The Lion King
was an animated film released in 1994 and became an instant classic. The Lion King tells the story of a jealous, cunning uncle (Scar) who murderers his brother (Mufasa) and drives away his rightful heir (Simba) to gain control of Pride Rock. At first, it’s obvious who the antagonist is. Scar is clearly the conniving, greedy thief, right? Maybe not, my friends.
In the film, Mufasa explains to his son in one of the most memorable sentences in animated film history: “Everything the light touches is our kingdom.” Now, what’s beyond the light? What’s hidden amongst the shadows? Where the hyenas live. The elephant graveyard. Why is that? Nobody would willingly live in a field of mastodon skeletons and perpetual darkness, so why do the hyenas? It’s because they’re forced to live there. Several times in the beginning of the film the main characters regard the hyenas as nothing but dirty scavengers.
They segregated the hyenas. Mufasa ruled Pride Rock with hatred and racism against an entire species!
And what about Scar? Scar lived with the hyenas! In the beginning of the film, Scar makes this comment when Mufasa visits him after he didn’t show up for Simba’s coronation: “Why, if it isn’t my big brother descending from upon high to mingle with the commoners!” Scar, despite being technically a part of the royal family, is given no special treatment. He’s essentially, exactly as he put it, another one of the commoners, and he regards that fact with bitterness. He wants to be pampered, he wants to be waited on, so he manipulates the hyenas to help him overtake Pride Rock.
But that still makes Scar the bad guy, right? Let me explain further. The hyenas were starving, and Scar promised them that once he became king of Pride Rock he was going to grant them a sufficient amount of food. Now, I know, he didn’t follow through with this promise, but at least he promised them something. Mufasa, on the other hand, promised nothing, only demanded blind loyalty to the monarchy. Scar may be comparable to Fidel Castro, but Mufasa is definitely comparable to Joseph Stalin. Do you think that the elephants and the hippos and the giraffes like the “circle of life”? No! If Mufasa wanted to have the moral high ground as leader, he would push for a kingdom-wide vegetarian diet.