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September 1996, Week 3


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Rich Karten <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 16 Sep 1996 16:43:21 -0500
text/plain (54 lines)
>From:    Jason Mittell <[log in to unmask]> Wrote:
> The racist representations are in the
>plot (good society is thrown into chaos by a leader who decides to
>integrate with another society which consists of a lazy clownish species
>(hyenas) who mooch of the hard work of others and cannot fend for
>themselves; integration is shown to be the problem which must be undone for
>narrative closure),
The Primary plot of Lion King dates from the Oral History/Storytelling era
before Beowulf.  King is good, and has power but also has a social
consience and tries to make life better for all.  Brother, cousin, other
relation, desires that power, uses the disenfranchised populous to
overthrow the power, and runs the Kingdom(village) into ground.  Villagers
revolt, or hero emerges and replaces bad king with good king and everybody
You will find these themes throughout both African Oral histories and the
Indo-European histories.
Compare the plot of Lion King with Macbeth, or Robin Hood and the
similarities in theme and plot are clear.
It is not racism, it is an issue of class struggle.  Class, while sometimes
related to race, is more related to relative wealth, or power.  You may
always change your class by acquiring enough wealth or power, as did Scar
and the Hyenas, by usurping Mufasah.
The human race at large, no matter what race, is driven by basic needs and
instincts, food, shelter,  and the need to procreate, hence the "Circle of
Life".  These needs, unfufilled, cause humans to seek to satisfy them by
whatever means necessary.
This is not racism, its human nature.  It happens within races and between
races.  It's simply a case of the haves and have not's.  I think the story
treats all its subjects well and shows children that there are consequences
to their actions, good and bad.  It is far too easy to wield the racism
banner and ignore other historical information.
By looking at plot and theme only from today's perspective we neglect hard
learned lessons  from ages past.  Don't blind yourself to those lessons.
[log in to unmask]
Rich Karten    Promotions Producer/Director, website developer
Penn State Public Broadcasting (
118 Wagner Building
University Park, PA 16802-3899  Ph. 814-865-3333 Fax: 814-865-3145
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