2016 Films: Zootopia

(WARNING: Spoilers to the film will be in this post)

I’m a BIG fan of Disney films. You could tell me all the problematic things about Disney and their capitalist plans etc but honestly, when I walk into the Disney store and see the life size Stitch stuffed toys and the new Star Wars lightsabers and the mugs – oh my god the ADORABLE mugs – I just want absolutely everything.

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I didn’t catch the earlier Disney film out this year, which was The Good Dinosaur, but I made it my goal to see Zootopia (or named Zootropolis over here), as it looked so bright and bubbly. You can sense the aura of adorableness and good humour just from all the promotion and merchandise. The lead character of animated film Zootopia is a wee bunny named Judy Hopps. The film introduces Judy when she is just a young bunny and she performs with confidence in her school project discussing how prey and predators now live in peace and animals can be whatever they want. Judy announces her dreams to become a police officer and even though her parents and a bully try and put down her ideas, she doesn’t give up. You are shown a great training montage as Judy goes through Police Academy with a group of huge predators. Judy manages to use her strength to come top of her class, and honestly during this whole beginning part I was cheering her on. I fell in love with her character and the message the film was setting up. I could sense the underlying ‘adult’ message the film was trying to send off, which is that it targets bigotry in our society. Throughout the masterpiece, certain attitudes call towards the typical behaviours of sexism and racism we see in everyday life. There was tons of scenarios for characters I’m sure everybody will experience growing up and I’m glad certain scenarios can teach kids that they do not make you any weaker or different than everybody else; whether you’re female or male, white or POC.

An example, and beware spoilers, that I found interesting was Nick Wilde’s backstory. He advises Judy never let anybody see her struggle, after a small stand off with Judy and her Police superiors(who, unfortunately because of her being a small bunny, do not see her aspirations to help out on the force as seriously) which leaves Judy a bit shaken. Nick then opens up and tells her how as a kid he wanted to be part of a rangers group. A bit reminiscent of say Brownies or Scouts. It shows a young, enthusiastic Nick with his mumma fox in front of a mirror getting in his uniform and when he goes to the meeting, the other members(who are all ‘prey’ animals) turn on him and terrorize him because he is a ‘predator’. They pin him down and put a muzzle on him, which then leads baby Nick to run out into the street and break down in tears. This scene was very real and reminded me of how a lot of young boys can be bullied into these situations because kids are told all boys should not ‘show weakness’ and that crying or struggling is ‘weak’. Judy eventually warms up to Nick and together they become very close until a small hiccup where Judy publicly announces that ‘predators have a biological trait that makes them aggressive’, she groups predator animals under the term ‘them’ and this really hurts Nick because he thought Judy trusted him and believed in him.

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Obviously I won’t spoil the whole movie here but it was absolutely heartwarming when Judy finally apologized to Nick and they solved the case together and stuck by each other despite their differences and even learnt that they’d make an amazing cop duo. The whole film has small scenarios and moments that are important to both adults and children and I thought they were all very interesting and endearing. I am extremely proud of this film and honestly I recommend everyone thinking of going to see a film at the cinemas should go check it out!

Thanks for reading,

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#WheresRey

This Saturday I would have seen the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens 3 times. I am absolutely in love with the film – from it’s stunning cinematography to it’s amazing cast. When watching it I fell in love and grew greatly attached to the new 3 heroes. Especially Daisy Ridley’s character Rey. Rey is a scavenger who lives alone on the wasteland planet of Jakku, trying to get by and survive until whoever left her returns. She is an amazingly strong character which is perceived in her first few minutes on camera. A beautiful woman who’s appearance is very practical and in no way sexualised or overdone, which as a female audience member I really adored. Ridley’s natural face and scraped back hair left me in awe of her and has recently given me a lot more inspiration to try and get used to my own natural beauty.

(Warning: Spoilers as we go along) As the film progresses Rey is soon accompanied by reluctant hero Finn and small, cutesy droid BB-8. They embark on the risky adventure to get BB-8 back to the resistance headquarters before the First Order can get their hands on the information BB-8 stores. Rey’s importance and talents become very much clear when she steps into the Millennium Falcon. Her pilot skills come naturally and you can see the spark in Han Solo’s eyes when he spots the similarities between him and her. One of my favourite parts is when Han offers her a job with him and Chewbacca and she respectfully turns it down because she wants to return to Jakku. Han turns around and goes “It’s a shame, Chewie kind of likes you.” That part warmed my heart. When the team visit one thousand year old Maz Kanata – Rey comes across a very familiar weapon and when touched relives a lot of thunderous flashbacks. Maz confronts Rey and tells her that it once belonged to Luke Skywalker’s father, then Luke himself and now it calls to Rey. It takes a bit of the film for Rey to come to terms with her new powers and I for one, absolutely adored seeing her use jedi powers. Admittedly when I first saw teasers of The Force Awakens, I believed Finn would be the new jedi, but it makes me incredibly proud that the female lead became the jedi. Daisy Ridley plays Rey’s fear and anxiety of using the force so incredibly well and they definitely chose the perfect actress for Rey.

So on that point, as an avid lover of The Force Awakens and an audience member/consumer who looks up to Daisy Ridley’s character as almost an idol character I have to ask companies such as Disney and Hasbro – where is Rey?

Me and the boyfriend, Will, actually have seen that second set in our local Disney Store and we were both surprised at the fact the Disney set includes an unnamed Stormtrooper and First Order pilot – yet the main character Rey isn’t in there?! We discussed it could be due to trying to keep an equal ratio of hero characters to villains but even then – surely even Captain Phasma would be a more relevant villain character than an unnamed stormtrooper? Let’s just admit to the sexism here. Disney really didn’t want to put a female character in this set.

This isn’t the first time Disney’s messed up with what characters they put in their sets. When Age of Ultron came out, I believe Disney or a company released a set that included Black Widow’s motorbike she rides in the chase scene, however instead of making a Black Widow figurine – they replaced her with Captain America, who actually does not even ride the motorbike in that scene. What gives toy companies?!

As a consumer, in the future I will be buying a hell of a lot of Rey merchandise. If companies are convinced female characters will not sell, I think the audience should prove them wrong. These toys are not gendered and if you are purchasing Star Wars merchandise for a young boy – don’t be put off by Rey being included. Buy your son the badass, inspiring female scavenger. Don’t let these companies believe that Rey, Gamora, Black Widow or any female character won’t sell. Please tweet to Disney and Hasbro and tell them that their choices of not including Rey is completely sexist and as a consumer you will not stand for it.

The hashtag being used on twitter is #WheresRey

Thanks for reading,

Helena x