“Zootopia” Is Unethical—But Funny!

I think you should see “Zootopia,” and maybe even let your children see it, provided that you are prepared to spend about two hours deprogramming them afterwards. Thus you may not want to read further unless you want to encounter numerous spoilers.

Children’s stories, TV shows and movies have long been the vehicle for moral and ethical messages, as well as allegories that may or may not worm themselves into unsuspecting juvenile psyches. Because there are young minds involved, engaging in what can be value-warping and indoctrination if not handled with proper humility and care is a high calling, and for the most part, Disney has always been up to the task.

I like Disney animated movies, and always have. I even like some of the flops, like “Treasure Planet.” Pixar, which is now part of the Disney creative empire, has been even more daring and aggressive in ethics story-telling, and has not seriously abused the privilege. Other studios, like DreamWorks, have been more heavy-handed in their moralizing. No animated film in memory, however, has set out to pound specific political and social points of view into the brains of kids as blatantly, relentlessly and ambitiously as “Zootopia.”

I should add “incompetently.” Like all fantasies with delusions of social significance, “Zootopia” relies on metaphors, and in this film, they become a tangle of confused and sometimes contradictory and hypocritical messages. Wrapped as they are in an often charming, funny, well-acted and well-plotted piece of technically expert art, these muddled messages approach being sinister. That the film has been almost universally praised—it has an amazing 98% positive rating on the review site “Rotten Tomatoes”—speaks either to a culture-wide conspiracy to turn the next generation into political correctness zombies, or to the mass incompetence of the film reviewing profession. Continue reading

The Hopelessly Muddled Ethics Of Halloween Costumes

anna-rexia

“Anna Rexia”

Clearly, we need some rational ethics standards for Halloween costumes, but I doubt that we will ever have any unless political correctness is removed from the equation. The holiday is by its very nature in bad taste with a heavy dose of defiance. The tradition is all about invoking the things that frighten us, with death being tops on the list. Trivializing death or mocking it is any way is guaranteed to offend somebody. My solution: if it offends you so much, don’t participate in Halloween. Boycott it. Don’t give out candy. Let everyone else—you know, those enough to distinguish reality from make-believe and satire from insults—have a good time once a year.

Once Halloween is transformed into Halloweenie, as so many of the political correctness police would have it, it isn’t Halloween, and isn’t fun. We have properly purged the vandalism that once part of the ritual, and if every possibly offensive disguise and costume is deemed socially unacceptable, all we have left is an annual event where kids dressed in blinking lights (to avoid accidents) get non-sugar candy, fruit, dental floss or contributions to charities while dressed up as non-offensive politicians, Greenpeace captains, cartoon characters, occupations and maybe insects. Then parents x-ray the candy and limit how much of it the kids can eat. As for adults, they not only have to wear costumes that won’t offend their friends and fellow party goers, but also costumes that won’t offend somebody, somewhere, when an officious jerk at a party takes a photo with his phone and posts it for the world. What fun. Continue reading