Essay on Self-Identity in Zootopia

Published: 2021-08-18
1748 words
7 pages
15 min to read
Wesleyan University
Type of paper: 
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Disney has been creating films with cute cartoon animals, but Zootopia is unlike any other movies they have ever created. Zootopia is a movie about a society devoid of human beings where both predators and their prey live together in harmony. Nevertheless, the characters can communicate, have technological advancements, and have a government. Most film enthusiasts never anticipated Disney to make a sophisticated and subversive film about drugs, race, and traffic among other stereotypes in the contemporary society. Stereotypes are characteristics forced on people because of their race or sexual orientation with the intention of discriminating. It is common these days for animated films such as Zootopia to contain some stereotypes and innuendo that the audience can pick up.

One of the stereotypes embodied by the Zootopia animated films is that some people cannot be different. Judy is a bunny with aspirations of being a cop even though most people in her society are carrot farmers. Judys parents try to discourage her from being a cop by telling her that by giving up their dream they became happy. The society strives to dissuade dreamers and people who are different to give up on themselves by being complacent. As such, the film depicts that people who are different have to prove themselves every time because they are a minority. In Zootopia, Judy is the first ever bunny to be a cop, but her parents, Chief Bongo, and Nick do not believe that she has what it takes. Despite the numerous challenges, Judy is determined to be one of the best cops in Zootopia.

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has also been featured in the Disneys 55th animated film. In that, employees working at the DMV are stereotyped as lazy people who work very slowly. Every person who has ever gone to the DMV knows that workers are indeed slow when performing their tasks. Zootopia has highlighted this fact by using sloths as the characters who work at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Sloths are arboreal mammals whose outstanding feature is their slow movement (McDonnell). As such, their depiction in the animated film as characters in DMV is meant to show the character of employees. Such stereotype in the animated film intends to inform the management of the Department of Motor Vehicles that there is a need for a change of attitude and increased efficiency.

Another stereotype depicted by the film is race, which is a sensitive issue in the society. Racism is the belief that one group of people are superior to the others, which, in turn, leads to prejudice and discrimination. The animated film does a good job of ensuring that no animal refers to a specific species. At the same time, the film managed to capture the stereotypes of people from different races. For example, in the train scene, the tiger (a predator) peacefully sits next to a mother bunny and her child. However, the mother bunny and her child decide to move away from the tiger sitting next to them; this scene is significant because it depicts the discrimination against the tiger who had done nothing to threaten the bunnies. Furthermore, the mother bunny teaches her child to fear animals categorized as predators. As a result, the baby bunny would end up judging predators as something they are not because of what a few people have done. Such discrimination reflects what is happening in the society currently. Some white people learn about stereotypes such as African Americans are violent, take drugs, or are not educated as they grow up. Therefore, white persons perpetuate the stereotype of black people as their parents or guardians taught them. Such stereotype is not only limited to Africans, but also to Semites who follow Islam. In that, all Muslims are stereotyped as being terrorists. The act of mother bunny pulling her child away is an indication that she fears the predators. In recent years, Muslims have been made to be feared because a few individuals have chosen to cause terror. Even though most Muslims have condemned the acts of violence by terrorists, ignorance, and fear has made people believe that if one person is bad, then the rest is the same. In Zootopia, some predators had committed serious offenses, but it does not mean that all of them are evil. The lesson one can draw from these stereotypes is that he or she should not be quick to judge other people

Stereotypes are not limited to ones appearance or behavior; they are also in the words people use when referring to each other (Griffin and Langlois). Some groups of people in the society only allow the use of specific words amongst themselves. However, no one else from outside the group uses the same words. The animated film has depicted this stereotype in Zootopias society. Judy is continuously being called cute by other animals even though she consciously rejects that label. Judy tells Clawhauser that even though it is common for bunnies call each other cute, it is offensive when others use it. The stereotype reflects the contemporary society whereby, African Americans use the term Nigga amongst themselves, but it is offensive when people of other races use it. Despite the tags people use amongst themselves in groups, no one should be evaluated based on the way he or she looks. A persons appearance can be deceiving. Every person has a unique identity, which makes him or her stand out from the rest. Therefore, one should not stereotype another person because he or she is different.

