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September 1996, Week 3


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Chuck Hopkins <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 14 Sep 1996 14:26:03 -0400
text/plain (122 lines)
> Two things about this argument.  First thing, the racism in the Lion King
> is not solely based on the race of the actor's voicing characters - in
> I think that the race of the actors often serves to undercut and "defend"
> Disney against this type of reading.  The racist representations are in
> 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;
Okay.. My .02  Don't REAL hyenas mooch off of the hard wark of others?
American Heritage Dictionary definition of Hyena "Any of several
carnivorous mammals of Asia and Afica who subsist off of carrion" Granted a
vague definition at best (wouldn't this definition include non-hyenas) but
hyenas, by definition, eat carrion, , which tend to include kills made by
other animals. In my opinion, it is the opinion of the viewer who reads
into the fact that minorities are "Hyena-like" ,not because disney or the
writers says that they are.
And the reason REAL hyenas cannot fend off Lions are that Lions are
naturally LARGER than hyenas. This kind of "Survival of the fittest" was
not something that the writer's of 'The Lion King' created. Hyenas often DO
live off of kills of lions, and tend to use their mass numbers to run
prides off of kills. What the writers did create was the interaction of a
lion with hyenas
 >the hyenas are typical minstrel-like buffoons,
Actually, the only reference to any culture that the animators had inferred
was that of nazi-germany, when they had the hyenas goose stepping. Also ,
could you please define "Minstrel-like" so we know what that actually
>Rafiki the baboon is clownish and does Jim Crow-esque dances,
Questions: If Rafiki is percived as clownish by the Lions, why is he their
spiritual leader? Why is he permitted to Bless the newborns? Why is he the
only one that has the power of premonition? And Could you define
Jim-Crow-esque, and how does tha compare to "Uncle Tom" - like.
> the lions are noble and stately
Granted, the lions ARE noble and stately , but the movie is called "The
Lion KING" not "The Lion Lower middle class proletarian"
>The racism gets articulated into axes of class  (the hyenas are clearly
lower class, on "welfare" in a way, etc.), gender
> (the leader of the hyenas is an ineffectual female while the leaders of
> lions are male but the females do all the work), sexuality (Scar is coded
> as the evil gay uncle, Timon & Pumba are the nice gay uncles,
>Simba's growing up process involves rejecting the lifestyle of the gay
uncles to
> embrace heterosexuality and dominant white patriarchy atop that insidious
> Cirlce of Life .
Interesting point. Although I disagree. I don't believe he "REJECTED" the
gay lifestyle, per se, as in the final scene, timon and Pumba are clearly
seen as included in "The Circle of Life". Some may argue that the White
patriarchy would NOT include a gay couple. Simba may have just
"experimented" with homosexuality, and found it wasn't for him.
> Secondly, I think it's pretty limited to say "if the primary audience
> doesn't get the racism, then a reading for racism is not important" - go
> through any issue of Cinema Journal or the like and tell me how many of
> arguments enclosed within are easily received by the primary audiences of
> the films discussed.  If academic film and television criticism relied on
> only presenting the messages received by primary audiences, we'd all be
> of jobs real quick.
I agree with this point whole-heartedly.
> While I agree that most kids don't walk out of Lion
> King saying "white patriarchal heterosexual society is great and anything
> else must be destroyed," most kids would tell you that the hyenas were
> and funny looking, that Scar was 'weird' (Simba says so himself), and
> Muphasa was who they want to be like when they grow up.  Obviously we
> to consider how the film is received, but we can't simply say that since
> kids don't get the racism overtly that we can't discuss the covert
> connotations that litter the film.
This is an interesting point, but , IMHO, whats more important is not how
the primary audience recieves the movie, but what were the intentions of
the writer of the fil. Do I think that the writers, (Irene Mecchi,Jonathan
Roberts, and Linda Woolverton) intend to write a tale about the superiority
of the White Patriarical system cleverly disguised as a Children's movie?
Obviously, I can't answer that, being I don't know the writers, but my
suspicions are that they did not.
> Sorry for ranting at length, but this film is really enfuriating -
> especially the songs by Elton John, which aren't racist but are just
> bad.
No argument there, but I REALLY hate "Colors of the Wind". In my opinion,
Disney is an abhorrant company whose business practices would include
litigation of ANYone who used their characters without them making some
money off of it., upto trying to run other upstart animation companies into
the ground to prevent any competiton when it comes to animated movies. What
I doubt , is that Disney has any other politcal agenda beside pure
Jason, what I really would like to know is what you feel about "The Lord of
the Rings" which has some similar themes.
(A member of a high council (Saruman) allows evil to be infiltrated into a
beautiful country, and everything goes to hell, until the return of the
rightful King)
C Hopkins
(whose tongue is somewhat in cheek)
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