Why Judy Hopps is my Spirit Animal

I finally had the chance to watch Disney’s Zootopia on a free afternoon. I was so ready–popcorn in hand, cookie dough bites within grasp’s reach, and a fancy vanilla coke to sip on. I settled into my comfy theater chair (Disney Spring’s AMC does it right) expecting another hit from the Walt Disney Animation Studios.

A hit is just what I got.

A perfect, socially-aware, maturely-themed, marvelously funny hit. Disney has done it again, folks.

From the get-go Zootopia captured my imagination–every detail in this mammal-rich world was meticulously thought out by the filmmakers. The different districts of the sprawling urban jungle accommodate different species of mammals, all co-existing in harmony because they have evolved from “savage” primordial beings to sophisticated mammals with heart and drive to be anything they want to be.

Or so we think.

Judy Hopps, an optimistic, spunky little bunny from humble little Bunny Burro, wholeheartedly believes that Zootopia is a glittering Oz full of opportunity and equality, a place where any animal can be anything. She’s right to an extent–she became Zootopia’s first bunny cop, a job usually reserved for the biggest, toughest mammals.  However, Judy’s optimism, although admirable, proves to be blind at times. While Zootopia appears to be a land of opportunity, it also has a gritty underbelly full of prejudice and harsh realties.

Here’s the deal: Judy Hopps is my spirit animal because of her hopeful idealism that sometimes get struck–and struck hard–by reality. She needs Nick Wilde, the sly little fox and Pawpcicle hustler, to balance her out. Nick sees things just as they are (admittedly by being a pessimist) and is able to help her see reality as it is, not as she would like it to be. Here’s the catch: if you can see the world how it is, you are able to realize that it’s not all too bad. You begin to recognize the flaws in your reality, and you  also can find ways to fix those flaws.

There’s a moment in the movie where Judy feels as she has “broken” the world she lives in through her misjudgment and actions. The head chief of the Zootopia PD, however, assures her that “the world has always been broken. That’s why we need good cops.”

Our world that we live in, humans, has always been broken. Sometimes I refuse to see it that way. I want everything to be peachy keen, for every one to get along, for the bad guys to disappear into oblivion. That’s not going to happen overnight–or ever–in my lifetime. The only way anything can happen is for change to start with the people who recognize that the world has always been broken. The people who recognize the broken bits know that the only thing they can do is be their best selves to help make their little corner of the world a little more whole.

Judy Hopps is my spirit animal, everyone, because of her slow realization that the world isn’t the perfect place. Like she says towards the end of the move: “Life’s messy. We all make mistakes.” And it’s ok. While it isn’t perfect, life is still sprawling with opportunity to create a more perfect existence. A perfectly imperfect existence. Perfection is not every the aim–persistence towards perfection, towards the betterment of yourself and the world,  is what truly counts.

Thanks for being my spirit animal, Judy. I’m so glad we’re learning to live in the real world where we can be more aware of our imperfect surroundings. When we’re aware, we can change it.

Let’s do it.





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