This past week, Disney’s latest feature film Zootopia was released, and has been met with relative success. Though the studio is known for finding success in nearly everything they put out, Zootopia has made a name for itself in being so different from other Disney films.
There is a common narrative that has been expected from the studio that is so engrained in pop culture that Disney nearly has a monopoly on its use, this being the ever-popular princess movie. This is the typical fairytale story, and it is the complete separation from this that many say is what they truly appreciated about this film.
The main character of the feature is a rabbit who is driven to leave her family business and become a police officer, which is typically exclusively for “predators.” This is part of the terminology that is used throughout the film to frame the underlying commentary which is what is drawing attention right now.
The morale of the story is the damaging nature of stereotypes and uses a typically racial language to make their point. This films makes jokes using racial stereotypes while subverting them in the form of different species of animals. The world of Zootopia is built to resemble a modern day American city, and includes all of the experiences one would get in this environment.
In one case the main character is called cute, and appears offended stating that only other rabbits can call each other cute. It is language like this that draws one to automatically think of racial conversation, yet it is covered by a veneer of typical Disney visuals. In the end the message is transcending social stereotypes which are an important message, and it has seen success with both children and their parents.
Aside from the morale of the movie, there was also a lot of lighthearted joking that seemed to come from the studio itself. Many have touted the film as one of Disney’s most Easter-egg heavy film which is a tough record to break with the studio loving to hint to future projects and include nostalgic items from past ones. There were many scenes throughout the film that held little hints to future films such as the greatly anticipated Frozen 2, as well as a scene that has the magic lamp from Aladdin on a shelf of a nudist colony.
There was also a hidden reference to the beloved characters from Breaking Bad characters Walter and Jesse being portrayed by goats in a shady lab setting in which the chemical weapons that play a main part in the film are being made. Zootopia is a complex film that plays to all ages and offers a beginning point for this important conversation of stereotypes and one’s ability to ascend past them for kids.