57

In the movie Zootopia, it was shown that they were using sloths for every position at the DMV (Department of Mammal Vehicles).

In the story why did they use sloths considering they are very slow animals?

  • 136
    Ever been to a DMV? Why does it happen in real life as well? ;) – Walt Sep 12 '17 at 8:34
  • 4
    I figured the OP wanted an in-universe explanation, but sadly I seem to be wrong. – Minix Sep 12 '17 at 12:20
  • 13
    Love open-ended questions. "Why were sloths chosen to depict DMV workers?" (the intended intent) vs "Why use sloths at the DMV?" (as written) - A: Because they are faster than the alternative! – PoloHoleSet Sep 12 '17 at 16:24
  • 5
    Its worth remembering the joke right at the end as well. If memory serves "Fastest sloth alive" – Journeyman Geek Sep 14 '17 at 6:33
  • 3
    and also named flash. – Joey Sep 14 '17 at 6:36
97
+50

One reason the scene works so well on repeated viewings is that it's essentially a sketch. The scene is just as funny on its own as it is within the context of the movie, and that's due to its brilliant concept.

Everyone who's ever been to the DMV knows how painful an experience it is. It takes forever, and to those forced to wait for hours, it seems as if the employees are being slow on purpose. Therefore, in a world populated by animals, the famously slow sloths would of course be the sole employees of the DMV.

enter image description here

Refer this for more info.

  • 10
    It is a funny movie, that was written to make a big point about discrimination and bigotry... that was based on countless blatant stereotypes. Mixed messages here! – curiousdannii Sep 12 '17 at 10:36
  • 59
    @curiousdannii: Those aren't mixed messages. There's a difference between joking that the DMV is a slow process (visualized by an animal commonly known to be slow), and treating people who work at the DMV as inferior people. The joke is about the efficiency of the DMV, not the innate rights of the people working at the DMV. Similarly, there's a scene in Hoodwinked where two sleeping turtles are startled, one shouts "RUN!" and they start "running" while moving really slowly. That's not a discriminatory joke, it simply puts two contrasting elements together for comical effect. – Flater Sep 12 '17 at 10:40
  • 39
    @curiousdannii: It would only be a mixed message if the movie somehow advocated mistreating the sloths. E.g. if the main characters start personally attacking a sloth who can't help being slow (as that's their nature), that is an actual mixed message. But that is not the case here. Getting frustated that the sloths are slow is not the same as advocating mistreatment of the sloths simply because they are slow. – Flater Sep 12 '17 at 10:45
  • 21
    @curiousdannii: "The message is that you can't judge people by stereotypes" If you mean "judge" as in "criticize", I agree. If you mean "judge" as "see difference between", then I don't agree. It would be more accurate to say that the message is about not treating people based solely on a stereotype. And this distinction is important. Consider the difference between someone testing Judy's skills as a police officer (which is an acceptable way to judge someone), and laughing at Judy for wanting to be a cop because "bunnies are such weak creatures" (which is a bad way to judge someone) – Flater Sep 12 '17 at 11:05
  • 34
    @curiousdannii what about the big plot twist at the end of the movie? That sloth isn't so stereotypical after all. – Christoph Sep 12 '17 at 13:01
47

It's a joke

The actual US DMV (Dept of Motor Vehicles) is renowned (at least in Film & TV) for slow service, long queues and poor efficiency & service.

Now this may not actually be the case but it's a common trope that a visit to the DMV will take a long time.

  • 3
    I can confirm, by personal experience, that DMVs were ATROCIOUSLY bad when I was a kid. They've been better, for some things, in more recent years, but even still getting a city sticker a few years back, there was a line around the block. Admittedly, mostly something I experienced in Chicago. – godskook Sep 12 '17 at 13:28
  • 8
    My personal experience (at least in NY) is that DMVs can be extremely efficient if you book an appointment in advance (under 15 minutes wait time). The one time I went there without an appointment, I had to wait over 3 hours. – March Ho Sep 12 '17 at 14:35
  • 2
    My experience with DMV offices is that they're awful in Texas, and (within the last ~5 years, which is the scope of my experience) models of well-oiled efficiency in Chicago. Perhaps the folks who come into government with the idea that it's doomed to incompetence have a self-fulfilling prophecy. – Charles Duffy Sep 12 '17 at 14:48
  • 17
    I think it's worth clarifying that the DMV is not a US institution. Each US state has its own DMV (or a similarly named department), and they're all independently run. – Apologize and reinstate Monica Sep 12 '17 at 17:16
  • 4
    @sgroves That's true, but I don't think it makes any actual difference for the purposes of this question. "The DMV" as a concept is a US institution in the sense of "a significant practice, relationship, or organization in a society or culture" (m-w.com). – David Richerby Sep 13 '17 at 12:55
34

For an in-universe answer, if I may speculate:

Perhaps in the for-profit sector, sloths are stereotyped as being too slow to get any work done, and so no one hires them. Meanwhile, the city, with its Animal Inclusion Initiative, is willing to hire sloths for desk work where time isn't of the essence. Thus, the sloths tend to find employment in bureaucracies like the DMV; there's no employment opportunities for them elsewhere. Conversely, no one else works at the DMV because they have better opportunities elsewhere (and they may not want to work with sloths, to boot).

After all, the message of the movie may be "Don't engage in stereotyping", but in order to convey that message a lot of the world does engage in that sort of negative behavior so that the characters can fight it.

  • Interesting take on it that hadn't occurred to me before. I don't think it's supposed to be this in-depth but it's interesting that you point out the difference between private-sector and public-sector recruitment. Private-sector organisations would recruit faster staff while public-sector departments probably don't care about getting the job done efficiently, they'll just take whatever staff they can get for as little as possible. If that means filling the building with a bunch of sloths working for next to nothing (because nobody else wants them anyway), then so be it. – Micheal Johnson Sep 13 '17 at 21:02
  • 1
    @Joey The help centre has more information about comments. – David Richerby Sep 14 '17 at 12:28

You must log in to answer this question.

protected by A J Sep 16 '17 at 4:35

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .