Disney Identity

26 Jun 2016

My treat of the week was going to see Zootopia in the local second-run movie theatre ($3 tickets, woot woot!).

It was great. Going to the movies is always a good escape and Zootopia was the perfect mix (for me) of escaping into a fantastic and cleverly built world, while still gently addressing important issues (prejudice, stereotyping) in a thoughtful way.

I’ve kept thinking about the movie, and some of those thoughts (weirdly enough) have been related to seeing the movie poster, which says Zootopia is by the folks who did Frozen and Big Hero 6. I know this is a standard animation studio practice (listing your most recent films), but the juxtaposition of those titles (and the knowledge that this branch of Disney animation also did Wreck-It Ralph) has made me think about what those movies have in common.

Big Hero 6 is the oddball of the bunch; in the other three, I see a pattern of identity conflict. In all three movies, the resolution to the story involves one or more main characters coming to terms with their identity, both internally and in relation to their world.

I know that most (good) storytelling is built around character growth, where the protaganist changes by the end of the story, so this pattern might be much more prevelant in movies generally and I’ve just noticed it in this collection. But it feels like these films are slightly different - that the conflict of the story is driven by underlying issues of identity and where the character’s growth is specifically around who they are and their relationship to others instead of fixing some internal flaw or changing their mind about something.

As a post-script: I have appreciated the clinically/socially accurate depictions of identity in these movies (the problems of repression in Frozen, the excellent language around bias and stereotype in Zootopia, the co-opting of 12 step program ideas in Wreck-It Ralph, and, to include a Pixar movie of the same general vintage, Inside Out and its literal depiction of an emotional journey). If this is part of a Disney plot to educate kids, and/or their parents, about what it means to know who you are and how to be in the world, I’d give it a thumbs up so far!

[1] My grumpy “get off my lawn” self has always lamented that “Let It Go” exploded into such popularity, not for any musical reasons, but simply because the song represents only a piece of the movie’s message and taken on its own, is a unhelpful way to think about forming your identity.

response » movies, disney, identity, culture,

Recent Posts



Popular Tags

ACT (2) RCF (6) Software Carpentry (6) books (3) care and keeping of prs (6) collaboration (9) computing (13) culture (10) empowerment (6) family (2) gender (2) git (9) hope (2) language (3) lessons (4) math (8) mental health (2) movies (2) personal (5) problem solving (3) programming (9) science (2) self care (3) shell (2) teaching (11) true story (5) tutoring (2) work (12)