Updated: Aug 30, 2020
By Wong Yoke Ting (19J10), Chin Xinyi (20J17) & Yeoh Jun Lynn (20J17)
This is the second of our seven-part series called To See Or Not To See, in which we review some of our favourite films that deserve revisiting, especially in a time when it's best for us to stay at home.
Zootopia is a show about a rabbit, Judy Hopps, achieving her dreams of becoming a police officer. Being the first rabbit cop there was, she was determined to prove herself, hoping that she would succeed in making a significant change to Zootopia - a city she admired greatly and dreamed of living in ever since she was young. Given the chance, she “hopped” straight into solving a case involving the disappearance of Emmett Otterton, the 15th victim of a mystery case. Partnering with Nick Wilde, a con-artist fox, they worked together to uncover the truth behind the conspiracy leading to savage predators.
So… What Was So Good About This Film?
This film was a major hit when it was first released. Many rushed to the cinema to catch a glimpse of the movie. So what made this film so successful? Well, it seamlessly weaved important messages into its story, complemented with great humour, cute animations and memorable characters. Here are some of the important messages it contained:
#1: Inspiring people to change for the better
At the start of the movie, Nick was an infamous con-artist. He has been one ever since he was 12, committing crimes such as lying, scamming and tax evasion. However, the truth is that Nick wanted to be a boy scout when he was younger. Because foxes are generally believed to be crafty and untrustworthy, he was bullied and deemed unsuited to be a boy scout which was all about honour. So he turned to a life of crime, thinking that it was the only way he could use his craftiness. As the movie progresses, he works together with Judy to uncover the case and realises that he has the potential to be someone better, rising above the prejudice and stereotypes. Thus, he changed, eventually becoming a police officer at the end of the movie.
Similarly, Gideon Grey, a childhood friend of Judy’s, used to bully and look down on her. However, towards the end of the movie, we see that he has changed. He became a pie supplier, and worked with her family, no longer thinking of rabbits as beneath him. He sincerely apologised to Judy for his past behaviour, and asked for her forgiveness. This led to Judy herself changing her mindset about violence and savageness being in a predator’s biology, making her realise her mistakes and reconcile with Nick.
“Change starts with you. It starts with me. It starts with all of us” - Judy Hopps
#2: Encouraging dreamers to live their dreams
This is one of the main contentions of this movie, that “anyone can be anything”, as long as they believe in it and work hard for it. At the start of the movie, it was made known that Judy aspired to become a police officer, to work in Zootopia - the city of her dreams. However, there had never been a bunny cop before. In addition, no one really believed and supported her, even her parents. They wanted her to be safe and happy, and they were afraid that she would not be able to succeed, so they discouraged her from pursuing her dreams, even though she managed to prove herself in the end.
“If you don’t try anything new, you’ll never fail.” - Stu Hopps, to Judy
But before that, she faced many obstacles. The process of achieving her dream was far from smooth sailing. Even so, she persevered through the tough times and worked even harder, as her size was a huge disadvantage. Besides perseverance, having a positive mindset was another key factor that contributed to her eventual success.
"I like trying, actually!” - Judy, as a child
"I guess I'll have to be the first one."
- Judy, as a child, on becoming a bunny police officer
#3: Well-portrayed stereotyping and “racism”
There is an implicit belief amongst these animals that all animals are separated into two categories - predator and prey. The predators are seen as vicious and savage, while prey are seen as meek innocent creatures that should be protected from these predators. On the surface, many animals appear to accept that vicious predators had moved beyond their primitive savage ways, hence allowing predators and prey to live in harmony. This, in fact, serves as a core principle in ensuring the stability of Zootopia, which is essential since many different species of animals live and work together in the city. However, in reality, many animals still subconsciously believe that the primitive savage nature was in predators' blood, even the protagonist herself.
Zootopia shows that such stereotypes can be harmful to every individual and disruptive to society. In the middle of the movie, Judy mistakenly makes a public speech about the predators’ biology influencing them to behave in an aggressive manner, sparking city-wide discrimination against predators. Such untrue beliefs led to chaos within the society, tearing the city apart and making life hard for predators.
How Is This Film Related To Singapore?
The most obvious commonality of Zootopia and Singapore is probably the diversity that both cities have. In Zootopia, many different animals lived together in one big city. In Singapore, we too have many different races and ethnicities living on one island. The movie has shown us that it is possible for one minor, insignificant racist comment against other races/ ethnicities to disrupt peace in society. As such, there is a need to ensure that we think before we speak, and most importantly understand and accept one another, instead of simply tolerating each other.
In conclusion, there were quite a number of key takeaways in this film that were worth learning from. Paired with the well-incorporated humour and the cute relationship between Judy and Nick, this is definitely an inspiring and fun movie to watch together with the whole family.