“Coast to Coast AM” A UFO Show, but for Mormons?

by Danny Stout

UFO’s, ghosts, ghost-hunters, Big Foot, Area 51, crop circles, and cryptzoology are some of the topics on the radio show, “Coast to Coast AM.” Airing between 1am and 5am, it’s the most popular early morning program with 2.5 million weekly listeners. Over 600 stations carry the show. The format combines live callers and expert interviews. In an age when science and religion are the dominant modes of truth, “Coast to Coast” proves that belief in the paranormal occupies the culture in a big way.

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The UFO phenomenon, or ufology, dominates the show. The listener immediately senses “believer” apologetics. A guest claims to verify your alien abduction through DNA testing. Others speak of handwriting on Martian mountains; an author speaks of civilizations in the center of the earth. The host, George Noory, praises guests and callers no matter how bizarre. Pseudo-scientific experts synthesize empiricicism, mysticism, religion, and the paranormal. “Scientific,” “data,” and “confirmed” are freely used terms. It’s hybrid entertainment at its best; a virtual stew of postmodern philosophies where nothing’s ruled out. Veracity of UFO’s is a central belief, and everyone has a sighting story. “Incredible!” Noory exclaims, and assures, “I believe you.”

Clairvoyants have given way to pseudoscientists quoting studies outside the paradigms of the mainstream scientific community, making it difficult to discern valid studies from heresay and conjecture. Pseudoscience empowers believers, and gives fence-sitters confidence to participate in the UFO dialogue. Given the expanding popularity of ufology, it’s time to ask where the LDS community fits into this expanding genre of popular culture.

Mormon cosmology suggests the probability of other worlds. In Moses 1:33, 35, we read:

“And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten. But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.”

     More recently, Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s book, Not My Will, But Thine states, “Of these worlds we learn further that ‘the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God’ (D&C 76:24).

But, mentioning UFO’s in Priesthood Meeting or Most-Beautiful-UFO-Wallpaper.jpgRelief Society will turn heads. Mormon discourse hasn’t emphasized other worlds for decades. In the Cold War Era, however, Mormons like other Americans, speculated about such objects in the sky. Russians and Americans were launching rockets and testing nuclear weapons. Landing men on the moon prompted speculation about life elsewhere. The UFO cottage industry included magazines, comic books, movies, and TV shows such as Lost in Space and My Favorite Martian with Bill Bixby. Star Trek would soon follow.

Today, the subject is low on the Lord’s agenda, particularly in terms of General Conference instruction. Coast to Coast AM is an unlikely source for Sunday School lesson preparation. Value lies in awareness that so many of our neighbors embrace the paranormal. The second reason for listening is entertainment; many shows are over-the-top, attracting audiences for advertising revenue. With all due respect for believers, CTC is so much theater, and what a wonderful show it is.

While some of Noory’s guests are credible, so much is hilariously over-the-top. Noory’s predecessor, Art Bell, was a notorious radio entertainer with guests such as the “Three Headed Man,” Elvira, Bobo, and Walter, the latter died of an aneurism before the show, his atrophied head covered by a hoodie sweatshirt. Bell claimed a guest was spinning his coffee cup by telekinesis on the air.

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Frequent UFO sightings around the world.

 

 

 

 

The circus-like program nevertheless claims a respectable position in popular culture. How can one ignore an audience of 2.5 million people? Offhandedly dismissing it impedes a chance to apply the discipline of cultural studies, particularly the significance of story and the symbolism of myth. In the Betty and Barney Hill alien abduction tale, the space visitors are disappointed with eathlings’ low-level intelligence and morality. Thus they take off for another planet. As an open text, the story may have a point. Perhaps the human race hasn’t lived up to its potential. Then there’s the show on mushrooms contaminated by radioactivity near Chernobyl. Millions of contaminated agaricus bisporus are spreading throughout the world, but are they dangerous? No, for some reason they’re illuminating global warming. Ludicrous at one level, but symbolic of the belief that the world heals itself.

Don’t quote Coast to Coast in Church, but treat yourself to one of the most engrossing programs radio has to offer. Then put on your anthropologist hat: these stories tell us more about culture than the National Geographic Channel.

 

 

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“The Barkley Marathons:” A Documentary about Giving Up

by Danny Stout

Forty at the starting line; none at the finish line. Usually. The Barkley Marathons: The Race that Eats its Young is the saga of an ultra-marathon with 14 finishers in 30 years. The eerily quirky documentary depicts a five 20-mile loop course where runners rip through rough punishing Tennessee terrain; high altitude with snow to low humid valleys. Rain. Muddy marshes. Sleep time is minimal with the 60-hour time limit.

