Yesterday, I saw “Zootopia” with my three daughters (ages 6, 9, and 12) and we laughed through the whole movie. The animation is spectacular. Zootopia is a city populated by all types of animals and the details of every single species, from the curved horns of the buffalo long noses of the moles are exquisite to watch. This movie is art.
The protagonist is Judy Hopps, a rabbit who longs to leave the boonies of her farm, go to the big city, and make the world a better place. She’s forced to encounter prejudice, being labeled “a dumb bunny.” Not a predator, she’s considered too weak for the police force. Assigned meter maid duty, Judy longs for more challenging work. She overcomes her own biases to pal up with a fox and solve the mystery of a slew of animals gone missing.
Not only did I love this movie because of Judy’s actions but also her looks. We know she is female mainly because of her voice. She doesn’t have long, curly eyelashes or a hot pink bullet proof vest. Her upper uniform is truncated in a way I think they were trying to feminize it, but even so, her physical self is unusually ambiguous for an animated character in contemporary media.
Judy becomes best friends with a male fox. These two come no love each other. No romance involved. No romance in the entire movie. “Zootopia” is literally a poster for cross-gender friendships, something rarely seen in children’s media.
Judy is a Minority Feisty. Even though her character is wonderful, female parts are outnumbered by male ones. In a recently published study on gender and children’s media, researchers found that even when a film features a female protagonist, such as “Frozen” female speaking time is still less than male speaking time. I don’t think “Zootopia” will be an exception due to the majority of male characters. The movie does feature another compelling female character with a big part, a sheep named Dawn. There’s also a character that really bugged me. Gazelle is a singer played by Shakira.She prances and dances wiggling a bare midriff and teetering in sky high heels. She’s a singer but seems to be admired mostly for her looks. Apparently, Shakira requested that artists enlarge her character’s hips, but she’s still stick skinny. I already blogged about Gazelle because, exemplifying typical sexism, she is the female character used in the marketing. Here’s the ad I saw in my People Magazine.
Judy Hopps, the protagonist, is missing from this ad campaign. WTF? I suppose she’s left out since she’s not gazellegant or always stylish. The good news is that Gazelle’s actual part in the movie is tiny, her scenes are minimal and she’s also inconsequential in the plot. If she were the only female, I’d be pissed.
Grown-ups, you’ll love the scene in the DMV office populated by sloths. I’ve rarely seen a moment so hilarious and true-to-life in animated film. Everyone, proceed to your local Metereon. I’d be surprised if there’s a kid out there of any age who doesn’t adore this movie.
Reel Girl rates “Zootopia” ***HH***