While checking out the DVDFile review of Disney’s “The Lion King” disc, I come across this:
Yes, The Lion King truly made history and is classic Disney, but dare I say that it is also fairly typical in retrospect? All of the hallmarks are here: the big musical numbers, cutesy supporting characters and vaguely racist overtones – all the evil characters are drawn “black” (that Scar “Third Reich” number is especially queasy) while Simba and Pumba look mighty caucasian. But ignore any of the unsettling, fascist implications of its narrative (okay, I’m being a little facetious) and just sit back and enjoy the sheer majesty of its visuals. The Lion King is simply a gorgeous-looking movie – just about every cel could be hung on the wall, ready for framing. Beautiful.
So, um, the, uh, “black” animals are the fascists according to this guy.
One: WHAT THE ‘F’ IS HE TALKING ABOUT? I’ve had to think about this one for a bit to make sure, in my naive middle-class whiteness, I wasn’t missing something. Okay. The lead hyena is voiced by Whoopie Goldberg (black), but Scar (the evil lion) is voiced by Jeremy Irons (not only white but also English), and the other talking hyena (who’s name is apparently ‘Banzai’) is voiced by Cheech Marin (who is Hispanic). As for being “drawn” black, I’m not sure what he’s getting at. The hyenas look like, well, hyenas. Scar has a darker mane than the other lions, but isn’t that a standard “costume” for villains? Or are the cowboys in black vests, the Bond villains in dark suits, the samurai warriors in dark armor, and Darth Vader all racist images? And Mufasa, the king of the “Caucasian” animals? Voiced by James Earl Jones. Last time I looked he was black. Actually, he’s also the voice of the aforementioned Darth Vader, so he MUST be in favor of these Hollywood racial stereotypes. (<--Sarcasm, folks.) This observation on the reviewer's part is just plain lame. If you look hard enough and wish hard enough, I guess you can see anything you want to.
Two: Are we supposed to feel sympathetic to fascists because the "Be Prepared" number resembles the propoganda films of Nazi Germany? How DARE Disney portray Nazis as evil? Aren't genocidal mass murderers who brough civilization to edge of ruin under the direction of a homocidal, racist madman people, too? (<--Again, sarcasm.) I've always felt that that sequence was one of the strongest in the film. Here's a snippet from the song:
So prepare for the coup of the century
Be prepared for the murkiest scam
Meticulous planning, Tenacity spanning
Decades of denial, Is simply why I’ll
Be king undisputed, Respected, saluted
And seen for the wonder I am
Yes, my teeth and ambitions are bared
Yes, our teeth and ambitions are bared
They’re talking about killing the king, folks. And not for the good of the many. This outcast lion has entered an alliance with the enemies of the free animals and he’s going to subjugate the world of light. But don’t portray them in such a negative way? That sequence make me queasy, too. But it’s because IT HAS HAPPENED and it’s scary, not because I feel badly for those who might be offended by implications that Nazis were bad people.
MO highly recommends the movie, and the DVD is top of the line. Just skip the DVDFile review.
UPDATE: While spell-checking this post, Blogger suggested that I replace “murkiest” with “Marxist” in the lyrics above. Heh.