As with many families, a trip to the movies is a rare event for the Hudson household. It’s tough to schedule. It can be prohibitively expensive. And there just aren’t that many films that we can take a two year old to that prove entertaining for the whole family. We trust certain brands though. Pixar is good. Disney Animation is another.
The latter has a new release out called Zootopia. The advertised premise is pretty straightforward and innocuous. Animals talk, walk on two legs, and cohabitate peacefully in a vast metropolis. Judy Hopps is the world’s first rabbit police officer, eager to make her mark. A case ties her fate to fox and con man Nick Wilde. Hilarity ensues.
What was wisely not advertised in the film’s marketing campaign is its heavy-handed moralizing about racism and bigotry. The real story of the film is about a political plot to portray predator animals as inherently vicious and untrustworthy so that fear will keep a cabal of prey animals in power.
The message isn’t entirely without merit. Bigotry is certainly a negative force which should be opposed. However, no distinction is made in the film between bigotry and the recognition of legitimate differences. The moral of the story is that “anyone can be anything.” It’s meant in both the occupational and metaphysical sense. The film literally rejects biology, promoting the notion that how people identify should define how they are regarded in spite of what they actually are. At one point, a young canine’s desire to grow up and become an elephant is treated as healthy and valid. The allusion to real-world trans issues is obvious.
Such messaging shouldn’t necessarily keep you from seeing the film or taking your kids. The deeper philosophical stuff will probably go over kids’ heads, and you can confidently discuss the issues with older children. But you should know what you’re getting into before you go.