Drinks with Disney: Racism in Zootopia

After getting home from work Saturday I settled in on my couch with dinner and wine to watch some Netflix. While scrolling through the new releases Zootopia popped up. I love animated movies, they’re always a perfect choice for a pick me up. So I started watching and about a third of the way into the movie and half a bottle of wine deep I had a serious epiphany. It went along the lines of “Holy Hannah this movie is all about racism!!!! Whaaaattt??!! Ahhh! OMG” I grabbed my pen and paper and madly started analyzing and overthinking the littlest details of the movie. Not going to lie… The wine definitely had a lot to do with this…
A heads up for anyone who hasn’t seen Zootopia and would like to watch it there will be spoilers but I will do my best to not give up the whole movie.

Zootopia takes place in a world of animals: predators, and prey. Years ago there was a problem with predators being savage and attacking the prey, but everyone has evolved and now live in harmony. Or do they….? DUN DUN DUN (sorry guys that’s the wine talking)

Judy is the main character, she’s a little rabbit with a big dream to become the first bunny police officer. Her parents discourage her and tell her that bunnies can’t be cops. Judy still tries and she goes to the Police Academy to take the test.

Let’s talk about this test. The Police Fish.jpgAcademy is expecting a small bunny to pass an obstacle course built for rhinos, lions and elephants. Seems pretty ridiculous when you watch the scene but yet we expect kids in school to all be tested the same way even though they are all different with unique skills and abilities. The wine probably made this connection to standardized testing but the scene does make you think.

With lots of hard work Judy gets assigned to the ZPD (Zootopia Police Department). At the train station her parents lecture her on the dangers of predators and even give her fox repellent and a taser. I know that it’s a generalization but a lot of older generations still hold on to prejudices that were instilled when they were younger. A friend of mine in high school once told me a story of how his grandma made inappropriate comments about their German waiter. Of course Judy’s parents are just worried about their daughter but they are not helping to diminish the stigma that all predators are savage. perpetuating-stereotypes

When Judy gets to the ZPD she is greeted by Benjamin, the nicest, sweetest predator ever. You go Benjamin! Take down those stereotypes! (That’s the wine again…) Then this happens….thenwordRemind you of any other word…? This Disney movie exposed such an important truth! They basically replaced the N word with cute! More and more these days you’ll hear white people using the N word and personally it makes me uncomfortable. It is a word that has been reclaimed by the black community and not our word to use. The article “Stop Saying N****a If You’re Not Black” sums it up quite nicely.

Judy goes to her first assignment meeting and sits with giraffes, elephants, wolves, and tigers. Everyone gets assigned a cool case and Judy.. well she doesn’t exactly get what she wanted…

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Because of her small size Judy is not taken seriously and gets parking duty while the other officers get more important cases. This can be adapted to portray minorities roles in the workplace, including women. Another example of inequality in the workplace for women can be seen through assistant mayor Bellweather. Although she is the assistant mayor she is pushed around and overshadowed by her male coworker, the mayor. While the mayor gets a snazzy office, the female assistant mayor has a supply closet as an office and refers to herself as “a glorified secretary”.  In fact, the plot twist at the end of the movie really brings the theme of inequality home. A woman… feeling underappreciated.. If you want to know what I am getting at watch the movie!

Anyways, while on parking duty Judy sees a fox. Instincts that have been drilled into her by her parents kick in and she gets suspicious. Judy follows Nick the fox into an elephant ice cream parlor and this scene plays out.

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Nick tried to buy a lollipop for his son but because he is a small fox the elephant refuses to serve him. Remind you of a particular event that took place in 1960 at a diner? 4 black students sat at the bar in protest of the rule that they had to sit at the back of the diner. They sat for days and were refused service because of the colour of their skin. This event is known as the Greensboro Lunch Counter and whether Disney intentionally made this reference or all the wine did, this scene is one of the best examples of racism within Zootopia.

Ultimately the movie revolves around the fact that predators are “biologically” programmed to be savages and prey perpetuate those stereotypes. Despite the fact that both live in “harmony” Zootopia as a society still has a long way to go to create equality. Very much like our current society.

So as I was making all these connections I thought about all the Disney movies I have ever watched. There is no way Zootopia is the only one that deals with some real life issues. And then brain blast, I am not a kid anymore. I have a reference frame that is way more educated and informed than what I had as a kid. So I messaged my uncle and asked if he could get my little cousins ideas on the movie, what did he think the main take away was?

“I think the lesson is maybe always follow your dreams. Because in the movie Judy is trying to be a cop but she’s not really got at it and people are taking her as this not good bunny and they give her parking duty. So I think the lesson was to follow your dreams and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something”

ADORABLE! My little cousin picks up on the main message of the movie without over analyzing it as I have. Follow your dreams and never give up no matter how many people tell you to quit. Absolutely adorable that he gets to watch this movie in a blissful innocence, and it’s okay because he is young and no one expects him to know much about inequality in the workplace or racism. In fact, when my uncle tried to prompt him by asking if he thought there was a lesson in the predators and the prey the little guy said there wasn’t a lesson and “you know how it goes”. Makes me wish I could be a kid again for a bit!

