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Zootopia is a Disney movie about a world where all types of mammals live together as one with supposed equal opportunities and the major animal divisions are prey versus predators, who used to live segregated from one another. Judy Hopps is a rabbit who defies society’s expectations of prey and becomes the first rabbit police officer. She moves into the big city where a large problem begins to arise. More and more animals are increasingly becoming savage and wreaking havoc on everything and Hopps is insistent on solving this mystery. In the end, a sheep named Bellwether was secretly behind in turning the predators to savages in order to reinforce the racism and discrimination in Zootopia and to affirm the supremacy of the prey. She becomes friends with a fox and predator named Nick who becomes her sidekick and aid through getting to know the city.
In Zootopian society, there are many prejudices and racist ideologies that are covertly practiced, which effects the individual’s life experiences. The concepts of racism, prejudice, and discrimination in this movie are integrated as a means to demonstrate how despite the level of equality and freedom America preaches, discrimination practices towards minority groups are still applied, only more subtly than before. Zootopia is an allegory to America and America’s culture where different racial and gender groups have historically been discriminated against. Zootopia is supposed to be a place where there is equal opportunity for all, regardless of animal characteristics or groups and denies the past historical way of life where preys and predators lived in segregated ways. America emphasizes upward social and economic mobility for all, especially immigrants who immigrate seeking for a better life due to our unfortunate historical backstory where our country was built on the exploitation and discrimination of people of color as well as mass genocide and occupation of the Native Americans. Our “progressive” politics aims to eliminate any sort of discrimination and to build a new and “better” America. Nevertheless, certain groups in the movie are seen to be discriminated against based on prejudices on whether one is a prey or predator. Prey are stereotyped as weak and not good enough while predators are stereotyped as dangerous and highly capable of violence. An example of this would be how Hopps had been discouraged and bullied all her life about her dreams of being a police officer. Her expected role as prey and as a woman is seen as not capable enough to handle such tasks such as law enforcement and social justice. Those are reserved for the predators, which is why she is at first assigned as a meter maid by her male predator superior who dismisses her potential talents and capabilities. Nick falls victim to stereotype threat, where the constant negative portrayals of foxes as inherently devious convinces him to give in and grow up to be a criminal. Hopps’s covert prejudice against predators is shown after she shows fear against Nick even after he had proven to be helping her.
The ideas of social process and racialization are seen in this movie where the animals themselves organize and assign different racial (animal) classifications into a hierarchy. This falls into the concept of race being a social construct because we define the definitions and meanings to racial groups and it is not something that is biological. The animal distinctions between predator and prey reveal the nature of the behavior of dominant groups against minorities. The dominant group, which are the prey, are seen to practice the expected behavior of dominant groups and cultures that discriminate against the minority group, which are the predators. Dominant groups and cultures are seen to discriminate against minority cultures and subcultures due to racism. The preys view themselves as superior in moral aspects and the prejudices and racial stereotypes of predators are used to justify this discrimination. The mass media in Zootopia, who reaches a mass audience, explained in their news coverage how they still do not know how or why the animals who are becoming savage are predators. This sparks fear and hostility towards predators throughout Zootopian society and the prey begin to feel that the removal of all predators is the right thing to do for the sake of the citizens’ safety, while ignoring the fact that it is only some and not all. This is an example of expulsion, where the minority group is forcibly removed and past ideas of segregation are becoming reinstated.
The nature versus nurture argument is brought up in Zootopia, which is also justified by racial ideologies. When the predators are turning savage, they are described by the prey as restoring to their intrinsic primal states. This argues how predators are inherently dangerous and savage who seek to harm others and cause violence. This though process refuses to imply the sociological imagination, where critical thinking allows for connections to be made between individual cases and the larger social patterns and structures that configure them. This deliberate denial of attempting to view and understand the situations of others is based on racism and the belief that one group is inherently inferior to the superior group and that is just the way that it should be. It dismisses the greater influences imposed by societal structure that has been systematically designed to disadvantage minority groups. Bellwether was a member of the prey group who deliberately captured and modified the predator mammals of society into bestial savages with no moral code in order to stir up group controversy and falsely relabel predators as unfit for society, and this is an example of how the racism of dominant groups will subtly instill, reinstate, or emphasize these ideas in order to further weaken and hinder the minority’s place in society.
Zootopia is a movie that uses animals and group distinctions between prey and predators as an allegory to American society regarding group discrimination that is till prevalent today. It incorporates various concepts such as racism, prejudice, and gender discrimination in order to illustrate the how even though the overt discrimination practices have been extinguished, covert discrimination practices are still rampant and widely practiced in American society today.
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