TylerG | Salt Lake City Weekly

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Re: “Beasts of One Notion


Your interpretation of the movie is exactly what I had tried to articulate. You nailed it on the head. Really. That is a description of a great message that is as universal as it is timeless and of this movie itself.

The other half of what I had attempted to express is that that message is put, sometimes detrimental to it's own power, to use in an imperfect metaphor. The movie is not harmful to the sensibilities of the young, but it does confuse natural behavioral traits with stereotypes.

To use the sloth in the DMV makes perfect comedic sense. Sloths are slow, the DMV can be a nightmarishly slow experience, that's funny. Yes, we are surprised to see the sloth behind the wheel of the speeding car and it is a fantastically clever way of playing with the audience's expectations, but their main behavioral trait is used in such negative context, native to the story itself. Therefore these perceived negative and infuriating behaviors in sloths are the defining characteristics of the people who work at the DMV. That's not fair.

That's stereotyping, by the story tellers, of the performance of the people at the DMV, when they are on the job.

But my point, muddled as it seems, is not to stick up for the people at the DMV, or the 'savage' real world counterparts, it is that simply 'Zootopia' is a beautiful movie with its heart in the right place, but it was put together around the framework of a flawed metaphor.

That's all - great movie, flawed movie.

And Mr. Renshaw and even Ms Taylor from Globe and Mail (on a totally different site, but mentioned here with equal vitriol) getting absolutely lambasted for having a different take on the film really confused and angered me. Not in defense of them, but as a movie watcher. (Like that great Seinfeld episode - Father Curtis: "And this offends you as a Jewish person?" Jerry: "No, it offends me as a comedian!")

I understand that that is not what you were doing and appreciate your thoughts.

10 likes, 35 dislikes
Posted by TylerG on 03/06/2016 at 6:13 PM

Re: “Beasts of One Notion

Sean-Luc -

I really like your post, it is a fun way to look at that last scene with the sloth. So let's take it further, as should be done by free thinking, thoughtful individuals like us-

Why, for the love of everything under the sun, IS BEING SLOW SOMETHING FOR THE SLOTH TO 'OVERCOME'?

And how does anyone not see how horrifying this is?

Do Black people need to 'OVERCOME' being black?

Do autistic people need to 'OVERCOME' being autistic, which by this rationale would mean 'stop being autistic'?

How is it not clear to movie viewers that this over simplification of an entire species, boiled down to one trait and painted as negative is harmful?

Shouldn't we all be celebrating each other's DIFFERENCES? Not identifying them, pointing them out and then ASKING THEM TO CHANGE?

This is what happened to all of the 'savage' animals, not just the sloth.

You are absolutely right, two scenes with a bad after-taste are NOT enough to sink an entire movie. But they are enough to taint the good intentions of all the overall message.

I really like this movie, but just as I'm leery of watching 'National Treasure' to learn about history (because...duh) I'm leery of using using 'Zootopia' as a moral and ethical compass because, well...duh.

Nor would I irrationally defend it just because it's cute, or popular, or funny. It is all of those things, but I don't turn my brain off and ignore everything else I know about how to treat people in this world.

12 likes, 23 dislikes
Posted by TylerG on 03/06/2016 at 1:11 PM

Re: “Beasts of One Notion

Well said, Mr. Renshaw,
'Zootopia' is a funny and beautiful animated movie with a good idea for a great message, but the metaphor is simply imperfect, awkward, and sometimes hurtful to the message itself.
Most glaringly is that because the animals in the movie had to 'evolve' from being savage beasts, the implication is that their human counterparts in the real world must have at one time in history been savage beasts themselves and had to change their natural habits to fit in. They had to be tamed. To what group of real people are we to believe the story tellers are alluding here? It's not a flattering comparison for any one.
It is the behaviour of the 'savages' that had to change so they could fit in with the other animals in Zootopia. It wasn't that the animals of Zootopia evolved to become more tolerant and sympathetic. If only the predators would stop acting like God made them (you know - predators) everything would be better for everybody. In other words, if the people who do things we don't agree with in this world would stop doing those things, that would be better.
It is disheartening to read so many negative responses to your review. I'm actually offended, not for you, but as a thoughtful and appreciative lover of movies. I was hoping that the last few years of Netflix and Amazon binge watching would help people to view and understand movies on a deeper level. To view movies with a keener eye for story and metaphor and the intent of the artist, and each artist's failure or success at conveying their ideas. Alas...
I feel I must mention one more element in this movie that left me aghast at its audacity and shamelessness. It is the moment when Nick the Fox and Judy the bunny are rifling through a car, looking for clues. Nick comes across a few CD's by a fictional artist specializing in crooner songs, holds them up and says, apropos of nothing, "who listens to CD's anymore anyway?".
At the moment it just seemed like an unfunny and weird jab at CD listeners. It was a minute or so later that it dawned on me:
Judy was clearly using a movie version of an iPhone, from the screen layout to the bitten-carrot stand-in for the bitten-apple icon on Apple iPhones.
You can't put a CD into an iPhone. You know what you can do with an Apple iPhone? Download music from iTunes, stream movies, games, etc, etc, etc. spend money. The artists, nee, business people who made this movie clearly have no problem endorsing Apple products, but when a line a dialogue was written to push sales, I was floored.
Here is the ultimate irony - in an animated movie professing to spread a message of tolerance and acceptance is a line of dialogue BULLYING an entire generation of consumers (the 5-year-olds in the theatre) to not buy CD's.
The message is clear: "Who listens to CD's anyways?" Answer: Not cool people, that's for sure.
Maybe they'll evolve and come around to our way of thinking. That would be best.

16 likes, 70 dislikes
Posted by TylerG on 03/05/2016 at 1:54 AM

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