Zootopia is a metropolis unlike one you’ve ever seen before. In this world, the terms “predators” and “prey” no longer exist and all the animals can live in harmony. But can anyone ever really live in harmony? There will always be bias towards predators and prey. Not only does the movie send a message about stereotypes and racial equality, but also gender equality. You may be watching animals, but the movie is really an insightful commentary on human nature.
Judy Hopps is a bunny that has lived in The Burrows her whole life. Her mother and father are honorable carrot farmers, with the occasional fruits here and there. Ever since she was little she has dreamed of becoming the first bunny police officer, not usually a profession of an animal her size. After much mental and physical perseverance, she graduates from the academy and leaves her parents and hundreds of brothers and sister (they are bunnies after all) and moves to Zootopia. To her dismay, she is not taken seriously at the Zootopia Police Department (ZPD) and is assigned the job of meter maid.
Judy struggles with being taken seriously in her profession, which represents a larger message of women getting recognized in the workforce. Although Judy Hopps is equally qualified and even more passionate than any other male police officer, she is discriminated against because of her size and species. They say she is too small, too weak, and too emotional.
In an interview with Byron Howard, the director of Zootopia, conducted by io9, Howard states that as of 2014, the main lead was originally meant to be played by the cartoon character Nick Wilde. Nick Wilde is a sly red fox who, according to the director, already had a bias of Zootopia because he knows the corruption the city possesses and views it as a broken world. Howard claims that this was the reason for the switch: “The character that’s going to help us tell [the message about bias] is Judy, an innocent, [who comes] from a very supportive environment where she thinks everyone is beautiful, everyone gets along.”
However, would Disney portray a male bunny the same way? Was the bias that Judy faced throughout the movie really because she was a bunny or because she was a female?
Katie McAdam, a senior, claims that she thinks the message of Zootopia was simple: “Don’t discriminate against people who are different.”
Even though gender inequality might not have been Disney’s intentional message, it still has an underlying presence throughout the movie. Judy Hopps continuously attempts to prove herself throughout the entire movie. This is a particularly timely theme as April 13 was Equal Pay Day. Women have an ongoing struggle for equality in society, but this is not a new realization in today’s day and age.
Judy Hopps perseveres and manages to prove herself with the help of a predator, Nick, who later becomes her friend. Although this Disney movie, as expected, ends with a cliché, the animation and concept of the movie is what makes it worth the watch.
Check out the trailer here!