Zootopia is easily the best animated comedy about racial discrimination that I've ever furtively masturbated to in the back of a movie theater. The Utopian city of Zootopia (Ohhh, I get it) is a high-tech metropolis built by predator and prey animals who have put aside their differences to live in harmony. It's also doomed to a collapse that will make the world of The Walking Dead look like heaven.
It all comes down to a couple of jokes. First, it's mentioned that Judy Hopps, the rabbit heroine, has 275 brothers and sisters. It's supposed to be a quick gag about how fast rabbits reproduce, and if you're like me, you just assumed that Judy's parents are unstoppable f**k machines.
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But if you pause the charming Disney movie to do math, you reach horrifying conclusions. Judy's parents represent everyday bunnies who live mundane lives, so it's safe to assume that having 275 children is considered average. If all 275 of Judy's siblings have an average of 275 kids of their own, Judy's going to have 75,625 nieces and nephews. The third generation of Hopps would be 20,796,875 strong -- a Sri Lanka's worth of offspring. The fourth generation would see 5,719,140,625 bunnies born, while the fifth would see 1,572,763,671,875. There would be over one and a half trillion Hopps. To put that in perspective, that's 212.5 times the current human population, and there would be about 14.6 times more members of the Hopps family than there have been estimated people in all of human history.
I think we can all agree that Judy is adorable, and there's a significant subsection of the internet that finds her much more than that. But she'd be a lot less fuzzy-wuzzy if there were a trillion and a half of her blotting out the very surface of the Earth as they strip it bare in their all-consuming quest for carrots. And that's just one family.
When Judy leaves her hometown of Bunnyburrow, we see the town's population: 81,435,800. And we see it tick up at about three per second, because ha ha, rabbits f**k a lot. But a birthrate of three per second means Bunnyburrow's population will more than double in just one year -- that's 94,608,000 new rabbits. For comparison, there were just shy of four million births in the United States in 2014. Bunnyburrow is f*****g the equivalent of three Canadas into existence every single year, and that growth would be exponential.
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In the real world, prey animals reproduce rapidly because they're constantly being eaten by predators. But Zootopia's whole premise is that such savagery is a thing of the past -- prey animals face no more danger than the average American. Some will die prematurely of disease and accidents, but it will be a statistically insignificant number in the grand scheme of things. Furthermore, Zootopia's animals have human lifespans. Judy's in her early 20s, while her parents are middle-aged. We see lemmings running a bank and a shrew running a criminal empire, neither of which could be accomplished with their natural two-year lifespans. All animals in Zootopia, regardless of their species, have a life expectancy no different than yours. Well, in 2013, the United States had about 2.6 million deaths, giving the country a sustainable ratio of 1.5 births per death. In Zootopia, human death rates combined with animal birth rates produce a ratio that's laughably unsustainable.
It gets worse. Judy's hometown of Bunnyburrow, despite being 81 million strong, is considered a backwater Podunk. Zootopia's co-director called it the Yonkers to Zootopia's New York City. Well, NYC has 42.6 times the population of Yonkers, so Zootopia's population is implicitly just shy of 3.5 billion -- 3,469,165,080, to be exact. Are they all reproducing at their respective species' natural rates? It seems like they're instinctively driven to, if Judy's parents are any indication.
Zootopia has lots of predators, who reproduce conservatively, but we also see scores of prey, who mate at a pretty healthy clip -- lemmings, mice, shrew, deer. Even if these are career deer and mice who keep their reproduction rate down relative to the boonies, a single litter of, say, lemmings, produces an average of seven babies. With no predators to eat some of them, it won't take long for Zootopia's population to careen out of control, even if most animals show relative restraint. Especially since, while the animals have developed human lifespans, they've kept their original pregnancy cycles. Judy's mom simply couldn't have pumped out 275 kids if each one took nine months, and we see Fru Fru, a shrew, go from her wedding night to heavily pregnant in a matter of days.
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Animals also still have their original nutritional requirements. We see itty-bitty plates of food at Fru Fru's wedding, while Judy and Nick meet in an ice cream parlor serving giant portions to elephants. At first, that makes Zootopia appear sustainable -- the animals with humble dietary requirements vastly outnumber the heavy eaters. But Australia once had a rabbit population of 10 billion, and this was the result:
Large swaths of countryside were stripped bare. So many plants were eaten that topsoil started eroding, which can take hundreds of years for an environment to recover from. Well, the Hopps family alone is on pace to blow past 10 billion, and Australia's rabbits only needed food. Zootopia's animals need homes, power, plumbing, clothes, cars, and all the other features of a modern life. And they aren't just manufacturing a handful of different Jaguar, Lamborghini and Ram models -- there are cars for rabbits, cars for giraffes, cars for mice, cars for rhinos, cars that fit every body type. Imagine having to produce a dozen different lines of every product that modern humans use so that every size, build, appendage, and sense in the animal kingdom could be accommodated. Their IKEAs and clothing stores would be chaotic, to say the least.
