Disney’s ‘Zootopia’ has a lot of LGBT subtext

Disney’s ‘Zootopia’ has a lot of LGBT subtext

FOREWORD: This is a spoiler post, originally published on sdgln.com

The new Disney animated film, Zootopia, is more than just a movie about a world in which animals behave like humans. It is also a film about the marginalization of every minority in modern society.

But I couldn’t help but feel that they were speaking mostly about the LGBT community.

It is hard to discern because in true Disney form, they actually can’t make that totally clear even with a PG rating; everything means something else, lest a child should discover the entire movie is about homophobia and racism in America.

Of course, the movie is so well made that everyone who has ever felt like an outsider may think the underscore is directed toward them or their particular social affliction.

The main character is Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin), a head-strong bunny who only wants to be a great police officer. Unfortunately after graduation, she’s assigned to traffic duty because her species is considered to be too timid and too dumb to protect Zootopian citizens.

Enter Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a sly fox with grifter tendencies. He tricks Judy out of some money at an ice cream shop, thus fulfilling each of their personal prejudices against the other.

Judy eventually convinces Nick to help her with a kidnapping case and they embark on a thrilling journey of political corruption, rouge predators and self-enlightenment.

Zootopia‘s genius is in the way it manages to address the social injustices of the world with cute critters and tiny landscapes. Every species is a stereotype. Sly fox, dumb bunny, sluggish sloth, criminal rat – they’re all there. It’s a brilliant way to label a class of living things without really offending anybody.

Had these same archetypes been human, every political group in America would have had a PC meltdown.

Our heroes carry with them their own judgments and that makes them real, but unlike the rest of the animal population, they learn that their differences are okay, and their pasts have made them who they are.

In one bit of LGBT subtext, we learn that when Nick was a pup, he desperately wanted to belong to a troop of scouts, but is shunned and humiliated because he is a fox, and the scouts aren’t tolerant of them. There is also an effeminate cheetah named Officer Clawhuaser who greets everyone at the police station with flamboyant aplomb.

The land of Zootopia is also strangely void of any sexual chemistry. None of the animals seem to have a sexual preference, but they are clearly gender based.

Judy and Nick explore their relationship motivated only by trust and acceptance, nothing else; this is a different kind of love story. In fact, either character could fall anywhere on the straight or LGBT spectrum and the audience wouldn’t know.

Zootopia does carry a heavy message about racism, homophobia and hate, but with its intriguing political thriller aspect and invigorating action scenes, the directive is cast upon younger viewers in subtle Disney fashion while older ones can appreciate the sophisticated framework.

This is exactly a Disney parable on “human” rights.

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16 Comments

  1. kritzmoritz
    June 19, 06:06 Reply

    Ugh.
    Why can’t we let cartoons be… Well, cartoons!

    • ambivalentone
      June 19, 08:12 Reply

      Abi. I just tire. The post helps to fire our paranoia now. Now every meek sheep is a potential crime mastermind. Its not helping the image of religious leaders at all

    • Pink Panther
      June 19, 08:25 Reply

      If u can accept that works of art, whether paintings or literature or motion pictures bear a message for the general public, then why are u exasperated that people have chosen to see some significance in cartoons?

    • Mandy
      June 19, 11:05 Reply

      Kritzmoritz, have u watched Zootopia? Disney wasn’t even being subtle with the minority messages littered all over the movie. In this one, drawing meanings cannot be helped.
      Sometimes, cartoons aren’t just cartoons whether the viewer likes it or not.
      You should watch it, if you haven’t.

      • kritzmoritz
        June 19, 11:40 Reply

        I most definitely will watch. But my questions are: what happened to the mindless, free willing and chaotic madness that used to be the cartoons we used to love. Why do we have to let our favourite characters grow old and start thinking like adults? Is childish innocence no longer bliss?

        • JustJames
          June 19, 12:57 Reply

          I’m actually glad cartoons are moving from the mindless madness to emotional sensitivity.

          Look back on it.. Even when emotions were professed in those cartoons it was just a setup for some kind of joke.

          And who says they still can’t be fun with the deep lessons involved? I envy the children who get to grow up with these cartoons tbvh. They get to learn so much without even knowing it.

  2. Mr. Fingers
    June 19, 07:32 Reply

    lmao@effeminate cheetah. Too bad i dont do animations.

    • Mandy
      June 19, 11:02 Reply

      Oh you’re missing! Animations are the bomb. And the whole world agrees becos this particular one has grossed over a billion dollars in the box office.

      • Mr. Fingers
        June 19, 11:35 Reply

        Lol i know Mandy. But i will pass. The last animation i saw was the Lion King.

  3. Sinnex
    June 19, 08:12 Reply

    Lemme add this to my to watch list.

  4. bain
    June 19, 08:56 Reply

    I’ll gv yall one reason to go see this……shakira is on it!

  5. Brian Collins
    June 19, 16:29 Reply

    I have watched Zootopia like 9 times and this is not a joke. I downloaded it and watch it every time with anyone who wants to watch. There is a friend of mine who has watched it more times than I have. It is just a great story about stereotypes and trying to live above them and they did great.

  6. michael
    June 19, 22:50 Reply

    Great movie I must say. Funny and entertaining.

  7. BlurryFace
    June 20, 13:00 Reply

    that scene where the cheetah caught his boss fondling with that “dance” app though. In the real world I can imagine a better follow-up scene.

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