March 14, 2016
79 years after its first animated classic, Disney revealed its most powerful character of all-time to be a minute rabbit.
Zootopia could have easily been purely a children’s movie, akin to its post-Disney Renaissance predecessors The Wild, Bolt, and Home on the Range, among others that featured anthropomorphic animals. Instead, it wisely predicted the dangerous rise of Donald Trump and his all-but-genocidal ideology.
Trump officially declared his presidency on June 16, 2015. Three months before, John Lasseter and the rest of the creative team for Zootopia rewrote its plot to be the most socially aware cartoon this side of South Park and other crude-but-poignant satires that I’ve watched—certainly the most on-point since Pixar’s WALL-E. The rewrite was prophetic, addressing the very issues that our nation must face as long as Trump remains a threat to succeed Obama.
For those who haven’t seen the film, you absolutely should. I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers, but Zootopia necessarily addresses the incongruities and dangers of the current landscape of American politics, tackling issues such as the forced imprisoning of a “dangerous” minority, the rise of power in order to oppress out-groups, and the implementation of fear in order disenfranchise anyone who threatens one’s personal power gains. A small-town rabbit heads to the big city to fulfill her dream of becoming a cop. But upon arriving in Zootopia, Judy Hopps learns the complexity of intergroup relations and the constant threat of oppression and disenfranchisement, constantly harassed for her size and background, accidentally throwing the 10% population of Predators under the bus as likely dangerous criminals, and addressing her own implicit biases. It all calls upon America’s current issues.
Trump promises to make America different, not great. He promises to rule with as much tyranny as possible, to mute the media à la his friend Vladimir Putin, to ban refugees and well-intentioned immigrants in order to “purify” a nation that spans ocean to ocean upon land that generations ago was wrested from its actual native inhabitants. He encourages his supporters to harass anyone with a logical and dissenting opinion. These are the same supporters who told my brother on Friday, “All Muslims are pedophiles.” The same supporters who told a Kirkwood, MO, native of Arab descent that he should go back to Arabia because he’s ruining this country. The same supporters who chant for Mexicans to build a wall on the border. Trump is the greatest domestic threat that American millenials have ever seen.
Toward the end of Zootopia, an unsuspecting villain claims, “Fear always works. And I’ll dart every predator in Zootopia to keep it that way.” Trump’s philosophy is no different. Incite fear, destroy the opponent. Then lie. And lie. And lie some more. And then beat the shit out of dissenters. Make them fear him more than he fears them. Because he fears them a fucking shit ton.
Trump thrives on fear. But the scariest thing of all is that his strategy might work. It’s time to take a lesson from Disney and rise above such hateful actions.