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There's no way that's fuel-efficient.
Climate change and resource management are a concern in today's world of 7.4 billion humans, many of whom don't live the extravagant modern lifestyle that Zootopia's animals do, and all of whom can drive the same kind of cars and wear the same kind of clothes. The industrial and commercial demands for Zootopia's 3.5 billion, plus however many Bunnyburrow-style "small towns" surround it, is almost unfathomable.
Let's take smartphones, since they're ubiquitous in Zootopia. There are already fears that we're running out of some of the metals needed to make them, and excess mining to meet demand is destroying forests and polluting drinking water. Well, as of 2014, there were an estimated 2.6 billion smartphone users in the world. And as of 2015, 68 percent of Americans owned a smartphone. 68 percent of Zootopia's population is 2.38 billion. This one city's demand for smartphones is almost equal to the smartphone demand of our entire world. And this is before their inevitable population boom. So are there a bunch of ugly copper and cobalt mines just off-screen, or is Zootopia strip-mining foreign lands to satisfy its lust for novelty pop music apps?
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Zootopia also apparently lacks factories, which implies that it's a domineering city-state whose incredible resource consumption is fueled by factories elsewhere in the world that are no doubt much less whimsical to live in. And what are Zootopia's energy requirements? While their base climate is moderate, Zootopia is an intricate megacity with 12 distinct climate-controlled subsections. The Rainforest District is connected to Tundratown, which leads right into Sahara goddamn Square. What does it take to give power to 3.5 billion people and maintain an artificial tundra in-between an artificial rainforest and an artificial desert? Well, America consumes 4.686 billion megawatt hours per year, which works out to about 14.7 per person. That rate means Zootopia is consuming 51,690,559,692 megawatt hours, or roughly half of what our entire planet consumes. And that's before we factor in Zootopia's elaborate climate engineering. This city is sucking the planet dry.
A staggering population boom combined with out-of-control resource consumption produces a clear end result. If the Hopps family and everyone else in Zootopia keeps breeding like their biology drives them to, they'll strip the land of natural resources in mere decades. Hundreds of billions will be doomed to ugly deaths, while the survivors scrape out low-tech lives in the ruins of an arrogant metropolis.
How can Zootopia avoid its fate? Well, it could institute strict population control. But when China instituted its one-child policy, there were countless cases of infanticide, forced abortions, and forced sterilizations, and Chinese couples didn't have to be stopped from pumping out 275 kids each. Zootopia would have to convert from fun-loving PG democracy to brutal R-rated dictatorship virtually overnight, and this is a city that saw serious tensions over abuses of mayoral power and a few cases of racial discrimination. And how can a complicated megacity keep itself running with a shrinking, unhappy, and sexually frustrated population? Zootopia has to ease the incredible burden it puts on the planet, so it simply can't keep functioning as it currently is.
And a despised violent dictatorship is the best possibility. Human history is littered with civil wars fought over natural resources, and to the predators of Zootopia, prey animals are literally a resource. When an overpopulated Zootopia starts failing, how long will it take before the predators consider the possibility of eating some prey and enslaving the rest? And how long will it take the prey animals to start fighting back with their superior numbers? Maybe animal civilization would survive the conflict in some form, but Zootopia wouldn't.
Zootopia is a movie about the brief halcyon days of an imperious city as it remains willfully blind to its inevitable doom. Judy might soon be ordered to arrest illegally pregnant animals while her family helps bring about Zootopia's downfall by literally f*****g civilization to death. Which means all the creepy fans who want Judy and Nick to hook up are onto something -- childless interspecies romances might be the only way to save Zootopia.
Soon to be a propaganda poster seen across the entire city.
Zoroastrianism used to be one of the biggest religions in the world, but their idea of heaven had a slight twist on it: To get there you'd have to cross a bridge, sometimes rickety, sometimes wide and sturdy. If you fell off, you'd go to the House of Lies for eternity. Fun! Not terrifying at all! This month, Jack, Dan, and Michael, along with comedians Casey Jane Ellison and Ramin Nazer discuss their favorite afterlife scenarios from movies, sci-fi, and lesser-known religions. Get your tickets here, and we'll see you on the other side of the bridge!
See how Pixar movies ingrain us with cynicism and despair when you read 8 Dark Life Lessons Kids Learn From Pixar Films, and relive the moment you found out that your puppy would go to doggy hell in 9 Traumatizing Moments from Classic Kids Movies.
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