Disney’s Zootopia Propaganda in China


If you have watched the hit film Zootopia, you would be confused as to how any audience could be threatened by a main character that is a cute talking rabbit who fights crime and defies her own stereotype in the end to become a hero. It is hard to imagine this film would have much substance. However, the China’s People’s Liberation Army or the PLA Daily, has made accusations against the film claiming that it serves only as another form of Western propaganda. The PLA Daily is worried that a specific audience is being targeted, the children. The evils of Western propaganda preached by the movie, are that it “ ‘promotes U.S. values and global strategy’ ” and “ ‘in a world of cruel reality, it is always a wolf that eats a sheep instead of the other way around’ “. The PLA warns that these false ideals are examples of Western propaganda that makes negatively influences young adults using innocent characters that symbolize American messages. The danger of many people seeing Zootopia is that they will convince more people to watch the movie, then its propaganda will be spread from person to person in a country where social media is blocked for the very purpose of inhibiting people from forming activist groups. It is interesting to analyze how propaganda spreads in a country using concepts from class.

 In a country where Facebook, Twitter and many other informative sites (such as the NY Times) are blocked in order to control the spread of information it comes to no surprise that China would be wary of any American production that gained to much attention from the public. Without Facebook and Twitter it is difficult to imagine how social groups may interact or even as we learned in class, how to tell who is friends with who. Government approved and created sites of China are modeled after Facebook and Twitter, and with the highest amount of internet users there are over 500 million internet users that use more than one social networking site. Through websites like Youku, Renren, and Sina Weibo word of mouth about the movie can spread. Movies themselves are information networks of their own. Seeing a movie is like knowing a person, you talk about them to your friends and soon they want to get to know who this person is. Whether or not statuses posted have been along the lines of “Stocked to see Zootopia!” it is possible friends would go see this movie together and convince others to see it as well by talking about it. Additionally, the information network that would promote Zootopia is not only seen online but also on the television and radio because these are popular mediums of advertising in China. 

Zootopia is the most successful animated film to be shown in China. China’s population is over 1.3 billion, this means that the proposed propaganda from the film has been ingested by hundreds of millions of people young and old. Zootopia has essentially crossed through China’s protective barriers preventing the spread of information. Whether Zootopia is promoting Western propaganda or not, it is interesting to see how threatened a country can be when hundreds of millions of its citizens are viewing a message they could not normally see because Twitter and Facebook is banned. 

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