Well I could go on and on about all the connections I made in this movie but what fun would that be? Watch it yourself and see if you can determine what scenes made me think of the following:

  • Lack of respect for women
  • Media twisting the words of the police
  • Government secrets
  • Don’t judge a book by it’s cover (hint, Mr.Big)
  • Instilling fear to gain power

Have you seen the movie? Watched it with your kids? What are your thoughts or theirs? Should we be talking to kids about these deeper lessons? Let me know in the comments:)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rise of Netflix.

Netflix is an amazing media provider. I’m serious. They do so many awesome things with television and films and that makes me very happy. They have a huge database of movies and shows, they create original series, and they save TV series that have been cancelled. Netflix is just awesome.

What interests me is how quickly we as an audience have embraced these online streaming providers. There is much more control and power over watching television online now and I think that’s great. Not everyone follows the same schedule and I prefer not having the pressure to watch an episode in a specific time slot. What Netflix, CraveTV, and Hulu, do is make television and movies more accessible to everyone. For example, The 100, airs new episodes Thursday nights on its broadcaster, The CW and that same episode is then uploaded to Netflix the very next day. To me, that’s awesome. No stress or pressure to watch it every Thursday night, because I can watch it whenever I want, once it’s uploaded the following day.

Something that is missing from cinemas and cable TV is the lack of diverse content. For the most part, you are only shown American content. Hollywood really dominates the film industry in North America, and there is very rarely any International films shown at movie theaters here. You can find your indie, art house theater which has a better variety of films but, those are few and far between. Even Canadian content is missing from movie theaters in Canada. How many of those films in theaters were made by a Canadian production company?  It’s likely not many. This is what these streaming providers give viewers. A chance to explore different film genres and television shows from across the world. Netflix even has an International and Canadian movie categories, each coming with sub genres to help further classify films for you by country and/or genre.

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There are a ton of amazing films and television shows out there that are worth the hunt. The internet connects us to places around the globe, and this is yet another way for us to take advantage of that connection. Here’s a list of some of my favorite International films, most of which were on Netflix at one point: Attack the Block (2011, United Kingdom), What We Do in the Shadows (2014, New Zealand & USA), The Intouchables (2011, France & Italy), Old Boy (2003, South Korea), The Hunt (2012, Denmark), and Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013, France, Belgium & Spain).

Netflix is just one of many online streaming providers which gives people control and freedom to watch whatever, whenever. It expands our interests by offering  a variety of content from other countries and it gives us original shows and movies to watch on top of that. I know, based on my experience and what my friends think, that online providers are killing it right now and the use for cable is becoming obsolete.

Are there others who are equally thrilled with the direction that television and movies are heading in? Or are online streaming services a scam; taking your money and giving nothing tangible in return? Does the lack of International and Canadian content bother anyone? Let me know what you think and leave any film recommendations below!

Com 0014- Blog 4: B2C Case Study: Netflix

Back in 1997, Reed Hastings, was tired of paying late fee charges for renting movies. He was tired of paying $40.00 in overdue fees for Apollo 13. So what did he do? He and his business partner Marc Randolph decided to create a mail order service for consumers wishing to “rent” “VHS (and eventually DVD’s) by charging $0.50 per rental, with late fees.  Eventually it scrapped its mail-rental model back in the mid to late 2000’s as Web 2.0 evolved, favoring a streaming monthly subscription model. The rest was history.

Netflix has become what its CEO Reed Hastings as a “Global TV Network” through its streaming online monthly services in 190 countries (offering a mix of old TV shows, movies, along with original series and documentaries). Netflix is all over social media and offers a good example of utilizing the business to consumer (B2C) relationship.

Consider the following. Netflix has as of February 28, 2016:

Netflix’s social media channels uses many of the characteristics of a B2C relationship. One thing I noticed when analyzing all of Netflix’s social media channel was their use of continued imagery, and repetition. Their logo is splattered all over their social networking sites, especially on Facebook and Twitter.

Second, Netflix’s target market is quite large. Because they are a streaming service, they cater to a huge market, ranging from movie lovers, TV nostalgia buffs, and independent documentary lovers. For example, Netflix maximizes lots of imagery to tease fans for its streaming programing, including its critically acclaimed original series House of Cards. It uses Instagram creatively as it hypes its fans for the next season, due on March 4th.

Third, Netflix also banks of the emotions of possible users to buy its service. Viewers of the late 1980’s/early 90’s ABC sitcom Full House were excited to hear Netflix would reboot the show, under a new title, ironically called Fuller House. Netflix had heavily been promoting clips of the new show on social media outlets, including Facebook, and providing embedded video tweets with its theme song. This only wets the appetite of fans, who have been waiting for nearly 22 years since the original series went off the air to see their favorite cast members back in action.

Overall, Netflix will only continue to grow its B2C base, as it sees itself not only as a global TV network, but as a destination for unique new shows and rebooted nostalgia. Its social network channels will only expand this reach.