Zootopia 2 was recently announced, which gave me an excuse to go back and rewatch the first film. I never realized how insanely corrupt officer Judy Hopps is in the movie. She’s actively worse than characters in movies specifically about corrupt cops.
We first get a look at Judy’s, let’s call it moral flexibility, when she blackmails Nick with his recording about tax evasion. It’s not really that big a deal considering he is blatantly breaking the law and we don’t know if Zootopia lies in a two-party state when it comes to the legality of recordings, but it does kind of immediately paint Judy as someone willing to resort to underhanded means to further her own career.
The real standout, though, is when she and Nick are hauled in front of the mafia boss Mr. Big. At first, Judy is willing to stand up to him and threaten him with the law, which almost ends with her and Nick executed. The only thing that keeps them alive is the appearance of Mr. Big’s daughter, who recognizes Judy as the officer who saved her life the day before. Mr. Big relents and agrees to share information with Judy and Nick.
Now, look, cops forming alliances with criminals goes back to the founding of Scotland Yard if not further, and one could argue Judy is postponing justice against the mob boss in pursuit of a higher goal.
However, Judy immediately has Mr. Big put out a hit on Duke Weaselton, a petty criminal that she thinks has information about the crime. Mr. Big’s goons grab him and threaten him with death until he talks. At no point in this scene does Judy do anything but look on approvingly. In fact, Mr. Big’s daughter announces her intent to name her daughter after Judy in the same shot, to Judy’s joyful surprise.
This cop was writing parking meter tickets that morning. Now, she is tag teamed with a criminal underworld figure she knows for an absolute fact has murdered people because she almost was one of the victims. The second he can offer her what she wants, she has no qualms about using his sense of obligation and bloodthirsty nature to threaten and possibly kill a pickpocket and DVD bootlegger. Everything she does indicates that she has every intention of continuing her relationship with Mr. Big’s family in the future even though he is, again, a freakin’ murderer.
Honestly, though, the most disturbing thing about Judy isn’t even her eagerness to serve as a pet cop for a mobster. No, it’s that the literal second she is handed acclaim and a spotlight in front of the press, she throws Nick under the bus with a litany of bigoted anti-predator dog whistles. Like, she does it instantly, effortlessly, and without hesitation even after spending a great amount of time with him learning about how he has lived with prejudice all of his life because of his species.
Yes, she learns her lesson and Nick forgives her, but it’s still kind of amazing how easy it was for her to become a good old boy once it was offered. If her friendship with Nick hadn’t been deep enough for his condemnation to hurt, or her ambition just a smidge greater than her regard for that relationship, he would have gone back to street hustling while she moved onto a long career as a hero cop who upholds the status quo, including ethnic oppression and violent crime institutions.
So yeah, ACAB also stands for All Cops are Bunnies.