I have to say that Zootopia is one of the worst films I’ve ever seen and I kick myself for not researching it more before bringing my six-year old daughter to it. The dark and scary themes interspersed with the “good guys” navigating their way through a nasty metropolis was way more mean and cynical than what I want her to be exposed to yet.
People complain that children are too cynical too early – and this kind of film models that cynicism from start to finish.
Platitudes at the end about getting along and respecting everyone are lost and submerged because the rest of movie models snarkiness, cynicism, bullying, and ridiculing between characters. It reminds me of toxic work environments where the walls are covered with workplace manifestos about respect and safety. There’s a huge disconnect between what’s being said upfront and what’s really going on and the nastiness that is actually ruling the environment.
Perhaps the film’s saving grace is that the story itself is weak and will hopefully do so poorly that it will be out of theatres before long and before it can have a wide impact. It didn’t really even feel like a kid’s movie – let alone a good one. There were few of the kinds of funny, slapstick kinds of humour and mischief that small children love. The dark themes of mafia, kidnapping, surveillance, and workplace politics formed the backbone of the story – concepts that small children are not interested in and in my opinion should be shielded from at this stage of their lives. Yet coupled with powerful special effects and musical background the darkness and evil of these themes was quite apparent even if children might not understand exactly what was happening.
Nor am I happy with the film’s portrayal of mediation and yoga – serious and admirable endeavours in building self awareness and peace of mind, body, and soul. These are the values that children naturally gravitate toward and should be given respect and honour in their work to bring sanity to a world dictated by false values. And to which children should be taught to honour and strive to emulate.
And I can’t not mention the inklings of sexualization of the pop star Gazelle and the somewhat questionable and unhealthy evolving (romantic?) relationship between the fox and the bunny (good girl/bad boy) that leave a dirty taste in my mouth and adds another item to my list of points to gradually bring up with my daughter as an example of an unhealthy relationship.
I want to give my children a beautiful view of the world – as much as is possible until they are old enough to understand and learn ways of feeling empowered against some of the ugliness of contemporary life. And I want to talk to them when I see they are capable of handling it and as situations arise in their own lives, – not presented on a larger than life screen in a fast paced 1-2-3 action film.
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