The Power of Animals
This year I have been dragged to many of the animated films that have starred animals. Around every corner, there seems to be another movie that is riddled with either what animals do when we are not watching or how they would deal with some of our current circumstances. So why are Illumination, Disney, and our favorite animation studios partaking in such a sub-genre? My take is that it speaks to many of the adversities we face in our culture today. Many types of animals are involved in these films and are shown working together despite their image, class, or their primitive instinct.
Living In Tension
My favorite feline animated movie growing up was All Dogs Go to Heaven. This was a lovely movie that took on some of the plot of Scarface and sprinkled in some of its own interpretations of heaven. Wow… that sounds like a great church series.
But, with some of the movies that have surfaced lately, I think some magical comparisons can be made between how these animals react and how it calls for those within our world to step up. Sensitive subjects such as race, class, and self-image can be discussed underneath the cuteness of talking rabbits and foxes.
I don’t think that these animated animal movies would have much draw if it were just singular species. Imagine if Zootopia was filled only with rabbits or if The Secret Life of Pets was a story of just wiener dogs. Yes, they could probably get a few lame laughs in, but the material would soon turn dry and they would be significantly less entertaining. Different species cohabitating is what makes these movies enjoyable. Species and characters are embedded with their own preconceived thoughts, habits, instincts, and diversity. Each one of these movies must deal with the tension between these factors.
Am I saying that these movies are profound and deserve impeccable Rotten Tomato scores? Absolutely not. Although, these animals appear to have a better ability to live in diversity than many of us today. Whether it be religious, political, or sexual, we do not want to live in tension with others and their beliefs. We want to be comfortable. Little is diversity encouraged and used to engage in dialogue and seek better understanding.
An affirmation that has been told to adolescents is “just be yourselves.” While there is importance behind individuality, there are many lessons that are forgotten when this is the sole aspiration. The moral amplitude of even movies like Zootopia calls for greater action. Don’t settle for being the same creature with basic instincts: Be better.