'Zootopia' Gives Kids a Lesson in Equality, Feminism & How to Treat Others

Tackling adult issues in a kid's animated movie is a tricky business. With Disney/Pixar's 2015 feature Inside Out, adults were able to reconnect with their own complicated feelings about growing up, and share those ideas with their own kids who dragged them along to see the movie. Zootopia is the same sort of cinematic experience, except instead of prepubescent angst, we are exploring subjects like equality, feminism, and racism. 

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The movie is all about a plucky little bunny named Judy Hopps who has always dreamed about going to the big city of Zootopia and becoming a police officer. The problem is that there has never been a bunny police officer before. But thanks to a new diversity initiative, Judy finds herself on the force -- although, it's in the lowly position of a meter maid. 

The story continues with Judy joining forces with a con-artist fox and their embarking on solving the case as to why predatory animals are suddenly becoming savage. The movie is stunning to look at, the animals are adorable and likeable, and underneath all of this Disney good cheer are all these messages that serve as excellent jumping-off points for parents to discuss the bigger issues of equality and inclusion with their kids. 

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The movie doesn't sugarcoat things. It shows how we treat others, especially people of other races and genders, with preconceived bias and how difficult it is to change our own distorted notions of others. It shows how even when someone believes in equality and giving everyone a fair chance, his or her own past history of what he or she has experienced or was taught can color that person's own worldview.

Judy had been taught from a very young age that foxes are dangerous, and in turn the fox, named Nick Wilde, has his own past history of being bullied and tormented due to his classification as predator. Along the way they meet many characters who represent so many marginalized real human people, and after seeing the movie with my own kids I had a whole slew of topics and issues to discuss with them about what they thought each of these scenarios meant. It's very smart stuff, and it's refreshing that Disney feels our kids are smart enough to have these conversations. 

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Zootopia is sweet and beautiful and wildy funny with a very catchy pop song performed by Shakira, but it's also incredibly smart and needed -- especially when so many of us parents are trying to raise our own kids to do better than our parents did in regards to teaching us about equality.

 

 

Image via Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

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