     The idea, “Laz” Lake says, came from James Earl Ray, the assassin of Martin Luther king that escaped Bushy Mountain State 635704960738463422-barkley-photos02Penitentiary in 1977, only to cover eight miles in 55 hours. Images of the hapless criminal agonizingly befuddled by the dense thorny landscape, made such an impression on Lake, that he conceptualized an endurance event with minimal chances of completion. The film’s more about stories, rituals, and folklore, than the marathon itself. Laz, a jovial yet borderline sadistic Dickensian character, belly laughs as the course crunchily smashes participants like army boots crushing slow roaches on a cement floor. “Ha, ha, ha, done already? That sucks! You suck!” A bugle plays “Taps” for each non-finisher.

     Hopefully, his fiendish demeanor is façade, but the traditions are everything to Barkley’s founder, most of which are narcissistic and egocentric. A lengthy essay, “Why I Should be Allowed to Run the Barkley Marathons” accompanies each application with a measly check for $1.60. Forty runners are hand-selected from hundreds of hopefuls; each must bring a present. They range from license plates to this year’s flannel shirts that Laz gloatingly holds up to admire sarcastically.

Baffling is the “sacrificial lamb,” a person selected that’s ill-prepared, and obviously uninformed about the treachery. “This person has no business being here,” Cantrell chortles. “Back already?” he booms as the conquered staggers back to camp after a quick couple of hours. What he gains from the prank requires a therapist, but he revels in the defeated.

Barklay is a platform for Laz’s ruminations, falling short of philosophy: “Graduate students do well; they think before doing it.” Obviously, it is a daunting undertaking, but the organizer doesn’t articulate a purpose beyond the standard: hard things teach you something. Even the name of the event bewilders; Mr Barkley is a Viet Nam buddy Laz respects. Barkley has never attended, struggling to grasp why the event is named after him. “Some day I’ll go over there and check it out,” he responds, clearly mystified.

The documentary requires a post-viewing thought session to discern it coherently. An easy chair with the beverage of your choice video-featured(I recommend Yerba mate “Orange Exuberance” to stimulate the brain cells) is recommended while untangling the puzzle. The ultra-marathoner instantly takes something away; typical viewers won’t, I surmise. The initial tendency of focusing on the heroic finishers leaves one unsatisfied. Not that Jared Campbell, who won in 2012, 14, and 16, and Brett Maune with the record-holding time of 52 hours and three minutes don’t deserve the highest accolades. Completing a physical task of such magnitude deserves a documentary and subsequent film review all their own. The camera’s deviation from the actual running to the crestfallen quitters suggests that this is more about the misunderstood allure of failure. Or, whether the concept of losing is merely a psychological construction.

The Aristotelian notion of auto-telics, or doing something for its own sake is a dominant theme. The action exceeds the result. One by one, battered souls with blistered heels and toes succumb to Laz’s endless guffaws. But, a strange fulfillment is clear; they don’t seem to hear the bearded bully. While winning dominates the West, these warriors are more like the barefoot indigenous Taramahara of Mexico. Once they get started, running is about humility, ceremony, and a coming-of-age rite of passage. Where you finish is of little consequence. The physical and, perhaps the psychologically painful test, is the prize of high meaning.

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In my twenties, I entered two marathons, dropping out of the first at 16 miles, ten from the finish line. About a year later, I completed the 26-mile run with energy to spare (not much, I admit). Surprisingly, I treasure the failure most. The mental cornucopia of thoughts, ideas, and knowledge of self remain salient in my memory today, while I can hardly remember the day I conquered the course. I’m reminded of Janet Fitch’s thought, “The phoenix must burn to emerge.”

Within the Church, are there alternative ways of seeing failure? Could the losers really be champions? When Polish sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski began the statue of Lakota barkely-composite-blog427-v3American Indian leader Crazy Horse in 1948, the largest statue in the world was envisioned. Well before his death in 1982 at 74, he realized it would not be completed in his lifetime. Yet he labored on undaunted. What went through his mind as he chiseled day after day on something that may never be realized? Was it his love for art itself? Perhaps he was undyingly committed to a people that had lost their sacred home? May be it was an indiscernable feeling that derives from the flow creativity mixed with sweat of the brow. His work carries on today, with the University of South Dakota carrying out his vision with a center at the foot of the Memorial still in progress.

