The State Worker

Disney’s ‘Zootopia’ takes a humorous jab at state employees

The time Disney took a stab at slothful DMV employees in a movie

Disney takes a humorous jab at state workers. Video courtesy Walt Disney Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures
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Disney takes a humorous jab at state workers. Video courtesy Walt Disney Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures

The hottest film this year casts a small bunny rabbit as a tough-as-nails cop, a fox as a grifter-turned-good-guy – and sloths as counter staff at the DMV.

While watching Disney’s “Zootopia” last week with family and at least 200 adults and kids, the slow-mo-employees-at-the-DMV clip above received some of the biggest laughs and even a smattering of applause from the audience. And this was a theater in state-employee-centric Elk Grove. There’s little doubt that some of the folks who saw the movie work for state government or have friends and family who do.

9,527The number of California DMV employees in 2015

Perhaps more than any other department or agency, it is the public face of California state government. Nearly everyone over age 16 has to interact with DMV, and not just for drivers’ licensing and car registration. Nearly 33 million California residents last year carried a DMV-issued license or ID card and more than 34 million vehicles were registered with the department.

Despite the department’s heavy workload, perhaps no symbol of state bureaucracy draws more fire than the line at a DMV office. Although the department for years has encouraged online appointments to speed up the system, it can’t shake an image as a soulless organization that caters to process and not people.

“Clearly, this is a fictional depiction of a DMV office,” Jaime Garza, DMV spokesman, said of the movie.

Does “Zootopia,” which has earned $800 million worldwide so far, further a negative stereotype of state workers? Or is its sloth depiction just good-natured fun?

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