Zootopia and the Problem of Being Whoever You Want to Be

Have you seen Zootopia yet? If the answer is no, then you’re missing what is probably the smartest talking animal film ever made. It’s a terrific take on the “country girl wants to be a cop and crack down on crime but no one believes in her” genre (Not sure if that is an official genre, but I’m going to pretend it is for the sake of this post) and offers debates on extremely hot button issues going on. The film in itself is a story about bias, which is important, but they touched on an idea that’s become an emotional nerve for me and that’s the search to become the person you want to be.


Judy Hopps is an optimistic, high energy bunny with a dream of becoming a big city cop who fights crime and brings justice to those who can’t fight for themselves. Her family thinks it’s a terrible idea, her instructor at the police academy thinks it’s a terrible idea and the chief at the Zootopia Police Department thinks it’s a terrible idea and relegates her to parking duty. She keeps a brave face, she does her job as best as she can and refuses to let people see her cry. It’s painful and heartbreaking, but these are the prices you pay when you’re striving towards a dream. You put up with the jerks who say you can’t or those who scoff at you for even trying because you know there’s a bigger picture involved. Disney can be criticized for their sing song approach to realizing and achieving a dream in the past, but this movie seems to take them to task for it and goes deeper than most live action movies do.

Judy dreams of being a servant to the animals in a city that prides itself on unity and being evolutionized, but that’s where she discovers that in order to achieve that level of a dream, you have to earn it. While I won’t give away any spoilers for those that haven’t seen it (and clearly, I want you to), things grow ugly and dark for her as she learns to think on her feet and put aside her own prejudices in solving a mystery that will lead to her being a real police officer and putting the city’s fears at rest. No matter if you’re a writer going for that bigger audience, starting your life over in a new surrounding, or just a smaller goal that means something to you, you have to take risks and make sacrifices and be prepared for whatever test is coming your way. If being the person you wanted to be were easy, we’d be born a fully realized and content human. But we’re not meant to settle for what’s handed to us, we should always be striving for something better and something that makes others lives better. You’ll never get exactly what you imagined, but chances are you’ll get something that was better.



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