Be careful not to judge the “loser” or the “ne’er-do-well,” or the “drop-out.” Their relationship with Christ, although often misunderstood, deserves more respect and less judgment.

 

“Trump-tainment:” Who Takes the Prize?

by Danny Stout

The Donald Trump media phenomenon is a postmodern blend of politics and theater. My comments are apolitical; they’re about the amusement of Trump. Who wins the prize for “Best Trump-tainment,” or journalism designed to donaldtrumphairflyinggratify, placing less emphasis on civic matters? Burgeoning audiences sustain this spectacle as the ratings skyrocket. More advertising revenue in the coffers. Commendable are those fleeing to the PBS News Hour, Charlie Rose, and the New York Times for issues-based news. Millions say no, however, enjoying Donald the barker over Trump the politician. Who can resist the bombastic barnstormer; no one like him has occupied the public square in a century. We’re drawn to spectacle; it’s as engaging as other media of pop culture (e.g., TV dramedy, movies, etc.), and it provides deserved relaxation at the end of a long day. Again, I don’t judge Donald Trump as a political candidate. How well media present him as a thespian is the only goal here. Hopefully, the frameworks for trump-tainment criticism will expand.

Trump isn’t the first candidate to rely on an entertainment-heavy campaign. Lincoln honed the art of sarcasm, and who can forget Reagan’s snarky comment that Jimmy Carter’s message on 60 Minutes only took one minute. FDR had a quick and dry wit, and to Teddy Roosevelt, political pundits were “copper-riveted idiots” and “circumcised skunks.” Responding to the question of why Calvin Coolidge decided not to seek re-election, he told Yankee magazine in 1897, “Because there’s no chance for advancement.”

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These candidates are light years from the drama and antics of Trump-tainment. Political issues dominated their speeches; Rough Rider Teddy Roosevelt, rousing as he was, is no match for the hurricane of name-calling, shouting, and screaming debates, not to mention physical altercations between protesters and campaign managers. Get the popcorn popping and Dr. Pepper flowing as we review programs depicting the spectacle in the style of Barnum and Bailey. “Step right up!”

Verbal pugilism is an apt starting point. Some 192f49a7f50a4eda4351fa7249b587e318d1aaf4call it aggression, some theatrics, but its sports-style coverage is in the same class as a UFC match. Kick-boxing isn’t nearly as compelling as a presidential candidate yell, “Throw em out! Throw em out!” Repeated video clips of Trump’s manager grabbing the shirt of a protester turned CNN into sportscasting. “Did you see that? He grabbed the protester’s collar!” The co-host responds, “No I think that was the man behind him; it’s hard to say there was physical contact.” Videos rolled again when the manager grabbed a journalist, bruising her arm. “No way! She attached him!” Trump screamed.

Then it happened. A Trump supporter sucker-punched a protester in the face as he climbed the stairs of an arena. CNN runs this tape again and again with commentators acting like boxing commentators. “Would you do it again?” the reporter asks the puncher, “Yeah, next time I’d kill him!” Trump’s response fuels the fire of the fight coverage. “If he’s sued, I’ll pay the legal costs,” Trump shouts. The best fight-coverage by journalists goes to CNN.

Winner for “most entertaining headlines,” is the New York Daily News going away. In New York, Chicago, Boston, and other major metro areas, the printed headline incites the day’s conversation. First, are the general Trump heads:

“DAWN OF THE BRAIN DEAD”

“MAKE AMERICA MIGRATE”

“CRUZ-IFIED”

“CLOWN RUNS FOR PREZ”

HIS endorsement by Sarah Palin inspired these headlines:

“I’M WITH STUPID!”

“LADY AND THE TRUMP”

Walking up to a Manhattan newsstand, you’re already chuckling. The hard-hitting, thought-provoking front pages that summarize the fight to the White House deserve our prize for Trump-tainment in the headline category.

