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July 13th 2019
By David Vance
I remember taking my then very young daughter to see the movie “The Lion King” when it came out in 1995. It was the first movie she ever saw and it was a lovely family moment, and so I have always had treasured memories of that movie. With a great soundtrack with fab Elton John original tracks “Circle of Life” and “Can you feel the love tonight?” and an engaging plot, it made for perfect family viewing.
Little did I realise, all these years later, that “The Lion King” is fascist. Yes, fascist. Or so this review of the 2019 reboot of “The Lion King” in the Washington Post (WAPO) asserts.
Before proceeding, just remember that the Washington Post has won 47 Pulitzers ove the decades and that is gained fame in the 1970s for reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein press’ investigation into what became known as the Watergate scandal. But that was then, and this is now, and the WaPo is now seriously “woke”.
Back to the “Lion King” and the circle of life that this new review represents.
You see when I went to see it, the story was actually pretty simple.
“It follows the adventures of the young lion Simba, the heir of his father, Mufasa. Simba’s wicked uncle, Scar, plots to usurp Mufasa’s throne by luring father and son into a stampede of wildebeests. But Simba escapes, and only Mufasa is killed. Simba returns as an adult to take back his homeland from Scar with the help of his friends Timon and Pumbaa”
Sounds simple and straightforward? WRONG.
The 2019 woke review points out all that is wrong with the movie and in fact, it isn’t JUST ‘fascist”, oh no. It is also troubling on a series of many other levels. Turns out there are hidden Nazi references in it; that it is racist; and that it is sexist/homophobic with a side portion of anti-Semitism for good measure.
Let’s consider a few of these new “insights”.
For starters, it is claimed the movie suggests that the weak must follow the strong. Yes, it does. The author is evidently unaware of how the animal kingdom (sic) operates. The “patriarchal” and “hierarchical” society of a Lion Pride is singled out for excoriation. But that is the least of our concerns. Guess what, Simba is (literally) a Nazi
With the lions standing in for the ruling class, and the “good” herbivores embodying society’s decent, law-abiding citizens, the hyenas transparently represent the black, brown and disabled bodies that are forcefully excluded from this hierarchical society. Noticeably marked by their ethnically coded “street” accents, the hyenas blatantly symbolize racist and anti-Semitic stereotypes of “verminous” groups that form a threat to society.
Yes, Simba and his kin are a bunch of raging jungle Nazis and the hyenas are the Black and Ethnic minorities.
In a further plunge into insanity, we also discover that Scar, the wicked uncle of the plot, is also gay.
Before you wobble your head in disbelief, consider also that Simba’s reclaim of the Lion homeland is, in fact, the “Fuhrer Principle” in action.
Now, it is easy to giggle at all of this lunacy, and assume that the author Dan Hassler-Forest is just having a laugh and doesn’t actually believe the drivel that he churns out – but that would be very wrong.
Mr Hassler-Forest seems sincere in his outrage about this movie which also seems in keeping with his dismissal of “Sleeping Beauty,” as a sexist fairy tale Admittedly he praises the fact that Disney now has as majority-black cast, which swaps out the original’s white voice actors Matthew Broderick and Moira Kelly for Donald Glover and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. But that is simply tokenism and does not assuage the awful “truth” identified by Hassler-Forest that…
“…the movie promotes authoritarian and anti-democratic values by reproducing a worldview in which power, strength and privilege are genetically determined, and where the weak and vulnerable exist only to serve, support and flatter their masters”
Yes, even Beyonce cannot save it!
Of course, the reality of the situation is that the movie remains largely the same delightful and charming story that a new generation of children will assuredly enjoy. But in 2019, woke critics such as Hassler-Forest thrive on seeing all kinds of imagined threats and are rewarded by the likes of WaPo for it. I would suggest that he takes the advice of Timon and Pumbaa and sings ““Hakuna Matata“ until he calms himself down into a state where he can once again re-engage with the world as it is, not as he imagines it!