Animated Movies Created by Disney: the Lion King

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Animated movies and shows, especially ones created by Disney, have been an important aspect of children’s culture for many many years. These movies and shows may be seen as strong examples of the kinds of entertainment that trigger imagination, protect one's innocence, and create a new sense of adventure, which is seen to be good for children’s growing brains.

Despite the fact that females may have more screen time during movies, in a majority of Disney movies we do not see female characters above over males, in regard to their behaviors and social status. The female roles throughout The Lion King are seen as powerless and unfit of independent actions. In this Disney movie, we get an understanding of leadership and family. Every one of the animals who have ruled Pride Rock, Simba, Scar, and Mufasa, are all males. All the other animals will bow down to them and do as they say and want. The lions pass their crown down from father to son which means they are living in a patriarchy.

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The whole opening scene whirls around the baptism-like ceremony of Simba. From here on out, it was simple to see that the movie encourages a certain religion and it interprets the priest in a positive way. Apart from the baptism of Simba, we also see a difference in race between Mufasa, Simba’s father, and his brother which is Scar. Scar is looked and seen as an evil lion with a dark coat and a foreign accent, which is much darker than Mufasa's. Separated from the rest of the Pride Lands, Scar lives with the hyenas. In many situations, the evil part of the land is where Simba is told to stay away from, which shows watchers that these dark-coated characters, Scar and the hyenas, are looked at as outsiders and strangers.

Continuing on, we see Simba struggle while growing up with his approval of royalty, which basically features the difference in a hierarchy of power. Mufasa is the king over all the other animals, and his son is the next in line for his king spot. Scar's jealousy of Mufasa's power, “the ability to mobilize resources and achieve goals despite the resistance of others,” is very much on display for watchers to see. The Lion King does not at any point allow the question of a queen ruling instead of a king, Mufasa, showing watchers that it is a male-only class throughout.

Later on in the movie, Scar and the hyenas, plan to kill Mufasa and take over the land and his ruling position. The segregation between the hyenas and the rest of the pride land is looked at through the actual setting, which is the home of the hyenas, being a dark and evil side of the land and indicates that they are at the very bottom of the social structure. Therefore, the hyenas are an example of symbolic interactionism, “a microsociological perspective that posits that both the individual self and society as a whole are the products of social interactions based on language and other symbols”. The hyenas are symbols, they are seen as these dark evil animals with scary squinty eyes, and we as Americans know this as “bad” so they are placed in dark, evil, and scary living conditions.

For a good portion of the movie, we see Mufasa’s parenting skills as he is teaching Simba the proper way to rule the land and get him to accept royalty. Mufasa is raising Simba and teaching him morals and this is an example of socialization, “the process by which people learn the culture of their society” , he is socializing his son, Simba. He is portrayed as a very kind and loving father, with good communication skills, but knows when he needs to be strict. In one instance, when Simba is almost killed for running into the bad part of the land, Mufasa is very strict with him and basically makes the situation into a lesson for him to learn. This is an example of why I think Mufasa’s affection and sternness make him a great authoritative parent.

Another aspect throughout the movie I noticed was the use of gender roles. In the movie, generally, women are seen as kind, warm, and smart. It is said that they are the hunters of any of the lion packs. Aside from the fact that the female lions are capable of hunting and defending themselves, I thought that the portrayal of female characters was strongly stereotypical and promoted a messaged of inequality, “differences in wealth, power, and other valued resources”. The female characters do not share the same power as the male characters. The movie basically shows that women are in charge of gathering and preparing the food for the men. In one scene, the females bathe the young cub, which further shows that females are responsible for all of the family chores. Overall, the movie shows the women as insignificant characters that simply take care of their children and bring food to the rest of the lions.

Animated movies created by Disney, such as The Lion King, can shape children's actions, behaviors, and the way they may view things. Children and even adults can learn a lot from watching these animated movies. We can see the inequality of genders throughout a lot of these movies and we as Americans may see this occur every day in our day to day lives. The Lion King, and many other Disney movies are reflected off us as Americans and how we live. 

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