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Zoostereotypia September 5, 2016

Posted by geoff in News.
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Finally watched Zootopia last night. It was all right – not as funny as I’d hoped, and the racial prejudice theme didn’t let up on bludgeoning the viewer, like, ever. But then I thought about the movie a bit, and it started bugging me. [I mean, it bugged me even more than the nagging question of how carnivores survive in a world where they’re not allowed to eat meat. Unless they eat birds, fish, or insects, who are apparently not allowed into Zootopia, which, for all its supposed universal tolerance seems to cater exclusively to mammals.]

The movie is relentless in making its point that you can’t stereotype anthropomorphized animals based on their category (predator and prey –  a notion done with more finesse (IMHO) with Bruce the shark in Finding Nemo). One presumes that this extends to people, who shouldn’t be stereotyped based on their race, class, sex, or whatever. We are, after all, individuals who should “..not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

No objections there, obviously. But on the path to making that point, the movie’s creators invoke many animal stereotypes for the sake of humor. Predator vs. prey is among the few taboo stereotypes (terms such as “cute bunny,” “dumb bunny,” and “sly fox” are also mentioned as being politically incorrect). But making jokes about the fecundity of rabbits? They milked that one 3 times.

Weasely weasel? Check. Howling (uncontrollably) wolves? You got ’em. Lion as king (mayor)? Yessir. Doughnut-loving cops? Front and center (literally). Lemmings all doing the same thing? Clever fox? Elephants never forget (they play against stereotype for humor)? Yep.

There were others, but I started drinking to inoculate myself against the hypocrisy.

It’s like they made a comedy about Martin Luther King (bad idea from the get go, but it would probably be green-lighted in today’s Hollywood) and, amid the moralizing about race and prejudice, decided to include fried chicken and watermelon for humor’s sake.

My point is that if you’re making a movie about the harm of stereotypes, you can’t pick and choose which stereotypes you think are harmful. Or which demographic slice should be protected from stereotyping. And if you’re looking to lecture the audience on stereotyping, you should make sure your own house is in order first.

Comments»

1. Jimbro - September 5, 2016

Zootopia was no Sausage Party!

(From what I’ve read Zootopia paled in comparison to Sausage Party in terms of making people’s head explode)

2. geoff - September 5, 2016

Haven’t seen it, but it seems like another bad Hollywood idea – just an extended dick joke.

As it were.

3. veeshir - September 5, 2016

I haven’t seen the movie, but I’m commenting.

y point is that if you’re making a movie about the harm of stereotypes, you can’t pick and choose which stereotypes you think are harmful.

But they can and did.

You see, eating meat is bad and wymyn are better than men, mmmmkay?

Those are all they needed to teach you.

4. Mark in NJ - September 5, 2016

Saw it in the theater several months ago with my younger daughter and had the same uneasy feeling about the selective stereotyping.

But is there a “they” trying to teach me something – or is it just bad art-making?

5. geoff - September 5, 2016

You see, eating meat is bad and wymyn are better than men, mmmmkay?

Another strong sub-theme is that DNA has nothing to do with behavior or even your potential. Nature vs. nurture is no longer a philosophical question: it’s all nurture in Zootopia.

So by wishing away genetics, you have the writers’ utopia where anybody can be anything, no matter how absurd. Which leads directly to the modern view of gender, where you can be any gender or combination of genders or a new, heretofore unknown, gender, regardless of the content of your chromosomes.

6. geoff - September 5, 2016

But is there a “they” trying to teach me something – or is it just bad art-making?

Bad art-making combined with a crappy dime-store philosophy.

7. veeshir - September 5, 2016

My sister gave up a girl, Jessica, for adoption when she was 16 (my sister, not Jess). We met Jess when she was 30.

They are almost exactly the same. Watching them get pissed at the same thing (me usually, the don’t like my sense of humor) was pretty darn funny.

The only differences were superficial.
Jessica was raised in Westchester county, might as well be Lawn Gisland, while my sister was raised in Ulster county, much more rural and far less affected by NYC.

Nurture can change you some and can really screw you up, but that makes me lean heavily toward nature.

8. Jimbro - September 6, 2016

It sounds like the reunion at age 30 was a good thing.

9. veeshir - September 6, 2016

It was Jimbro, except my sister’s 16 and 13 year old daughters didn’t think it was so good.

But then, they didn’t find much they liked at that time.

10. digitalbrownshirt - September 6, 2016

I saw Zootopia on dvd with my daughter. I knew about the social politics before hand, but still enjoyed it as a comedy. The racial stuff was pretty heavy handed. I thought it was funny at the beginning of the movie that the prey were suspicious of the fox for being a predator and it turned out the suspicion was correct. Yes he changed, but it was still true that the stereotype was supported by his behavior. Of course they had to show how “society” had forced him into being that way instead of just making it easier to choose that path.

If I avoided every movie that pushed bs politics I’d never go to a movie.

11. Retired Geezer - September 6, 2016

If I avoided every movie that pushed bs politics I’d never go to a movie.

*life as a Geezer

12. geoff - September 6, 2016

Hey Veeshir – I got your request for access to Uncommon Misconceptions, but it hasn’t been functional for several years. I just use it for private research these days.

13. veeshir - September 6, 2016

I was just clicking it to see what happened, after it went through immediately I thought, “I shouldn’t have done that”.

I was looking at an old post where someone asked you about your blog.

14. skinbad - September 6, 2016

He keeps all his old notes on reanimation there. You don’t really want to know.

15. geoff - September 6, 2016

Ahem. Those are new notes, thank you very much.

16. Retired Geezer - September 6, 2016

He keeps all his old notes on reanimation there. You don’t really want to know.

I believe you misread it… it was re-Anime.

Yes, geoff admits to being a cultural approbater.


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