First off, Todd and Copper (fox and hound, respectively) are a weak metaphor for difference. One is a domesticated dog and the other is a formerly wild animal, but they’re both young canids, raised on neighboring farms, fond of wrestling — presenting their friendship as some sort of impossible dream seems like a stretch.
They are different colors and everything!
But whatever. People who look different than you are A-OK and you can still be friends. Good message.
Except that’s not the message at all. Todd and Copper are friends initially, yes, but as soon as they recognize their differences they become mortal enemies. Granted there’s a reconciliation when Copper, after leading his master on a depraved fox hunt, has a change of heart and prevents the hunter/owner from shooting Todd in the face. But then the two immediately go back to their separate sides of the forest and never speak again, because even in a world where worms are smart and badgers can talk you should keep to your own kind.
The two messages found in ‘Fox and the Hound’ are that differences don’t matter, which is the one that is far more powerful to children, and then the message that no matter how strong a friendship may be, differences between two people will always become the two. Although these two messages are not straight flat out stated, they are pretty clearly portrayed. ‘Fox and the Hound’ was released in 1981 during a time when hard racism was still relevant. Although the negative message found through out the movie is not popping out to children or in many cases probably not catching the eye of any audience members in the target demographic, it doesn’t have much of an effect on the viewers. When going back and watching the movie a second time while analyzing it and looking for a negative message it became much more clear what was being shown on the screen. With this being said, most the initial messages greatly outweighs the influence on the target demographic than the message received when taking a second look. Now on the other hand, the positive message is pretty clear even though both Todd and Cooper learn to hate each other due to some implications in the movie. Having friends and relationships that include two people with large and viable differences is a message that Disney was trying to give off when writing this movie, though looking back at it with a more analytical mindset, it wasn’t done so in the most effective way.
Overall, ‘Fox and the Hound’ gave off a positive message to children in that differences are okay and even though some people may not approve of it, the bond and relationship with someone that differs from yourself is okay. The negative message doesn’t play that big of a role in this movie until one is looking more closely at the picture and digging for a deeper meaning behind the initial message.