Zootopia: A Metaphor for Today’s Society

Try to make the world a better place. Look inside yourself and recognize that change starts with you. A little piece of advice we could all use at the moment. In the Disney animation film Zootopia (2016), a naïve Judy Hopps journeys into the big city with dreams of becoming the first rabbit police officer. She soon learns it’s a tougher job than she had expected, but is determined to prove to herself and everyone she’s up for the challenge.  Directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore, the movie stars Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, J.K. Simmons, and Jenny Slate, just to name a few. How did Disney turn a children’s animation film into a metaphor for the state of our current society? Does this film resonate more with us than it did during its initially release in 2016? YouTubers Andre from the channel Black Nerd Comedy, Doug from the channel Channel Awesome, and Ben Mankiewicz, Matt Atchity, Alonso Duralde and Christy Lemire from the channel What The Flick?!, share their reviews on the clever family film.

The timing on this is just ridiculously perfect. I think that adults should really see this movie and I definitely think kids should see this movie because it will be one of these things that they can learn early to hopefully not make the same mistakes.

A film that just “tells it like it is” and one of his most favorite Disney movies, YouTuber Andre is quite surprised by Disney’s clever way to present the social justice issues plaguing the current culture. “How did Disney know!” exclaims Andre, who praises the film for talking about these issues that even the news and other TV shows and movies are afraid to touch.

There’s elements in this movie where you see that … Zootopia is not a hunk dory everybody’s friendly with everybody type of world that you think it is … it gets really deep about diversity, it gets really deep about tolerance and how we treat other people … and the fact that they add the police element on top of that is just insane.

One of the most important scenes in the film where Judy (Ginnifer Goodwin) gives a press conference to the public and begins to insert her own theories about the incidents of predators reverting back to their savage and primitive state reveals so much about how people/animals see racism, stereotypes and prejudice. A major parallel to our currently divided, messy and restless society.

She even goes to a point where she says she thinks it’s something in the DNA of the predators that make them different from the prey, which makes them have a higher chance of turning into savage animals … a cop is telling animals that certain animals should be looked at more closely than other animals because we believe based on the type of animals they are that they have a higher chance of causing problems in world of Zootopia … wow!

YouTuber Doug from Channel Awesome also agrees and points out this scene highlights Judy’s own prejudices she didn’t even know she had: “It’s a prejudice that she is unaware of and doesn’t want to believe she ever had.” Upon first watching Zootopia, the YouTuber did enjoy the film but felt it was too obvious in its message. Now looking back, Doug finds the film does a great job in really getting deep into all aspects of racism and prejudice by analyzing why it exists, where it can be found, and how it can be used to exploit personal gain.

Like I said when I first saw it, I enjoyed it, I just thought it was hammering the nail on the head a little too hard. But with the amount of occurring crimes that seem to not understand the message of this film, it makes me realize now that it needs to hit it on the head. And it needs to do so in a way that both kids and adults can get.

Once Judy realizes her own prejudices, she begins to see little signs of microaggressions everywhere throughout the city of Zootopia and is disappointed and saddened by the world she sees. The YouTuber says the film does an excellent job in resonating with both children and adults in getting the main message across in a digestible way for everyone to understand.

Like a lot of great stories, it can speak to children on one level and speak to adults on a different level, but not just through kids jokes and adult jokes. It does so through dramatic kids themes and dramatic adults themes, making this movie about animals surprisingly very human.

A fun film from start to finish says the YouTubers from the channel What The Flick?!. YouTuber Christy mentions the film's clever dialogue in which the message never becomes too preachy or in your face, but is very simply put and forces us as a society to confront these truths about our perceptions on racism and prejudice.

It’s really honest. It could have been super didactic and preachy and heavy handed. And it makes these really truthful points over and over again and it makes us all have to acknowledge we’re all a little bit racist.

Chiming in agreement, YouTuber Matt especially enjoys how the film dabbles into the aftermath of how the animals address the issues of prejudice with the scenes of protests and both the predators and prey are seen engaging in social justice actions.

As we get deeper into the movie and we get to where we think the climax is happening then you start to get into this really troublesome, really emotionally messy part of the story where you’re dealing with the fallout of peoples prejudice and it’s amazing.

YouTuber Alonso does make a small note that the message of the film, if deeply analyzed, can be interpreted by both racists and anti-racists as affirming their own beliefs. However, in the end he does state the main overall theme of the film is a positive notion of realizing and overcoming our personal and societal biases to live in harmony with each other.

An anti-racist and a racist could both leave this movie feeling like their worldview is confirmed. Because the premise of the film is that predators used to be predators and now they’re not, but the prey who are the majority still sort of fear them or resent them because they think that deep down inside they’re still going to be predators.

All of the YouTubers give Zootopia their stamp of approval as a must watch film for the entire family.

YouTubers Andre from Black Nerd Comedy, Doug from Channel Awesome and Ben, Alonso, Matt and Christy from What The Flick?!, rate and review new movies and TV shows on their channels regularly.