Analysis Of "The Lion King" Movie

Having not seen The Lion King before and watching it with a critical lens about punishment, I have learned to watch films from opposing point of views and create various arguments as to how, not only The Lion King, but multiple Disney films can relate to intersectionality, punishment and carceral politics. Furthermore, I can now make connections from The Lion King to my social locations as a first-generation, middle-class WOC, such as associating my social class to the hierarchy of classism prevalent in The Lion King. For instance, Mufasa and the other lions are viewed as upper-class, the hyenas are viewed as lower-class and the other animals living in Pride Lands are of middle-class. In addition, I can also make connections to my personal history, such as Mufasa and Scar’s sibling rivalry and fight for authority to my sister and I’s fight for domination within our household.

As for the specific uses of punishment depicted in The Lion King, an apparent observation was Scar's tactics for control, dominance, and his forcible confinement. By using a gender-based lens, this observation reminded me of Davis' article on how gender structures the prison system. For instance, state-inflicted corporeal punishment and physical assaults have been used as a means of policing gender towards women within prison systems (Gurusami 2018). In addition, through the absence of women in power in The Lion King, Davis addresses how institutions such as prisons are highly sexualized towards women, such as the notion that men in prison are deviant, and women in prison have mental health issues (Davis 2003). Given these examples, I have learned to connect my social locations and use my personal history to grasp a better understanding of The Lion King. In regard to carceral politics, Route 66 discusses the 100 to 1 disparity and racial disproportions within prisons, such as higher incarceration rates for women and POC (Gurusami 2018).

In comparison, there is a separation within The Lion King’s environment that is sexualized and hostile towards lionesses. For example, Nala, Sarabi and Shenzi are deemed as helpless, unprivileged and subordinate due to rigid gender roles, all of which softens the image of women. However, Nala is dominant and physically more capable than Simba, hence her actions of repeatedly pinning him down. This relates to the marginalization towards women within the prison system, and how criminality and sexuality intersect in a way that deviant women are viewed as obstructing rigid gender roles and social norms (Davis 2003). Furthermore, given the history of US prisons and their gendered approach to reintegrating women back into society, deviant women are only seen as female subjects whose main purpose is to become better wives and mothers, and this relates well to the lionesses in The Lion King, seeing as their main purpose is to take care of their children and tend to their husbands (Gurusami 2018).

Another example of carceral politics and classism in this film is that the hyenas are like people with criminal convictions, people in prisons and lower-class men as opposed to the leaders of Pride Lands, the government and Upper-class elites who possess greater power, control, and stability. Another form of marginalization within The Lion King is the dislike and racism directed towards Scar and his deeper complexion in comparison to the other lions. I believe we are influenced to dislike Scar in this film, due to his accent and femininity, all of which are evolved around stigmas. As stated in Palmater's reading, racialized violence, the abuse of power and sexism is at the forefront for police treatment within Canada, and racism is a heavy influence within the police and justice system (Palmater 2016). Having said that, I believe the above examples are of great importance when looking at the punishment, carceral politics, and intersectionality within The Lion King.

03 December 2019
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