Lessons in being yourself from Zootopia
If you haven’t yet had a chance to see the new Disney film, Zootopia, we highly recommend it. There have been plenty of articles written about the movie – from discussing racism with your children to discussing bullying – and we’d like to throw our hat into the ring as well. Several of the characters provide great breeding ground for discussions about learning to be yourself even when it’s hard. If you share this movie with your classroom or even just with your own children, this is a great chance to get in some critical thinking practice about healthy relationships.
Take Judy Hopps for example. Here is a bunny who knows exactly who she wants to be. She can see her goal and is absolutely determined to reach it. In the face of being told by her community and her parents in particular that bunnies don’t do the kind of work that she dreams of, she fights and works very hard to achieve her dream. Judy is able to be herself in the face of harsh reactions from people who don’t think she should or can be what she wants.
In contrast, Nick Wilde’s experiences when he was young discouraged him from being himself. Before he meets Judy, life and the tragic opinion of others have convinced him that no one will accept him for who he wants to be. However, his friendship with Judy does him good. Nick has finally found someone who allows him to be himself. By the end of the show, he appears much more comfortable in his own fur.
These are just a few suggestions – there are plenty of other characters you could talk about including Chief Bogo, Mayor Lionheart, Giselle, Flash, and even Assistant Mayor Bellwether.
If you need some help, here’s a few questions to get you started:
- Did the characters get to be themselves throughout the movie? (You can ask about specific characters.)
- Why or why not?
- Is being a bunny part of who Judy is? Were other characters right to judge her abilities by her looks?
- What about for Nick? (Of course for him, it’s being a fox, not a bunny.)
- Did they treat others well? How or how not?
- Do you think more animals in Zootopia will get to be themselves in the future? Why or why not?
- How could all the characters help everyone feel more comfortable being themselves?
- Can you think of a specific time in the movie when someone did something that helped someone else to be themselves?