Name: Mohammad Alharbi
Course: Read American Culture
The Lion King
Disney’s output and reception of its animated films attract viewers from different cultures. Disney movies have received criticism from various people, ranging from the elite and high cultured in society, such as politicians, to the low cultured viewers, who watch the movies for entertainment. Disney focuses on children’s culture, which exemplifies innocence and wants to identify with the characters in the films. By using art, music and history, Disney spreads the culture of morality in America through its films. Disney world themes, ideologies, pedagogy, morals and culture are reflected, recognized and represented in fashion and institutions such as schools, restaurants, hotels, theaters and parks among others.
A majority of the children in America, if asked their favorite movie, will mention at least one from Walt Disney. Even the adults remember much of the Walt Disney movies and shows they used to watch when they were young. Many people enjoy watching Disney productions. Disney movies shape how many people view the American culture. Disney is seen as a “metonym for “America”–clean, decent, industrious, “the happiest place on earth.” “Legal institutions, film theorists, cultural critics, and loyal audiences guard the boarders of Disney film as “off limits” to the critical enterprise (Bell and Haas 3).” Disney films enhance the American culture by providing a market place for products and merchandise such as stuffed toys, children’s clothing, video cassettes, furniture, soundtrack albums, and new rides at theme parks among other products. These products and merchandise account for a remarkably high percentage in profit and earns billions of dollars in revenue. The Lion King film has changed the relationship of America and other countries like Japan, who claim that the film was copied from a similar production in their country. However, this incident did not harm the sale of the film. It instead created awareness through the media, and this ensured extraordinarily high sales in the country (Kuwahara 2).
The movie Lion King teaches children not only to enjoy life, but also to have an identity and be responsible people as they grow up. The movie has many inspiring songs. For instance, the song “Circle of Life” teaches about the importance of life. It teaches that birth, creation and death are a natural part of life. The story focuses on life’s realities, and it is, therefore, relevant for everybody. The movie teaches children the importance of cleanliness as is seen when Nala declines to go with Simba until he bathes. The movie also illustrates and stresses the importance of family, regardless of whether the members are good or bad. Films like Lion King teach both children and adults to understand the moral significance of their lives. Therefore, Disney has a role to provide responsible and moral vision for the people (Coles 90).
The Disney films are retold fairy tales that contribute much to the American culture. These stories give moral teachings and values using narratives so that the children can understand better. The use of pictures, words, and music make the children involved and interested in the story that they are caught up in the narration. Narratives are mythical. The lion is the myth in the movie and he is considered sacred. Many theorists support the use of narratives to educate people about cultural issues and ethicality. For instance, the story involves biblical stories of the savior and the peace that he brings after his coming. This religious approach enables the children to understand religion and spirituality. In addition, Disney aimed at teaching the children a positive lesson on behavior through the Lion King.
The use of music in the Disney films shows the talents of the music composers in Disney world. The theme song, “Circle of Life” is about life and death and relationships, and it shoes that people need each other to survive (Ward 5).music is one of the most crucial elements of animated movies, and other films such as Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin have also incorporated music. The audience enjoys the music, and as they sing along, they retain the message and they are unlikely to forget it. This helps them understand the movie in a better and deeper way. The songs used in animation films arouse an emotional experience within the audience. They bring out exotic and stereotypical heroes and villains in the films. The musical scores and magical fantasy are representations that emulate the stereotypes, which are the characteristics of Disney view of children’s culture (Ward 5). All animated Disney movies use music as an integral part of plot development. The music helps in enhancing some of the themes in the movie. They also help in enhancing the characters in the stories, and this helps to identify the heroes and the villains in the story.
Disney movies do not complicate the fairy tales they are based on. This is because they are meant for the purpose of impressing the children and helping them to understand the world in an uncomplicated manner. This is the perspectives of the high and middle cultured people, who criticized the symbolism and meaning of the animal characters, stating that they portrayed racism, homosexuality, violence and stereotyping. Some critics believe that the hyenas are a representation of the urban blacks, thus depicting racism. They also believe that Scar was gay, thus portraying homosexuality. They identified offensive stereotypes such as the murder of Simba’s father and the jive-talking hyenas. They complained about the violent death of Musafa, and they pointed out that it was scary to the children and the animal kingdom. Some critics commented that sexism was so prevalent in the movie, and females were given minor roles. Another prevalent theme in the movie was capitalism. This was highlighted in the film and it showed how the political society plots against each other. It showed how people could unite and plot against the current authority in an attempt to take over the leadership position. This is seen clearly, when Scar urges the hyenas to unite and fight for him. They managed to defeat Musafa, and they took over the land (Morton 1).
Walt Disney films are made for children. All the criticism comes from the adults, who have a different perspective, and they interpret the message in the movie differently. Therefore, the educators, politicians, theorists and the other significant others, should learn to leave the criticism when it is not necessary, since it spoils the understanding of the children’s world. The films highlight real issues in the society and the world and they are meant to entertain, please, and educate the children, to enable them to familiarize with the world using narratives.