BLINDED TRIALS: Zootopia, che cozz?
HOWEVER. I am here neither to sing its praises nor bemoan its shortcomings qua entertainment. I am here to write of its morality. It means to be taken very seriously as a message to the audience of the evils institutional racism. Not as self-serious as Crash, but maybe only a few frames shy.
Briefly, in the city of Zootopia, all animals have shed their species’ genetic destiny to become the animal they wish to be. We follow bunny protagonist, Judy Hopps, as she defies expectations that she farm. She becomes the first bunny cop. Both explicitly and implicitly, though, the characters clearly have not shed their beliefs that anatomy is destiny – exhibiting their damaging prejudices against other species and groups of species (e.g., foxes are seen as sly, prey distrust predators).
It’s a much more clever and subtle message movie than Crash, actually. (Not that that’s difficult. And not that any movie, even children’s movies, need be a message movie.) It has a very nuanced understanding of the ways bias keeps an animal down in the world. The species do not, with one glaring exception which will be discussed below, strictly correspond to any one human ethnic group or race. There are, though, moments, experienced by the animals that recall human biases – one animal is complimented for being “articulate.”