Zootopia: Underlying Themes

Disney recently released a new animated movie, Zootopia, which is packed full of cultural undertones and messages. After hearing rave reviews from my friends, and the 98 percent rating on Rotten Tomato, I knew I had to go see it for myself. Although Zootopia is marketed as a kids movie, it hit on some very relevant themes that are happening today in American culture. I was impressed by the way the movie was written to appeal to both kids and adults while incorporating these controversial topics.

Sticking To The Norm

Judy, the main character and a bunny who grew up in Bunnyborrow, a small town where her parents and hundreds of brothers and sister were carrot farmers. Judy was the only one in her large family who had big dreams to move away and become Zootopia’s first bunny cop. Before she left for training, many people had suggested to her that she keep it safe and stay to be a farmer like most rabbits do. But Judy never let the fear of failing get in the way of her trying to accomplish her dreams. This storyline is particularly relevant in today’s culture. I can really relate to Judy in the sense that, I am from Indiana where the pursuit of filmmaking was close to impossible, so I had to take the risk of moving across the country to pursue my dreams. I know many people who let their fears of following their dreams stop them from the first step. I hope Zootopia teaches kids, and even adults, to run after their dreams no matter where it could take them.

Not Everything Is As It Seems

Early as a child, Judy had dreams of Zootopia where she believed that prey and predators could live in complete peace, but once she actually got to Zootopia as an adult she realized that people are people, or should I say animals are animals, and no matter where you go there are going to be people who don’t get along. I’ve definitely have had many experiences where I’m on the outside looking in and realize that things aren’t as they seem in many situations. As a kid Judy was bullied by a fox named Gideon Grey, so she had reservations about foxes—even into her adulthood. Once she got to Zootopia she started working with a fox named Nick who actually turned out to be a great partner and friend.


Many times in the movie Judy got stereotyped for being a bunny. She is a small prey and isn’t taken seriously once she finally becomes as police officer. Her supervisor underestimates her abilities based on the fact that she is a bunny and makes her start off as a meter maid. Stereotyping is something that is prevalent in our society. There are many organizations and advocates out there who are trying to break stereotypes just like Judy in Zootopia.


Equality is a huge underlying theme of the movie. Once Judy got to work in Zootopia she noticed that there were certain restaurants/stores for specific animals. This was a huge reminder of our past and how things used to be in America. Judy led by example for sticking up for the animals being discriminated. This is something that you can see people are trying to diminish in American society.

Video production school attendee Evan!Nikki Riehle is a 19-year-old from the cornfields of Indiana. She is an aspiring predimatographor (producer, editor, cinematographer), and an apprentice at the Center for Creative Media.

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