There’s nothing more enjoyable than seeing a politician unprepared, especially when its about a major issue. Thus the prize for “Best Surprise Interview Question” goes to MSNBC’s Chris Mathews. On the matter of abortion, Trump was ill-prepared to the point where he boldly said women should be punished for abortions:

TRUMP: Are you Catholic?
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think …
TRUMP: And how do you feel about the Catholic Church’s position?
MATTHEWS: Well, I accept the teaching authority of my church on moral issues.
TRUMP: I know, but do you know their position on abortion?
MATTHEWS: Yes, I do.
TRUMP: And do you concur with the position?
MATTHEWS: I concur with their moral position but legally, I get to the question — here’s my problem with it …
(LAUGHTER)
TRUMP: No, no, but let me ask you: But what do you say about your church?
MATTHEWS: It’s not funny.
TRUMP: Yes, it’s really not funny. What do you say about your church? They’re very, very strong.
MATTHEWS: They’re allowed to — but the churches make their moral judgments, but you running for president of the United States will be chief executive of the United States. Do you believe …
TRUMP: No, but …
MATTHEWS: Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no, as a principle?
TRUMP: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.
MATTHEWS: For the woman?
TRUMP: Yes, there has to be some form.

The top high-art donald-trump-blasts-worthless-daily-news-after-paper-mocks-his-zombie-supportersTrump-tainment prize is a three-way tie between filmmaker Michael Moore, Actress/Artist Tilda Swinton, and Eleanor Margolis of the StatesMan. They claim the entire Trump phenomenon is performance art. Intentional or not, they argue, the greatest value is in reading Trump as a character in a fictional narrative. Tilda Swinton, 2017 Turner Prize winner claims Trump is a post-9/11, post-ironic, pre-apocalyptic performance piece. Margolis wonders when the whole thing will be revealed as such an artwork, not reality.

Finally, the best YouTube Trump-tainment video captures the following quote:

“There may be somebody with tomatoes in the audience,” Trump warned people at a rally in Iowa last month. “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. Okay? Just knock the hell — I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.”

A close second goes to the New York Post video of former Trump wife Ivana reacting to his deportation-oriented stance on immigration: “Who is going to vacuum our floors and clean our living rooms?”

Naming an overall donald trump sarah palin 2winner is impossible given its complexity and multiple dimensions. Is it ethical to recognize something like Trump-tainment? There’s something uneasy in watching a presidential race like a situation comedy or a dramedy, or a reality show. Even more compelling is that Trump is seen as an actor, not a statesman nor candidate for the most powerful position in the world. If he was, journalists would insist on more than the superficial rhetoric he dishes out. But, that’s no fun! Yet it’s sad. I laugh, but get that twinge of anxiety intermittently. Snapping out of it, I say to myself, “He’s fighting for the forgotten people by Washington; those crushed by the 2008 economic crash. Perhaps an entertainer can do no worse. Then, I’m, reminded of David Brooks in the New York Times: “Trump’s supporters deserve respect. They are left out of this economy. But Trump himself? No, not Trump, not ever.” For president, that is. As an entertainer, he’s even better than Jimmy Kimmel.

Just a Bunch of “Dudes”

By Bryce Marvin

Once upon a time there were five Texas A&M Seniors, Cory and Coby Cotton, Cody Jones, Tyler Toney, and Garrett Hilbert, that decided to record a few trick shots they were doing in their backyard. After several hours of filming, they had a three and a half minute video that caught the attention of thousands of viewers. Within a few days, ABC invited them on their news program. They were so impressed that they argued whether it could possibly be real, and even Diane Sawyer called the shots “mouthwatering.”

Although the crew at Dude perfect knew they had to do something even bigger if they ever hoped to keep their fame going.

In September of 2009, they released their video titled, “World’s Longest Basketball Shot” where the dudes threw a basketball from the nose bleed stands at their college football stadium and drained it. That video made it on the front of Yahoo!, and just within a couple of hours has received two million views. It was being viewed everywhere; from Spain to Israel and many more. And thus Dude Perfect was born and destined to be YouTube sensations.

Since the release of their first few videos, Dude Perfect has gained 9.27 million subscribers maxresdefault-1and more than 1.53 billion total video views. Their tricks have evolved over time from crazy basketball shots to archery trick shots, paintball trick shots, golf shots, go-kart tricks, and more. They have made videos representing different stereotypes, such as those you may see on a basketball court, a golf course, or even at the movie theaters. Having grown up together, they seem like a bunch of brothers who are always pushing one another to do something a little better than the last one. There is no doubt that they are all best friends and love to tease each other and have a good time.

Their popularity has blown up over the past few years. Their quirky and spontaneous style has caught the attention of major companies such as Ruffles, Southwest Airlines, Nerf, Bass Pro shop and the list goes on and on. They have even had professional athletes as guests on a number of their episodes. Their most recent exciting announcement is their new TV show that will premier April 14, 2016.

