James Hock - MRH Faculty
The problem with “Trolls: World Tour”: Queen Poppy’s Discrimination and Toxic Ideals
Updated: Sep 28, 2021
Alyssa V | February 8, 2021
The trolls universe is undeniably popular, rating 71% on rotten tomatoes and making 44.8 million dollars in the box office amid a devastating pandemic. This children’s movie focuses on queen poppy and her pop troll kingdom, fighting to keep independence and unity while another tribe attempts to dominate the world.
Our main antagonists are introduced first being the rock trolls led by Queen Barb. We get to meet them mid-attack on the techno trolls(one of the many tribes: pop, rock, funk, country, classical, techno) taking their string which contains their music.
It is an important note that music in their world is their entire identity; their culture and nationality are dependent on the genre of music they play and listen to. Knowing this, we can infer that the movie will attempt to teach kids cultural acceptance, the importance of diversity, identity, and unity.
The rock trolls are attempting to take over the world and erase all other troll identities. Just a little less than four minutes into the movie, we hear Queen Barb tell the Techno King, “...yeah, that’s not music.” A thing she continues to tell every other tribe. Now the message director Walt Dohrn wanted to produce was about the dangers of being overtly nationalistic and self-centered to the point of hate, discrimination, and cultural identity destruction. This was honestly a good try, but the characters he chose to develop and make the protagonist could have been better.
Queen Poppy, Branch, Cooper, King Peppy, and biggie are the main protagonists of pop trolls. She is leading our mission to save the troll world from evil rockers.
The implications of one nation destroying all others for revenge or nationalism being evil is terrific to teach. Showing tolerance and empathy is essential. However, if you look into the pop trolls, we see similar attributes between them and our antagonist group: the rock trolls.
Some examples of queen poppy showing her intolerance towards differences are
When a messenger bat appears from the rock trolls, the pop trolls call it creepy and weird.
When her tribe is threatened, she does not listen to those around her because they are too pessimistic. (toxic positivity)
The pop trolls sob and scream at the thought of other trolls liking different music.
Part of Queen Poppy’s revolting behavior is her impulsive toxic positivity that she preaches to her subjects. The psychology group defines toxic positivity as “the excessive and ineffective overgeneralization of a happy, optimistic state across all situations.” Toxic positivity causes children and even adults to hide and avoid their feelings and feel guilty for having negative emotions. According to Healthline’s Dr.Zuckerman, “Failure to effectively process emotions promptly can lead to a myriad of psychological difficulties, including disrupted sleep, increase substance abuse, risk of an acute stress response, prolonged grief, or even PTSD.” Queen poppy says on many different occasions that differences shouldn’t matter, but her actions show otherwise. Poppy disregards Branch’s fear a lot, saying he ‘needs to listen, and put himself in someone else’s shoes’ while attempting to do the best for his tribe and keep himself and his friends safe. Poppy makes disgusted faces at Branch when he says, “life is sad sometimes,” and so he likes country music, and despite just minutes before stating that difference doesn’t matter, she is repulsed by the difference shown by the country trolls. Poor Biggie is often a target of Poppy’s need to control her subject’s emotions. Queen poppy tells biggie when he is terrified that he shouldn’t be because he should just trust her. Emotional manipulation aside, Queen Poppy trolls biggie everything will be fine, she lies to him, and she disregards his feelings so much he leaves her, which is very odd for someone of the pop troll attitude to do. Queen Poppy is not a positive role model like she is presented to be.
What would have made the lesson of not being discriminatory better and more clear? Simple, the funk trolls. The only troll who is genuinely different from the other pop trolls is Cooper. A four-legged groovy, long-neck, hat-wearing troll that poops cupcakes. Throughout the movie, he struggles to find other trolls that look and behave as he does, something he craves due to the lack of anything different in the tribe he grew up in. He and the Funk trolls are the most open-minded of the trolls we see, they didn't need a huge journey to find that everyone is worthy of their own culture, but they could have done more to aid in Dictator Poppy’s journey. Their plot was the most interesting thing in the entire movie, preparing to save their string, educating others on history and mutual respect, and accepting others as a family without the compulsive need to change them to fit their standards.
In whole, the funk trolls are the unsung heroes of “Trolls: World Tour.” Director Walt Dohrn attempted to create a meaningful message with engaging, colorful characters, and he did that. The theme of not committing cultural genocide and accepting others without erasing their identities was straightforward and simple to comprehend. However, his main protagonist Queen Poppy of the pop trolls did not help him. She was selfish, toxic, and generally not a good person. The only reasonable way to fix this is to remake the movie from the funk trolls’ perspective. Incredible how likable characters that accept each other and respect others can be.
Watch “Trolls: World Tour” on Hulu
Gleiberman, Owen. “'Trolls World Tour': Film Review.” Variety, Variety, 7 Apr. 2020, variety.com/2020/film/reviews/trolls-world-tour-review-anna-kendrick-justin-timberlake-1234570986/.
Scully, Simone M. “‘Toxic Positivity’ Is Real — and It’s a Big Problem During the Pandemic.’” Healthline, 22 July 2020, www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/toxic-positivity-during-the-pandemic#So,-how-do-you-deal-with-toxic-positivity?
“Toxic Positivity: The Dark Side of Positive Vibes.” The Psychology Group Fort Lauderdale, 29 Jan. 2021, thepsychologygroup.com/toxic-positivity/.
“Trolls.” Mind, www.mind.org.uk/information-support/your-stories/trolls/.