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Friday, December 08, 2017 

The AV Club has a problem with anti-abortion Zootopia fancomics

The AV Club's voicing dismay at some manga-style fancomics on the web featuring characters from the Zootopia cartoon, which take a pro-life vision:
...there’s another side to this culture of fandom, one wherein an anti-abortion advocate feels a Zootopia fan comic is the best vessel for sharing their views.

See, Zootopia is a sweet, funny animated Disney film about a con artist fox and a rabbit police officer who team up to solve a mystery. Color us surprised, then, when we read the above tweet from Onion Labs copywriter Eric Munn, who stumbled upon this alternate reality where a cartoon fox tells a character named Officer Judy Hopps not to have an abortion. “I beg you—please let your light continue to shine through him or her!” Nick the fox pleads.

The whole comic is similarly histrionic, with Nick sneering about “premeditated sin” after admonishing Judy for “kill[ing] our baby for your career.” Nick, the hero (?) of this story, later abandons Judy in a way that makes Judy’s ordeal entirely about him.
Not entirely, if this other panel says something. It looks like they had a fight and she scratched him, though when I read further on the official site, she did regret and apologize. I'll admit, that was probably going too far, and maybe it would've been better if the cartoonist had avoided going the ugly spat route. But sneering? I couldn't tell if he actually did that in the finished product. Are they parchance trying to make it sound worse than it is?

All that aside, the movie's not quite as "sweet" as they claim, since, according to Acculterated, it's got some kind of male-bashing message stealthed in, and the AV Club's writer didn't mention the cartoon's about a girl bunny who wants to be the first lady policewoman/detective coming from a bunny background:
But when it comes to the politics of Zootopia—a magical land considered a “utopia” because there are no humans in it—you’re going to need a stronger word than “heavy-handed.”

I know that this is a movie intended primarily for grade-schoolers, and to be fair, there are positive lessons throughout the film. But it was difficult to avoid the feeling that Zootopia was trying way too hard to be politically correct. Every third film these days—animated or otherwise—is about a female character who isn’t taken seriously (or worse) by male characters who prove to be her intellectual and/or moral inferior. Yes, young girls should be raised to believe that they can achieve their dreams, but Hollywood’s relentless insistence that females must want to do everything men do (and are better than men) is growing wearisome.

As well, teaching young girls that men will always “have it out for them” is misguided. Not every male boss thinks his female employees are dolts. And not every male boss is a dolt himself. It’s lazy storytelling and encourages female prejudices against men. Even the movie’s humorous takedown of the Department of Motor Vehicles bureaucracy—DMV employees are molasses-slow sloths—goes on too long.
There's also this LA Times article about the making that raises eyebrows:
The filmmakers brought in an array of experts as they designed the world, from zoologists, who advised on how each species should move, to specialists on the Americans With Disabilities Act, who helped construct a city where a 2-inch character and a 27-foot character could coexist, to HVAC system designers, who puzzled over how to build a tundra neighborhood next to a desert one.

Female police officers spoke with the filmmakers about challenges they faced—including having trouble finding male officers willing to partner with them. In the case of Judy Hopps, who also faces difficulty being taken seriously as a police officer, animators used small scale to dramatize her struggle, as she struggled to hop up on a chair in the police department.
Apparently, they didn't bring in any male police officials to tell what it's like to work with/for a lady counterpart, and it honestly doesn't ring true no guys would be willing to work with a girl...unless it's due to the worries now going around about sexual harassment, especially in an age when Harvey Weinstein's doubtless had an impact on the psyche. I guess that never occurred to them?

PJ Media's view of the cartoon is even more damning, stating that it obscures any distinctions in its moralizing:
The message isn't entirely without merit. Bigotry is certainly a negative force which should be opposed. However, no distinction is made in the film between bigotry and the recognition of legitimate differences. The moral of the story is that "anyone can be anything." It's meant in both the occupational and metaphysical sense. The film literally rejects biology, promoting the notion that how people identify should define how they are regarded in spite of what they actually are. At one point, a young canine's desire to grow up and become an elephant is treated as healthy and valid. The allusion to real-world trans issues is obvious.
It sure is a lot different from the anthropomorphic cartoons and comics of yesteryear, where you'd have animals walking on 2 feet and using their hands to hold objects, but beyond that weren't trying to be a lifeform entirely different from what they officially were. That's hardly a good message for youngsters, and makes me wonder if it's even a good idea to draw up fancomics dedicated to a product whose politics mostly stand in contradiction to one's own.

It sure is odd using a cartoon with possible male-bashing as a vehicle for a story balking at abortion as the basis for a fancomic, and honestly, I don't think the cartoonist should've made the Hopps character out to look like such a jerk. But the AV Club's not helping matters by making light of issues like abortion, let alone the cartoon's own putdown of menfolk or the potential allusions to trans topics. Besides, if they don't like the fancomic, they don't have to read it, let alone go to all that trouble to let anybody know it exists. In hindsight, all that bunny business doesn't age well, and isn't all that amusing either.

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Zootopia's "male bashing" is pretty subtle. The evil genius of the piece is a female (who went bad because she had been undervalued and patronized by her male boss). My objection to the movie is that Disney stories used to have messages for everyone, like "family is important" or "bravery and hope will win out". The messages now are "There are no enemies other than our own bigotry and stupidity" (Zootopia), "women are powerful,should go their own way and men suck"(Frozen). "Men need to help women become all they can be" - Cars 3. I also don't think the female centric recent Disney films and the Clinton candidacy are isolated events.

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