The politicians play an important role the administration of any government. However, politicians are stereotyped as sly and deceptive people who only focus on their interests (Khan). Zootopia depicts the stereotype of politicians in that society as well. For example, Mayor Lionheart is depicted as a person who does the wrong thing for the right reasons; he lies to people in Zootopia about the predator going savage on ZNN. However, the mayor cannot contain the situation, and everything is revealed in the end. The film uses Lionheart to depict the satire of politicians who lie and manipulate other people to get away with the bad things they have done. The viewers are reminded that some leaders are only focused on their interests even if it is at the expense of citizens. In many instances throughout history, people in power justify marginalization on biology even though it is not true. Politicians use instruments of power such as the police to advance their agenda but subduing anyone who tries to interfere.

In as much as we would like to blame other people for stereotypes, living up to the stereotype is not right. Such stereotypes are referred to as self-fulfilling. In Zootopia, Nick is a fox whose traditional expectation is being a conniving and sneaky animal. As such, the fox fulfills his destiny because that was expected of him, but not because he wanted to do it. Wilder was bullied for being a predator in various instances, and he saw that he had no alternative other than becoming what everyone thought he was. The animated film points out how sometimes people are perceived in a particular manner due to reasons such as gender, sexual orientation to religion. Over time, stereotyped persons reflect and embody their labels because they do not see the need to change. For example, a person who has been stereotyped as a thief for a long time may reflect and chose to become one. At this point, that individual will see no need to change even though he was willing to become a better citizen. Nicks case depicts systematic racism in the society that has become hard to escape because it is a self-fulfilling divination. One would think that the prey was the one being oppressed in Zootopia. Instead, the prey were the ones oppressing predators. The prey is 90 percent of the population, which makes them seem like the ones in control of Zootopia. However, assistant mayor Bellwether still wants to manipulate fear of predators so that prey can be dominant. It reflects the self-fulfilling nature of white people in countries such as the United States. White people in the United States are approximately 77 percent of the total population (Grieco and Cassidy). However, systemic racism against Africans and other persons using fear of law enforcement agencies is prevalent. In that, the police continuously oppress people of African descent or Muslims as a show of power. The animated film prompts people to reflect on some of these issues affecting the society.

The issues of segregation in housing were abolished, but it is still practiced subconsciously. There are areas where people from a particular background or race cannot be allowed to live because they are different (Coulibaly, Green and James). For example, in a neighborhood where affluent people live, they can ensure that house prices are high that not many people can afford. In Zootopia animated film, small rodents have their area within the city that has is sized down to accommodate their needs. Big animals cannot access the rodents area even though the rodents can come to areas for big animals. Such environments in the film suggest that although they interacted in certain regions, each of them lived separate lives. People with common characteristics such as wealth live in areas that suit their wants and needs. Those people who cannot afford to live in the same regions as wealthy people opt to live other cheaper locations.

Zootopia is a captivating film that highlights numerous stereotypes in the society. The film was well written and produced to capture the realities of peoples lives without the characters explicitly depicting any race. The 55th Disney animated film illustrates the adverse effect stereotypes have in the society if left unchecked. The Zootopian society demonstrates that stereotypes can be a positive thing as well. In that, it can prompt people to change when their actions are harmful, for instance, wasting time at the DMV.


Work Cited

Coulibaly, Modibo, Rodney D. Green and David M. James. Segregation in Federally Subsidized Low-income Housing in the United States. New York: Green Wood Publishing , 1998.

Grieco, Elizabeth M. and Rachel C. Cassidy. "Census Brief." Overview of race and Hispanic origin (2000).

Griffin, Angela M. and Judith H. Langlois. "Stereotype Directionality and Attractiveness Stereotyping: Is Beauty Good or is Ugly Bad?" Soc Cogn (2006): 187206.

Khan, Haroon A. An Introduction to Public Administration. New York: University Press of America, 2008.

McDonnell, Julia. Being a Sloth. Rosen Publishing Group, 2013.



Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the website, please click below to request its removal: