Disney’s Zootopia: Exploring Racial Biases

I recently watched Zootopia for the first time. I was not expecting to enjoy this movie as much as I did. When my friend suggested it I was hesitant, but I soon found out that this movie was made for kids just as much as it was made for adults.

Zootopia has many underlying messages through the presence of animals of all different species. They use these species to call attention to prejudice and profiling. For example, there are assumptions put on both of the main characters, one being a bunny, and on being a fox. The fox, Nick Wilde,  is assumed to be a vicious predator, so it is hard for the bunny to view him as a gentle friend. The bunny, Officer Judy Hopps, is only seen as cute, and therefore the fox has a hard time believing that she could be a successful police officer.

Some of the obvious allusions include when Officer Judy Hopps clarifies for someone that “a bunny can call another bunny ‘cute,’” but that it’s really not OK for other animals to do it. I thought this was an interesting connection to the “n” word debate in modern society.

I think movies like Zootopia are very important for young children so they can be exposed to these themes that are constantly being debated and explored in modern society. Here is an article I found discussing the exploration of racial biases in Disney’s Zootopia


-Kelsey Sierra

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4 Responses to Disney’s Zootopia: Exploring Racial Biases

  1. mediaphiles says:

    I have never seen Zootopia, but I had also heard rumors that it was connected to bigger themes. I think that this is such an impressive thing that the creators did in connecting stereotyping to animals. We all know that there is stereotyping in real life – whether it’s based on race, religion, ethnicity, social class, even hair color. I had never thought about the fact that I stereotype animals, though. Of course, the stereotyping of animals is not necessarily the main point of the movie, but it is interesting in helping me at least, realize how much I do stereotype. Despite the fact that I try my best to avoid it, we are all so conditioned into believing certain things about certain people. I think this movie is a great awareness tactic to get not only children, but adults thinking about this idea. I forsee that it will prompt children to ask their parents why a bunny is treated like that or why a fox is treated like that, and I think that these questions will lead to more fruitful ones about real people.
    -Nicolette McCann

  2. mediaphiles says:

    I wrote about this a week or so ago, and I agree! It’s amazing. What light in such an often dark, dark world. Great post.
    – Corey

  3. mediaphiles says:

    I was absolutely astonished about how socially and politically aware Zootopia was. I remember entering the theater and not really having an opinion about it because I did not hear much about it at the time, but, when I exited the theater, I could not have been more proud. This movie is made not only for kids, but for people of all ages. It somehow turns a very sensitive and often charged discussion into a lighthearted film for the whole family to see. I would encourage anyone who hasn’t to see this movie.

    -Shelby Halliman

  4. mediaphiles says:

    I have probably seen Zootopia upwards of five times now and absolutely loved it every time partly due to my love for animated/Disney movies, but also because of its lighthearted, and yet effective, way of commenting on “touchy” topics. I found the article from Buzzed as a helpful addition to your post, as it sheds light on the various highly-debated topics that come up in Zootopia. From messing with Dawn the sheep’s hair to “calling bunnies cute,” the movie offers a lighthearted perspective into our current day racial issues like people feeling the urge to touch black hair and using the “n” word. This bold move on the writer’s part allows Zootopia to confront racial biases that we encounter in society in a lighthearted way that children can understand. I think that Zootopia has set a exemplary model which other children’s movies in the future should follow that teaches children lessons about racial biases in today’s world. – Eleanor Raether

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