Let’s see: The story is set in Africa, and all the characters are members of the animal kingdown. When it was made into an animated feature film, all of the voice parts were acted by black people, with the veteran actor James Earle Jones doing the voice-over for Mufasa, the wise lion who sired the main character, Simba. Jones will be reprising his role in the upcoming Disney remake of the children’s classic. But in spite of all this, “The Lion King” is tale of fascism and white supremacy.
So declares The Washington Post. Dan Hassler-Forest, who writes and speaks publicly on cultural theory and political economy, advises that the film depicts “a society where the weak have learned to worship at the feet of the strong. … ‘The Lion King’ offers us a seductive worldview in which absolute power goes unquestioned, and where the weak and the vulnerable are fundamentally inferior.”
Hassler-Forest goes on in this vein for another 1,200 words. “‘The Lion King,'” he explains to readers, “offers us fascist ideology writ large.”
Just as fascist leaders constantly pinpoint specific groups to vilify and cast out from their view of a ‘balanced’ society, the film’s heroes are preoccupied with keeping their kingdom free of contamination by undesirable characters, who are consigned to the shadowy ghettolike areas ‘beyond our borders’ — on the wrong side of the tracks. With these elements in place, the film’s plot centers on what happens when the ‘natural’ supremacy of patriarchal rule is interrupted.
Hassler-Forest doesn’t come out directly and militate against taking young children or grandchildren to see the remake, but he does warn in his final paragraph that the film may not be age-appropriate — for any of us:
At a moment when the far right is on the rise, when we debate whether to call the horrific shelters on our border concentration camps, and when anti-Semitic and Islamophobic hate crimes continue to increase, we should ask ourselves what it means to obsessively revisit narratives that celebrate the strong, the beautiful and the powerful, while looking down upon the rebels, the outcasts and the powerless. ‘The Lion King’ is exactly that kind of story, and it will take more than Beyoncé’s regal vocal cords to redeem it for the next generation.