The University of Iowa has an interesting take on Disney’s latest animated feature.

Evidently, Zootopia is laced with racist, coded language.

Zootopia is a film about a young rabbit, Judy Hopps, and her dream to join the police force in the world populated by anthropomorphic mammals. Judy is denied a high position in the police force and is assigned meter-maid duty. All animals are bipedal regardless of their species. The animals that are usually prey in the animal kingdom are the dominant force and look down upon the predators. Throughout the whole world of Zootopia, the predators are bullied by the prey, and this is an amazing shift from reality. There is a strange occurrence happening in the film that involves many predators disappearing and going “savage.” Going savage includes going back to their natural state, which means going back on all fours and attacking prey.

I believe the message present in the film is an allegory to the current status of the white population in contemporary society. The majority of the people who were involved in the writing of this film were white. This aligns with my idea of the allegory present in the movie. The prey are akin to minorities of the world, in the way that they get preyed on by the predators, which are white people.

And this isn’t remotely reaching. Not in the least. Nope.

In the real world, this can be proved by the many killings of innocent minorities without any legal action taken. Many people know of the power that white America has over the country. Representation in media and other outlets is mainly whitewashed, and it is difficult to find accurate portrayals of minorities.

The United States was in fact stolen from the Native Americans. I think this movie is a call to arms for the dominant group of the world (white people) to take control of what was supposedly theirs. This is not the message that Disney should be either subconsciously or consciously inserting into its films, even though there is a sordid history with the messages present in their past films.

The depictions of minorities in Disney’s movies have always been lacking. In the Princess and the Frog, the “princess” protagonist is portrayed as a lowly frog for the majority of the movie. In Aladdin, Middle Easterners are portrayed as “barbaric” in the movie’s opening song. That the minorities are prey is similar to the way that minorities have always been portrayed: as weak.

Disney needs to be more careful with the message it sends in its movies. Children are impressionable, and people such as me with younger family members will watch these movies and realize that there is apparent racism in the films. Disney needs to diversify its writing team to allow for an equal and accurate representation of minorities in the world.

This is the coded call to arms:

PJ Media’s Walter Hudson has a very different take:

What was wisely not advertised in the film’s marketing campaign is its heavy-handed moralizing about racism and bigotry. The real story of the film is about a political plot to portray predator animals as inherently vicious and untrustworthy so that fear will keep a cabal of prey animals in power.

The message isn’t entirely without merit. Bigotry is certainly a negative force which should be opposed. However, no distinction is made in the film between bigotry and the recognition of legitimate differences. The moral of the story is that “anyone can be anything.” It’s meant in both the occupational and metaphysical sense. The film literally rejects biology, promoting the notion that how people identify should define how they are regarded in spite of what they actually are. At one point, a young canine’s desire to grow up and become an elephant is treated as healthy and valid. The allusion to real-world trans issues is obvious.

Such messaging shouldn’t necessarily keep you from seeing the film or taking your kids. The deeper philosophical stuff will probably go over kids’ heads, and you can confidently discuss the issues with older children. But you should know what you’re getting into before you go.

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