Beyond all the attention and success that they have had, their most impressive talent is their humble attitude and their dedication to their strong Christian background.

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In an interview with The Daily Dot, Coby Cotton said, “We’ve all been fortunate enough to grow up with families that help teach us about faith and what we believe. That’s been essential to us throughout this whole process. We don’t have an underlying goal of converting people, but we do know that we have a platform that’s been a gift to us. We want to use that in a way that’s honoring God.”

On top of their videos, Dude Perfect is working to raise awareness of problems in the world that need addressing such as poverty and the clean water crisis in Africa.

It is comforting to see the success that these friends are able to have as they have stayed true to their beliefs. Finding family friendly entertainment only gets harder each day, but it is refreshing to know that there are successful groups who remind us where all good things come from.

 

Brief Thoughts on “Prince”

by Danny Stout

The performer “Prince,” known for seven years as the “Artist Formerly Known as Prince,” is enigmatic in the LDS community. Synthesizing multiple genres from pop to blues, he broke virtually every convention, and played 12 instruments. His snappy, “Little Red Corvette” was frequently played at BYU ballroom dance competitions. The song, “Purple Rain” and subsequent movie by the same title, has achieved cult status. At 19, his first review in the New York Times said he “was clearly a talented musician.” This was corroborated at the 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when Prince’s  lead guitar performance on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” was a virtuoso’s to tribute to George Harrison.

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No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock (1616482a) Purple Rain, Prince Film and Television

On the one hand, Mormons bristle at the eroticism in some songs and videos; sexuality was an artistic theme in some of his music. On the other, he was a practicing Seventh-Day Adventist that became a Jehovah’s Witness. He wasn’t afraid to disclose his Christianity, which he defined broadly. His was a “feel good” rhythm that had the power to move the passive listener to the dance floor. His dancing rivaled Michael Jackson’s, and was perhaps had more sophisticated choreography.  Some LDS fans describe the artist:

  • “Don’t really care for his music, but you can’t deny his huge cultural impact. Plus he lived a drug free life, which is cool for someone in his position. Deserved respect.”
  • “I am ashamed to say, but I didn’t know who he was til now…  to my defense I do live in seclusion.”
  • “I loved the movie Purple rain for its music but Prince should never had attempted acting. The man could play 27 instruments! That’s amazing! He died too early. Sad.”
  • “There will never be another like him, he was the Prince of Rock.”
  • “All I  know is when I was a teenager and would  sing along with the radio to his songs it would drive my mom nuts!  Especially “When Doves Cry”.  I remember being at a band competition in Nashville  and all the kids who had been involved with the competition dancing to “1999”. We weren’t competitors we were just hundreds of high schoolers dancing to an awesome song.”

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Based an outpouring of critical acclaim, and effusive praise around the globe, Prince is on the level of artists leaving  behind an enduring body of work. Following the time-lag hypothesis, LDS fans will likely discover him in the future; he won’t be the first genius to be shunned by religionists initially, only to be praised later. Gauguin, Dali, DuChamp, and even Frank Zappa were initially rebuked by clergies, but gained appreciation as time passed. Zappa’s orchestral “Peaches in Regalia” performed in cathedrals, testifies to this rear-view mirror phenomenon. Such is likely with Prince in the LDS community.  He’ll be heard at church dances.

Encore Review: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

By Dean Duncan

This is an effective package. The mystery really is mysterious, has some heft, resolves in a satisfying way. It raises bigger issues which, though (over) familiar—villainous patriarchy as the root of villainous capitalism, or vice versa—are fair enough. The double-barrel detecting is also effective, what with two insufficient methods and two incomplete (circumstantially, dispositionally) characters combining to lick the platter clean. The character part of this equation is a bit strained, but movies seek symmetry, so that’s okay. There’s some effective cinema here as well.  Their photographic investigations evoke a similar sequence in Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up, and aren’t too disadvantaged in the comparison.

