BrianPansky Wiki

Zootopia might not take the political stance that you think it does.  I think the movie makes the most sense if viewed as mockery and contempt for social justice activists, but with enough lip service to (apparently) sneak it under their very noses.

The main points

  • In this movie the police heroes abuse their power routinely, bunny threatens to falsely testify against fox ("additional blackmail"), and this is hunky dory.  And even together with the mafia, our “heroes” threaten someone with death to get the answers they want (or is it just Waterboarding, not lethal? Whatever).  No way that could go wrong!  What is this, 24 with Jack Bauer?
  • Two opposing government conspiracies in the same story?  Yet, somehow, both conspiracies seem to point in the same direction:  in our real world, both of them are the kinds of conspiracy theories that paranoid anti-social-justice people would believe in:
    • 1) people hide evidence of biological differences, even when they are dangerous
    • 2) people falsely create evidence of oppression by using False Flag Operations, to gain power! Hmm.

Though that doesn’t mean we should cheer for the villain.  Using False Flag Operations is still villainy that we should despise.  And, as the main character does, we should strive for some kind of harmony (something like Meta-Utopia is one way to do that) even if there were extreme biological differences, and even if there are a few dangerous people in a group.

It’s a bit of a mixed bag.  Some of those issues are only troubling because of the real world context we find ourselves in.

A few personal notes

  • disappointed it was all mammals!  I wanted reptiles and such!
  • The different climates in Zootopia reminded me of a Meta-Utopia!  :)
  • The movie suffers from Convoluted Blockbuster Syndrome.
  • random musing: I wonder how a comparison of this movie's contrivances and twists would compare to the movie Exam (2009)?

Other points to maybe consider

  • “kid fox wants to be an elephant” seems very pointed at transness.  Though (somewhat realistically, because it isn't actually about gender) it turns out to be a “troll”, not sincere.
  • rabbits breed like rabbits, sloths move slow, and wolves can't even stop themselves from howling because it's so hard wired into them
  • The main theme is bunny’s dreams/aspirations I guess.  For a while, that was captivating me a bit, since that tension between hope for dreams and despair is where I find myself a lot.  But the movie just seems to say “Lean In!” I think?
  • And those damn cell phone apps these days!  Making the police front desk person distracted, har har.
  • And I was even put a bit off by how extremely they portrayed the hippie guy at the nudist place.  Gotta put LOTS AND LOTS of flies around his hair!  Make sure everyone feels that CRINGE!
  • a plant-based chemical turns normal people into savages.  Reefer Madness?  We also see them growing it in a secret drug lab.
  • the fox gets flashbacks to his childhood trauma (of being treated like a dangerous savage when he wasn’t) while looking at images of an animal that actually was dangerous and savage
  • The pro-tolerance protests started by the celebrity singer seem to run counter to reason, because aren’t the facts clear that there is a SUDDEN EPIDEMIC that is hurting prey?  I guess you could argue that the epidemic is still statistically very small, maybe not worthy of such concern? Anyways, I think it's sensible to suspect that the writers actually wanted the audience to "feel" that the protests are clueless or something.*
  • When “biology” is used as an explanation, it’s set up as a plausible explanation that the audience should at least consider (and the one who seems incredulous at first is a huge lion authority figure who is at that moment using his physical intimidation to silence the biology hypothesis, clearly the audience is supposed to be against him).  Remember, inner biological instincts were mentioned in the opening exposition of the movie.  If they wanted us to think that Judy was jumping to conclusions based on prejudice, not science, they should have made it clear before she said it. I think the writers intentionally wanted this to be unclear.

On those last two points, it almost seems like this facet of the story is crafted precisely as a thought experiment.  It’s like the writers are using the method that the main character from “The Illusionist” uses when getting the authority guy to try to lift the sword.  They hold it just long enough to get people watching the movie uncomfortable, then let it go.

Some "balance" of views?

  • bunny does face institutional prejudice and mistreatment
  • I can't quite recall, but I think fox was sort of socially forced into his unsavory role, precisely because that's what people assumed he was? (I'll need to check). If so, that's some interesting social causality, and a good reason to question "biology hypotheses" for demographic trends.
  • similarly, merely mentioning the "biology hypothesis" seems to give the guy at the start a feeling of justification for intimidating young bunny, so ideas sort-of are shown to have impact on people's actions
  • the innocent predators are treated as dangerous during the epidemic scare, and the audience can sympathize with them...though the fears of the prey also seem to be given justification