There are political lessons to be learnt from Zootopia. Donald Trump should be paying close attention.
I think I have found a new favorite Disney Movie, one with themes as powerful as the Lion King and gorgeous animation that outdoes Ratatouille. I was taken aback by how the “kids’” motion picture masterfully satirizes modern social issues, comically camouflaged as animals for political correctness: The American Dream, embracing diversity and rejecting fear-mongering tactics, the latter two of which are such prominent themes in this election, are distilled into a family-friendly comedy that surpasses the typically clichéd storylines of the genre to give a compelling message about what greatness really is. Simple, funny and heartwarming, it should help guide viewers through the current political existential crisis.
an epidemic of racism, sexism and xenophobia
By now, we are all too familiar with how Trump blazes a path into voters’ collective conscience, appealing to some fictitious long-lost glory as a snake-oil promise to improve all of the problems he so willingly highlights.
He instills fear – fear of being inferior to foreign superpowers, fear of being helpless against terrorists, unfounded fear of fellow Americans that also happen to be Muslim or Latin immigrants. He knows all too well that people will unite against a common threat, and he is willing to shatter social cohesion and an inclusive culture that has been decades in the making in order to enthrall voters. With his toxically unconventional sass and bombast, he projects an image of a strong man, a trustworthy, straightforward man, who will no doubt protect us from the myriad threats that belittle the nation. As we all know, his open invitations for foreign powers to jeopardize national security, and disregard for past landmark accomplishments, like NAFTA or NATO, will not make the nation a better place, or a safer one at that. But perhaps most dangerous of all, he has ratified and unleashed an epidemic of racism, sexism and xenophobia, which threaten to unravel what America stands for from the inside out.
That is where Zootopia comes into play. With a Fox, a Rabbit, and a narrative that revolves around the relationship between carnivores and herbivores, formerly predators and prey, Trump’s rhetoric is crushed, and not without humor.
Clearly, the co-existence of all the animals make Zootopia the place of opportunity that it is, and contribute to its smooth functioning: when fear of predators mounted, civil servants were marginalized and anarchy was nigh. Indeed, the divisive, retrograde ideas of biological differences – a not-so-subtle acknowledgement to the age-old racist argument – threatened to make predators conform to the labels that were imposed upon them, just as Muslim exclusion would play right into ISIS’ hands, it is conceding defeat to those who aim to foster hatred.
Thanks to Officer Hops’ heroism, Zootopia remained the beacon of opportunity that it was idealized as: its greatness was in no small measure due to its melting-pot nature, a place where life was enriched by variety (I can’t say I’m not proud of its appreciation for Latin music too). This is what is at risk in this election. Can we live up to our furry friends?
I believe in change, but change for the better
At present, Hillary is not trusted by a large amount of voters, who would prefer the “disruptor”, however crazy, to “the establishment”. I believe in change, but change for the better. The definition of being American is being questioned, but I don’t think it means white, here-before-you and armed with a shotgun. This small-minded mentality makes the country smaller, not greater. If Donald Trump succeeds, not only will emigrating to Canada suddenly be much more attractive, but the the global economy will suffer as he boycotts globalization and instates protectionist measures. Social progress will be beaten back through the years’ worth of progress. We should all look to Zootopia as a lesson of what a great place should be.
Sanders brought up issues on equality and a disparity in political power into the limelight, and both Donald Trump and Hillary tried to absorb his followers. Why? Because the problem is, people have lost confidence in politicians, perhaps because the government is so divided that it even “froze” last year. In this election, we need to be true to our values and find the party that resembles them the most. Personally, I would like to give the “change maker” an opportunity to make even more history.
The film also comments on cop resentment, to gently remind viewers that, if indeed an unnerving degree of systematic racism has recently become evident, it is only exacerbated by fear, and should not alienate the populace from its protectors, for the two are, and should be, one. Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights were committed by deranged, resenting individuals, who took racial matters into their own hands: this approach only exacerbates tensions. You cannot fight fire with fire.
In this time of unprecedented racial tension, surge in terrorist activities, mass shootings and an electoral race where the un-political candidate is favored due to voters being “fed up” with the system, Zootopia is a glimmer of hope. Perhaps a new generation, socialized into those ideals, can stabilize and unify a country that is being torn apart.
- Copyright: Sarunyu L