Let’s get down to it. What about this rape sequence? Well, it’s very unpleasant, and not just for the obvious reasons. Part of the problem has to do with this rapist-social worker’s The-Girl-with-the-Dragon-Tattoo-2.pngcontrived, hyperbolic wickedness. Yes, it makes Lisbeth’s vengeance satisfying. It also justifies the monstrousness of that vengeance—after all, he only got what he had coming. And when you think of it, the punishment that she inflicts is not only infernally imaginative, but purgatorially (Dante) apt; the punishment not only corresponds with the offence, it equals the offence. The rape episode is grotesque, but it isn’t just gratuitous. Rather, it’s a cynical, probably defensible statement about the nature of power and its exercise. It is also a emphatic antidote to that exercise; here and subsequently this woman is refusing to be a victim. This sequence is also structurally important, constituting a challenge to the main character, the surmounting of which prefigures her intervention at the film’s climax. Here is Lisbeth’s first step away from rootless and wasteful inertia, her first step on the road to a form of selfhood.

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The thing is that like a lot of screen violence and sexuality, the rape in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo works better, is more supportable and palatable, as a concept. And not as a concept visualized. And come to think of it, in the end, the concept might not be that great either. The film’s ultimate villain and eventual culprit is a more privileged, powerful, pathological version of the social worker. He is monstrous, and of course for that reason we feel quite justified when he is brutally dispatched. After helping to solve this mystery the journalist is vindicated, because it turns out that the guy he was trying to expose at the beginning of the film, the which effort led to the journalist’s temporary downfall, is guilty after all. By this we learn that Capitalists are also monstrous rapists. Is that fair? Well, at least a little bit, and on more than one occasion. Mark Achbar’s and Jennifer Abbot’s vast 2003 documentary The Corporation , to cite just one assertion among many, agrees, and there’s sure a lot of supporting evidence. But even if this extreme thesis were true—it’s not, always—then it could only have hate-generating, desensitizing consequences. Hard films should sometimes be made, because of the way they help us talk about hard things. But in the end they often just harden us.

 

“Zootopia:” An Animated Tale for Kids and Adults

By Brianne Burgess

Disney’s animated film, Zootopia, is hailed by critics, and outselling Frozen at the Box Office.

A young female bunny, digitized to perfection, wants to be a police officer. Judy Hopps starts as a meter maid, exploring the complex and fast-paced city of Zootopia. The main theme is prejudice, and the moral is told with maturity to adults, and creatively to children. Projecting the subject into the animal world is risky, should children segment species according to their level of “goodness,” but all characters have both admirable qualities and idiosyncracies. Such is a victory for the writers.

ZOOTOPIA
RELUCTANT PARTNER — Fast-talking, con-artist fox Nick Wilde is not really interested in helping rookie officer Judy Hopps crack her first case. Directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore, and produced by Clark Spencer, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Zootopia” opens in theaters on March 4, 2016. ?2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Judy is a small bunny, confronting bears, elephants, and rhinos. Even her own parents discourage her from pursuing her dream job, but persistence pays off; she works hard against all the odds.

The story emphasizes the power of good deeds though seemingly small, a message the world needs right now. Everyone can make a difference, even if the results come much later.

720x405-zootopiaThe prejudice theme is sustained by protagonist, Nick Wilde, a clever fox that’s dragged into Judy’s investigation. Conflict centers around two types of animals: predatory and prey. They get along on the superficially, but bigotry boils to the the surface. Nick is a city slicker predator, known as an untrustworthy liar; bunnies from country farmers make unlikely co-workers.

As natural enemies, there is instant friction between the two, but the movie develops a much more complex relationship than just initial interactions.

Once they get to know each another, they become friends, and defend one another. There’s more to a person than meets the eye, and once you let your preconceptions go, you find a valuable ally.

stock-vector-vector-seamless-pattern-with-leaves-berries-branches-and-cute-forest-animals-fox-rabbit-frog-207516400Didactic clarity and a humorous script place this in the Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein level of superior synthesis of moral and amusement.

Spoiler Alert:

One of the most valuable lessons in the movie, comes from the climax of the story, after Judy has offended Nick by making a comment on how predators might be “reverting back to their savage ways”. This statement tears the city and Nick and Judy’s friendship apart. After time, realising her fox_and_bunny_sleeping_drawing_of_animal_art_postcard-r1dc9898976074f769757de17aed2760b_vgbaq_8byvr_324huge mistake, she swallows her pride and prejudice; and she sincerely apologizes to Nick. This is heartfelt, and she does not make excuses for herself. Judy’s apology is a great example of what to do after offending someone, even when it’s difficult to confront someone you’ve hurt.

Overall, a great family-friendly cinematic masterpiece, and a movie well worth seeing.

On a side note, here is a bit of trivia for you, the newscasters are different animals depending on the region the movie was released.