs, stereotypes, sexism, and a variety of allegorical topics centering on today’s society.

In theory, Zootopia features animals evolved past their primitive roots and live together in harmony, though some stereotypes remain, such as the DMV being appropriately staffed by sloths. Unlike her 225 brothers and sisters, Judy is determined to succeed, despite doubt from everyone in her town, including her own parents. While the overall message of the movie was meant to convey hope and belief in dreams, Judy’s parents provide a perfect foil to this, telling her that dreams are fine, as long as she doesn’t actually believe in them. This was the only disappointment in a movie that otherwise provides a wonderful social message about major social issues and progressive thinking.

Like in many TV shows and movies, Judy’s parents are portrayed as dumb and insensitive to her dreams, pleading that she give up, and then later overjoyed at finding out that Judy was given the position of meter maid, because it meant that, “She’s not a real cop!” This disturbing corrosion of family values reflects the thought (recurring in shows such as The Fairly Oddparents, Danny Phantom, The Amazing World of Gumball, etc.) that parents are simply not respected anymore. Adults are seen as the enemy, and it is up to the youth to correct them. Zootopia covers a variety of social problems, but seems to turn a blind eye to perhaps the most important one: family.

Zootopia is a cute, cuddly movie that teaches kids to accept everyone and believe in their dreams while acting as an allegory for today’s social issues. Filled with laughs and a compelling mystery, this movie is a wonderful addition to the Disney family, despite some level of disappointment regarding family issues. Bulldogtimes.org rates this movie four out of five paws.


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Zootopia: Utopia or Dystopia?