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Analyzing The Lion King

Employ the three critical approaches to think harder and better.

Matt Christensen

on 2 September 2011

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Transcript of Analyzing The Lion King

Analyzing The Lion King
(1) The Marxist Critical Theory/Approach/Lens
How does money function in this exhibit?
How does power function in this exhibit?
What characters try to climb the social ladder? Is climbing possible?
Is there a distinct division of socioeconomic classes?
What obstacles are in a character's way?
With whom does the author hope we sympathize?
How are systems (family, economy, culture) good or bad for a character?
(3) The Feminist Critical Theory/Approach/Lens
How does gender function in this exhibit?

Are there distinct, rigid gender roles established? Created by whom?
Are the males expected/forced to be "manly"?
Are the females expected/force to be "womanly"? Are they glad or sad?
Are we told to identify with or like certain behaviors or characters?
(2) Freudian Psychoanalytic Theory
What does psychoanalysis reveal in/about this exhibit?
How is the psyche functioning?
Are there any dreams to analyze?
Is any character seeking or achieving a narcissistic bliss?
Oedipus complex present?
Sexual symbology?
Feminist Critical Statements:
Instead of the weak, lazy, privileged Simba, Nala should be named heir to Mufasa's throne:
--1. She is physically stronger than Simba. "Pinned ya agin."
--2. She shows more self-discipline and responsibility.
--3. She hunts better than Simba, who simply lays around and eats slugs.
The awful message is sent to kids that men are privileged simply because they are men. This notion is dogmatic. "Dogma"--something is said to be true "just because" or "that's the way it is" or "that's the way it has always been done." Sarabi = a possession, horribly. Lily C. ≠ possession.
The lionesses work much harder than Mufasa, who won't even listen to his messages from Zazu, his "Secretary of State."
Using these three critical lenses will improve your critical thinking and analytical reading skills--the skills that help most in college and career.
More Marxist Thoughts:
The hyenas have voices of a black woman (Whoopi Goldberg) and a Hispanic man (Cheech Marin); the third is just crazy (Cuckoo's Nest will show us how our society treats people with mental illnesses). The hyenas represent outsiders who cannot gain access into the prosperous world of white people.
The message: stable, white people are good, others are not. White Americans are good; intellectuals deserve less power and control. Plus, the British are particularly wimpy and pathetic artsy-fartsy, nimbly-pimbly fog-loving smokers with bad teeth (Jeremy Irons is the voice of Scar.)
It seems Simba is anointed by birth--he has won the genetic and environmental lotteries.

(However, James Earl Jones, a black man, is the voice of Mufasa. But like President Obama, many critics/bigots would say he "sounds white.")
narcissistic bliss
power struggles
Oedipus complex
Marx--Lions have been chosen; why do they get to be rich?
Freud--Pride Rock is a phallic symbol of masculine power.

Freudian theory:
No kids
No wife
No responsibilities
Living like R.P. McMurphy of Cuckoo's Nest
Marxist theory: Be a bachelor, but not for too long; society needs families to
sustain its order and
rules and ethics.
Insiders = good
Outsiders = bad
The Chosen Ones--chosen by what? By whom? Have rich, white, old, powerful American people been chosen to lead the world in money, comfort, fame, and happiness = narcissistic bliss?
Brock Lesnar
Shenzi = black woman
Banzai = Hispanic man
Ed = "crazy" guy
Whoopi Goldberg
as Shenzi
Cheech Marin
as Banzai
James Earl Jones
as Mufasa
You might never think

...the same ways again...

And you'll be better for it.
Analyze like this
here and in college--
You'll thrive,
not dive.

See more.
Uncover more.
Understand more.
Question more.
Wonder more.
Imagine more.
Nala should be King!
Jeremy Irons--
Brits are weaker, brooding & sad, smarter (but
not in good ways),
better than the French, but not as good as us. Undeniably, we are not supposed to like Scar. His accent, femininity, and intellect help us dislike him.
Why is the prey thrilled a new predator exists to make their lives even more misera-
Rafiki: the minstrel connected to the heavens--a wacky black hermit speaks the gods' wishes and
the son
The sun (nature) is the giver of life. Sun = God in this story. God selected white Americans, like lions?
Hispanics, Blacks (esp. women), and the mentally ill =
The marginalized or banished populations in U.S.:
they belong outside the Circle of Life, right?
Circle of Life = Flourishing capitalism?

