Lovable bunny cop Judy Hopps is a threat to China’s national security, according to an opinion piece in an army-affiliated newspaper.
Writing in the PLA Daily, Wang Chuanbao, a journalism professor at the PLA Nanjing Institute of Politics, blasted Judy and the entire cast of animals from the Disney Pixar movie Zootopia, accusing them of being propaganda tools for the United States.
In the lengthy piece published Wednesday, Wang argued that main character’s rise from humble country bumpkin bunny to super police rabbit in the mammal metropolitan of Zootopia was a thinly veiled attempt to present a sugar-coated version of the American dream.
“In this real world, wolves eat sheep, sheep don’t eat wolves,” wrote Wang, referring to the hyperactive Judy, who is depicted in the movie as having the power to arrest lions and tigers.
Wang described Hollywood as a propaganda machine for America that “spares no effort to disseminate American values and America’s global strategy.”
Zootopia’s approach is subtle. “It does not contain apparent hostile propaganda or purposeful smearing,” Wang wrote. “So that it’s more prone to take moviegoers off guard.”
The reach of U.S. propaganda is expanding, wrote Wang, as it spreads its influence through animation and computer games such as Call of Duty, and he warned Chinese people about what lurks beneath the surface of fun and entertainment. Such elements are just smoke screens for a new kind of “secret” propaganda, Wang wrote, describing media as the “invisible hand” of U.S. indoctrination.
Wang told Sixth Tone that he hoped the Chinese movie industry would produce its own version of Zootopia, or similar cultural products, in the future. “Think about how our cultural territory could be chewed away if we let the likes of Zootopia make inroads,” said Wang.
The debate has not stopped Zootopia’s formidable box office charge in China. The movie has sprinted past the records of prior hit animation movies including Kung Fu Panda 3 and Chinese-produced Monkey King: Hero, with total box-office takings in excess of 1.4 billion yuan ($219 million) as of Wednesday, according to Cbooo.cn, a website that tracks box-office figures.
Wang also has some harsh words about Japanese manga. Anime from Japan is incredibly popular in China, but according to Wang, it’s far from harmless. He has a stark message for Chinese fans: “Even though anime seems to have no harmful intentions, it actually stunts and tarnishes China’s image, with the goal of causing the collapse of China’s youth,” he wrote.
Wang’s article was shared widely on social media, although few shared the army professor’s views.
Writing on Chinese microblogging platform Weibo, user Yakuyuanchuang wrote: “You even criticize this?!” Is the army also scared of animals?”
（Header image: A man passes a movie poster of ‘Zootopia’ at a theater in the city of Yichang, Hubei province, Feb. 24, 2016. Liu Junfeng/VCG)