“Philadelphia” And The Lion King Essay, Research Paper
Studies in Popular Culture
Willful Ignorance and The Lion King
The subject of willful ignorance in the movie Philadelphia is obvious as the
partners in Andy?s law firm pretend to not notice that he is sick with the deadly
syndrome AIDS. This is a form of power on their point because they use it to
justify firing Andy for fear of contamination. Willful ignorance is also a major
part of The Lion King. The main difference in the two movies though is that in
Philadelphia, willful ignorance is shown through the characters of the law firm
partners. In The Lion King we as an audience are the ones who are invited to be
ignorant to the subject matter held within.
The main points of the forced ignorance in the movie are the fact that Scar?s
sexuality is masked through the movie and that his true identity of being a
homosexual is never discussed, only hinted at. The fact that the hyenas represent
inner city black youth, is never discussed or pointed out is another example. The
last example is how in The Lion King the circle of life is a paradox to the food
chain. This shows how the lions symbolizing white suburban America is always on
The fact that Scar is gay in this movie is a curious one. The movie?s villain
turns out to be gay. So what does that say about the communities outlook on
homosexuals. Scars quote to Simba when he is younger ? You have no idea? in
response to Simba?s statement ?You?re really weird uncle Scar?, hints at Scars true
self. The audience?s ignorance is invited by the movie through dialogue like this.
The audience?s hatred for Scar comes into play when Scars sexuality comes into
question. They are forced to hate Scar for being the villain but why not make Scar
gay so the audience has not choice to hate gay people. The comment by Mufasa?s
messenger ? There?s always one in every family.?, is another example of how the
movie hints at Scar?s sexuality. Also the example of Scar being gay is used in the
movies reason why he is so wicked. Being the villain, he wants everything to be
his way. This relays the message that a straight world is not an option in the minds
of homosexuals. This gives audiences another hidden hatred for homosexuals and
tarnishes the way they should be seen as fellow human beings.
The second way The Lion King invites the audience to be ignorant of it?s
message is the guise placed on the fact that the hyenas in the movie represent inner
city black youth. The movies outlook on these creatures is that they live in the
?slum? of the kingdom otherwise identified as the elephant grave yard. This
continues as a biased view as the hyenas are shown to be the end of civilization as
the lions know it to be at the end of the movie when the kingdom is show to be in
ruins as a cause of the hyenas. These images give the audience the subconscious
view that inner city black youth is the evil and if they are allowed to rise from
where they came from the upper white middle class, the lions, will lose everything.
It is also not a coincidence that the hyenas are placed, much like inner city youth,
in a slum. The hyenas also have a attitude and overall evilness about them which
is seen as a stereotypical view that most white middle class and upper class people
have for inner city black youth. The last way that the audience is invited to look
over the movies agenda to stereotype inner city black youth is everyone in the
kingdoms hatred for the lowly hyenas and all they stand for.
The final point where The Lion King is shown to be a forceful suit of
and reveals its hidden ideological agenda is through the so called circle of life in
the movie. An example of this is where Mufasa is taking Simba through a tour of
his majestic kingdom. Mufasa says ?Simba all the light touches is ours?, this
shows the superiority of the white upper-middle class, symbolized by the lions.
Mufasa goes on to say that, ?we are all a part of the great circle of life. From the
grazing antelope to the tiny ant ? and that every animal is connected to each other.
After this Simba soon questions the circle, and asks ?don?t we eat the antelope??.
This is where we are invited to be ignorant of the subject at hand. Mufasa gives
Simba a cheesy explanation that they turn into grass when they die and the
antelope eat the grass. etc. But what Mufasa is really explaining to Simba is that
they live at the top of the food chain. Instead of a circle where they are only a part,
they are members of a chain where they rule. This is where the audience is forced
to believe that the lions have good intentions and aren?t the supreme rulers of the
kingdom even though they really are.
The hidden ideological view of this is that the lions or the upper-middle class
whites rule over all and can take what they want when they want. The overall
view of the paradox between willful ignorance and The Lion King is also show
through the circle of life?s hesitation to include the hyenas in its ranks. This goes
back to the hidden connotation of the hyenas representing inner city black youth.
Overall in the movie The Lion King willful ignorance is very much a part
of the movie, in that the creators have hidden their own outlook and bias on the
work. Just as Andy?s partners in the law firm decide to pretend not to know he is
sick, the creators of this movie may pretend not to know all the hidden stereotypes
and overall ideological view they have included in it. The subject of the viewing
audience is a different subject though. They are being shown a this subject matter,
but its being masked behind a Disney film is where the argument begins. Some
say that they are forced not to see that Scar is gay or the hyenas represent inner city
black youth or that the lions, symbolizing white upper-middle class America,
control the system represented by the circle of life or the food chain. I believe that
they are invited to not see this though. The audience is tempted not to look that far
into the movie for fear of feeling guilty. The fact that they themselves could
possibly be the lions or anyone else in the movie could cast a shadow of guilt on
themselves. Because no one wants to be called a stereotypical racist or a bigot. For
these reasons I believe that the audience is only invited as far as they want to go.
The comfortable mask of a Disney movie makes it even easier to stomach. All in
all willful ignorance is a great form of power, in the matter that it is the most useful
tool to keep people where you think they may belong in a certain class structure.