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Trolls 2: World Tour is a kid’s movie created by DreamWorks, one of the biggest animation studios of this day. The storyline follows Poppy, queen of the Pop trolls, and her friends when they discover that there are six other Troll tribes scattered across the world, and each are devoted to a different kind of music: Funk, Country, Techno, Classical, and Rock. Not only are the Pop trolls surprised about not being the only tribe in existence but this new-found diversity becomes endangered when Queen Barb, from the Rock tribe, decides to “unite” all the tribes under Rock; which means destroying all of their music styles in the process.  This film has been evaluated by critics as a film about poorly done music criticism. However, these comments seem narrow minded. Certainly, the movie does contain themes of musical criticism, but the film broaches other more important and relevant subjects that deserve to be addressed as the main focal point. Trolls 2 is not the average kid’s animated musical, but an important lesson for adults on how to handle social issues such as diversity, the importance of inclusion, and equity.

First, let’s discuss a Trolls 2 review written by Jon Caramanica, a critic for The New York Times. He states that “This is the film’s central battle: poptimists vs. rockists. (Or, in non-critic terms, the idea that pop music has real cultural value vs. the belief that rock determines the framework through which popular music should be analyzed.)”. As mentioned before, there is an element of musical criticism in the movie, especially when the characters throw occasional jabs at each other’s genre of music, the presence of the different types of music in itself, and so forth.  Regardless, during the film it is made clear that they are not just talking about music. Music represents the culture of these different tribes. This comparison is even directly asserted towards the end of the film when Queen Essence says that music comes from our culture. Although musical elements are present; they symbolize bigger things like distinct groups of cultures, religion, race, and more. This brings into question why Caramanica would degrade the central battle of the plot as a simple pop vs. rock critique, when it’s so much more than that. Justin Timberlake, the voice of one of the lead characters, explains that the movie is about diversity, inclusion, and how we should embrace everyone’s differences. He then comments on how he thinks it is “a timely theme right now” or, in other words, a subject relevant to today’s society. The film’s creators also share the same perspective as Timberlake. Charles Holmes, a writer for the Rolling Stones, interviewed the creators of Trolls 2 and asked them; “Trolls: World Tour thematically seems to be about the dangers of cultural appropriation and colonialism. What inspired such a heavy topic…?”. The creators replied that it wasn’t their initial plan, but with everything happening in the world and listening to the news, they couldn’t help letting those topics filter in during the writing process.

         In Trolls 2, oppression is seen within Queen Barb’s imperialist plans, and they show stereotyping when Poppy expects the other trolls to be the same as them and have similar music. These practices can lead you to erroneously believe that someone will act, behave, or have certain ideals based on these unjust social cliches.Equity plays a vital role in the film’s main moral lesson. It can be seen through Queen Essence, along with King Quincy, who are a pivotal part in Poppy’s character development and in explaining the central message of the movie. There are so many mature social themes within the plot, but the most prevalent are those of the importance of equity and inclusion. Firstly, it must be emphasized that Trolls 2 stands out, because it does not sugarcoat or simplify the message like other children’s films. Usually, kid’s movies that talk about racial, cultural, or religious diversity themes tend to simplify the message as “we are all equal” or “we are all the same”, which they do without malicious intent, but that’s not the reality of the situation. Trolls 2 goes further by explaining and promoting equity, not equality. “Although both promote fairness, equality achieves this through treating everyone the same regardless of need, while equity achieves this through treating people differently depending on need”. When we acknowledge our differences, we can give the attention and help to those who need it to achieve a fair environment and outcome for all. This social dilemma is demonstrated when Poppy says that everything would be solved if all trolls came to understand that we are all the same and that differences do not matter. However, King Quincy corrects her and says “but we are not all the same… Denying our differences is denying the truth of who we are”. 

Many kid’s movies have a good moral lesson, so what is the big deal about this one? Throughout films like this, kids can learn about our differences as people in a diverse world of origins, characteristics, and beliefs and the importance of respecting, and not judging, others for not being the same as you. In the beginning, Poppy thinks that exposing the other tribes to Pop, and in some way accidentally imposing it on them, is the best way to make everyone come together. However, she begins to appreciate all the unique cultures and sounds and realizes that all trolls should embrace their differences. Poppy comments at the end of the film that “We were divided, our ancestors thought we were just too different to get along… they were wrong. You have to be able to listen to other voices, even when they don’t agree with you. They make us stronger, more creative”. She considers that trolls can have opposing views and opinions and what makes a queen a good leader is listening and respecting them. Children are in a critical learning period in their lives; once they start growing, they are influenced by their environment, the ideologies, and beliefs of the people around them. The movie portrays all these various topics in a transparent point of view, so children, and even adults, can comprehend the importance of acknowledging our differences and accepting them in order to help each other meet our needs by coming to a consensus. We should listen to these magnificent trolls and understand that equity and inclusion are the key to a harmonious society.

Daniella Angueira is currently completing a bachelor's in English and a minor in Writing and Communications. She loves baking, savory foods and is always looking to try something new. One would usually find her studying, eating, or planning her next life goals.
Literature mayor. Makeup artist. Aspiring professor/writer. Third year of college.
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