Dr. Talcott's Query--How do you justify your citizenship and rights? Do you deserve to be an American? Live up to reputation and expectations?
No wonder the hyenas assemble and march like Nazis--they're starving, desperate, and discounted!
Don't get me wrong.
I am a firm capitalist. Communism does not, has not worked. However, I do believe in CAPITALISM WITH A CONSCIENCE toward its miserable members. I am a Marxist literary critic, but not a communist. Cool?
Marxist Approach: "Money" in The Lion King = food, water, shelter (Pride Rock), land (kingdom where the prey travels), females, respect, power, status
The Genetic Lottery:
neurons (capacity to be smart)
The Environmental Lottery:
family (& influence)
wealth or poverty
Which lottery did Scar win or lose?
Which lottery did Mufasa win or lose?
Freudian Critical Statements:
Simba unquestionably possesses an Oedipal complex, revealed in his song "I just can't wait to be king!" To be king, Mufasa would have to die. Simba, consciously or subconsciously, wishes for Mufasa to die.
Simba rejects his superego and satisfies his id by abandoning all responsibilities to exist pleasurefully with Timon and Pumbaa. Simba seeks and achieves a narcissistic bliss until Nala reminds him of his role.
This story is essentially Hamlet by William Shakespeare, a play almost entirely about psychoanalysis, which was basically invented by Sigmund Freud.
Pride Rock can be interpreted as a phallic symbol.
Scar = The Joker; but do we have sympathy for Scar?
She's physically stronger--
pins him to the ground
many times. And she's smarter!
--it's her idea that
helps them ditch Zazu.

"Nala" = gift, as if she
were some possession or object
Notice the moon too!--looks like the symbol for communism. A capital "C."
Heil Hitler!
Heil Hitler!
Sigmund Freud

Karl Marx
Rafiki, the minstrel/shaman/priest in this
pro-spirituality film
Marxist Critical Statements:
The only character not to receive a cool African name, Scar deserves to be king; he's by far smarter than Mufasa, but he's not as strong or handsome. Would be like electing Brock Lesnar, strong and handsome South Dakotan who is among the best UFC cage fighters, President of the United States.
(We cannot merely dismiss The Lion King as "just an animal story." This story definitely affects worldviews of children. Disney wields immeasurable power regarding our ethics, priorities, and perspectives.
The message: brawn over brains gets you power, money, respect.

Why are Timon & Pumbaa welcomed into the Pride, but not the hyenas?
They're entertaining jesters.
They are "rich peers" with great real estate to offer the lions a share of (a valuable waterhole--that resembles a golf course, a valuable place in the human world).
Timon shows real estate intelligence a lot; he finds the best place to live & calls the rainless Reign of Scar a "fixer-upper." The lions are wise to keep him alive.
They raised Simba, so the lions reward them.
They pose no threat to the lions' resources. (Timon & Pumbaa don't want to eat the same animals; the hyenas pose a threat.)
"sounds white" = "sounds smart" Racist statements.
"sounds black = "sounds dumb"
Nala could have whipped Scar and
become King herself long ago, but
rigid gender roles & rules exist.
Matthew Broderick as Simba
She used to say,
"I'm gonna marry you, Dad."
"Electra complex" =
"Oedipus complex" for girls
Now, she says,
"I'm gonna marry
a football boy."
Wonder from where
she got that notion?!
Students can interpret and respond to diverse, multicultural, and time period texts.

12.R.4.1 Students can evaluate the depiction of human experience in literary works from diverse cultures, locations, and time periods.
Students can recognize and analyze words.

12.R.1.1 Students can interpret the meaning of unfamiliar words by selecting context clues.
Students can apply knowledge of text structures, literary devices, and literary elements to develop interpretations and form responses.

12.R.3.1 Students can evaluate text for the author’s style.
Students can comprehend and fluently read text.

12.R.2.1 Students can evaluate how style affects the meaning of text.
12.R.2.2 Students can read fluently to comprehend grade-level text.
Peacocks & Pheasants--
Females choose the mates. Changed the way we thought about courtship.
Pro-Heterosexuality; Pro-Capitalism
Pro-Caucasian; Pro-Wealth; Pro-Democracy; Pro-Jock; Anti-Feminine; & Anti-Intellectual THIS FILM
What have they hyenas done wrong--other than be born as hyenas (way down the social ladder)? What have women, gays, Hispanics (any degraded population) done wrong?

The hyenas don't know the balance of democracy! They would eat, eat, eat until barren/drought conditions? (They've been starved and neglected.)
What are his functions & roles? Should Disney recommend religion?
Deconstruction: notice binary oppositions
Some positive messages; some negative messages. Regardless, we can analyze, discuss, and think critically about this great film--especially with the Lenses.
“EXHIBIT” = novel, play, song, sculpture, film, poem, concert, painting, myth, sketch, poster, artwork, photograph, t-shirt, television show, biography, speech, advertisement, event, place/building (school, office), game, brochure, practice, rehearsal, ritual, haircut/style, website, routine, job, suit coat…
Lee Ann Roripaugh
John Dudley
Poor Scar must feel like Michael Jordan's sons: failures no matter what they do. We have to feel sympathy for Scar...until he goes too far.
We shouldn't armwrestle to see who earns the best grades, right?
"interpellate" is Louis Althusser's term: to be brainwashed, trained, conditioned by social rules, but to falsely believe you are thinking freely, independently and for yourself
The sun never shines on the hyenas, so therefore, does God not bless/like the poor?
Tough to be Scar. Tough to be my brother, too. Ask me about the story of our adolescence together.
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