"But they're just children's movie"

Often, the term 'ignorance ' is associated with global issues of prejudice, racism or bigotry. But our ignorant tendencies prevail everyday, albeit on a minor scale. The way society discredits children's movies as "just a kid's movie," could count as a form of ignorance. 

I've grown up with Disney and Dreamworks—correction: I'm still growing up with Disney and Dreamworks. Remember Rafiki? "Ah yes, the past can hurt. But from the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it." Or Lilo and Stitch? "Ohana means family, and family means no one gets left behind or forgotten." And don't forget Dumbo, "The very things that hold you down are going to lift you up."

Especially with the recent movie releases, I don't see why it's a negative thing. Frozen showed us the power of sacrifice. Big Hero 6 teaches us that getting even doesn't add up. Inside Out reminds us that, to be happy, we need to experience sadness. 

And now there's Zootopia. With all the racial and religious extremism going around, Nick and Judy's relationship in the movie is beacon of hope to educate our society about overcoming stereotypes and prejudice.

What other "kid's movies" do you think have a strong moral message?

Sincerely, Sab

***
The piece below was originally published on the jakartapost.com here

"Zootopia" brings Aesop’s fables to an entirely new level, taking a lighthearted comedy approach to convey a more serious parable on prejudice, acceptance and friendship. The movie not only features lovable protagonists but also involves comedic animal stereotypes and a lot of pop-culture references.

The movie uses inherent distrust between prey and predator animals—albeit domesticated—to expose conventional stereotypes and prejudices to illustrate racial tensions as well as how fear can be manipulated and exploited by people in positions of authority. But Disney, being Disney, delivers inspiring moral lessons to youth and adult alike through the unlikely friendship between Judy Hopps, an optimistic, energetic and perhaps-a-bit-naïve police officer rabbit and Nick Wilde, a laid-back, cynical ‘entrepreneur’ con-artist fox.

Despite having a heavy underlying message, the movie is fiercely bouncy and offers up an abundance of jokes and gags while somehow retaining an overall noble tone (tip: pay attention to the table tessellated with pirated DVDs). One unique aspect of Zootopia can be found in the lack of lyrical songs incorporated throughout the movie, with Shakira’s "Try Everything" serving as the “theme song” of the movie. Because of this, the movie is kept at a good pace with the plot consistently moving forward. Heartfelt moments are effectively utilized for character development (like the cable car scene in Rainforest District) or for the exposition of important information (like the conversation between Gideon Grey and Papa Hopps).

The journey is marked by a lot of plot twists and, through surprise revelations, we are reminded of the important lesson to not judge a person based on stereotypes and that we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be gullible enough to fall victim to prejudice and or racist ideologies. In a world where misguided ideologies tear humanity apart, it is important to be reminded of such. More importantly, it is important for us to remain hopeful—to believe that we can change the fate of the world.

The movie ends with Disney’s hallmark “overarching moral message” manifesting in Judy’s commencement speech for a new batch of Zootopia Police Academy graduates. Something distinct about Judy’s speech separates it from the norm; it was uplifting, yes, but it wasn’t preachy. Maybe it’s because the message had not just accumulated towards the end, but interspersed throughout scenes.

“Real life is messy. [But] the more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each of us will be. But we have to try. So no matter what kind of person you are, I implore you: Try. Try to make the world a better place. Look inside yourself and recognize that change starts with you,” Judy encourages.

Disney appears to be revolutionizing their movie themes and plotlines, but "Zootopia" works not just as adult-friendly kids entertainment but also offers a truly engrossing story and powerfully relevant social commentary.

You don't need "13 reasons" to "fall into place"

A fictitious story of a not-so-fictitious experience