Friday, February 17, 2017

Best of 2016, #1: Zootopia

What I Liked About It: 2016 will always be remembered as the year the Klan conquered America, but it’s also the year that saw one of the best (and most entertaining) movies about racism ever made. My daughter loves watching it, then we get to have in depth conversations about the dozen levels of racism subtly portrayed, from benign to malicious, and what’s problematic about each.

So many Rulebook Casefiles! Next week, we’ll spend the whole week on how the movie sets up the climactic scene, so for now let’s focus on one object runner that’s not part of that scene: Nick’s badge.
  • When Officer Hopps falls for the scam being run by Nick Wilde and his partner Finnick, Hopps naively puts a sticker-badge on Finnick, who is pretending to be a toddler.
  • When Hopps extorts Nicks into working with her on his case, Finnick laughs at him and puts the sticker on him: “She hustled you good! You’re a cop now Nick, you’re gonna need one of these! Have fun working with the fuzz!”
  • Later, when Hopps realizes that Nick has sabotaged the investigation, Nick sarcastically points to the sticker and says, “Madam, I have a fake badge. I would never impede your pretend investigation.”
  • Later, Hopps has convinced Nick to apply to be a cop, but then offends him, causing him to throw away his application and rip the sticker off.
  • Finally, after Nick graduates the academy, Hopps puts a real badge on him.
So the fake badge changes in meaning with each exchange: naïve maternalism, to badge of shame, to icon of sarcasm, to representation of dashed hopes, to earnest achievement.  Next week, we’ll focus on the exchange of three objects that are necessary for the plot, but this object is solely a source of meaning, and that meaning grows with each exchange.  

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