Opinion #12: The Lion King

by Jennifer Has Opinions

I’ve been spending a fair amount of time with Simba, Nala, Timon, Pumba and Zazu lately. I mean, that list right there is proof of just how much time I’ve been spending with them- not only did I know the bird advisor’s name is Zazu, but I also knew how to spell it. That’s not the kind of thing known to a casual viewer of The Lion King. I, however, am not the casual viewer. I am the mother of a six-year-old. A six-year-old who always chooses The Lion King for her pre-bedtime television viewing. A six-year-old who loves Simba so much that my husband and I were willing to shell out money for orchestra seats when the musical came to town this week. Have I proven my Lion King street cred yet?

When, as an adult, you are forced to watch a Disney movie over and over and over again, your mind switches into emergency self-defense mode. It wants to protect you from cartoon hyenas signing “Be Prepared” being permanently imprinted in your brain, so it allows you to start over-thinking the movie. I am a natural over-thinker, so I totally leaned in to that situation, and I’ve developed a couple of observations. 

First of all, and this is such an obvious plot question that I can’t believe it took 42 viewings for it to occur to me, I would like to know what Timon and Pumba are running from. No, seriously. They pull Simba (who, granted, is pretty weak-minded, even for a cub) into their whole Hakuna Matata lifestyle, saying things like “When the world turns its back on you, you turn your back on the world!” Well, wait a minute. I know the movie’s run time can’t really exceed the attention span of an average kindergartener, but what happened? What separated these guys from the meerkat and warthog communities? And how did they find each other? Some backstory, please. I know there are hints that Pumba was too gassy for his community, but that appear to me to be some classic glossing over of the real issue. And there’s absolutely no mention of what went down with Timon. Inquiring minds want to know.

My other observation concerns Nala. Now, I know this is Disney and damsel in distress is their bread and butter, but still. I’m going to go there. So, Nala seems like a pretty bad ass lion in her own right. Way more bad ass than Simba, for sure. So my question is, why didn’t she organize some sort of lioness uprising against Scar and the hyenas? She would have been more than capable. And why was she so desperate for Simba to come along and save them all? I mean, Simba, of all animals. It’s too bad Nala didn’t have anyone in her life encouraging her to save herself. 

So, am I on my own here, or does anyone else find themselves watching The Lion King and coming up with questions of eternal significance, like are all baboons new age, or just Rafiki? I’d love to commiserate. I’d also love to get my six-year-old into The Cosby Show before you see similar posts on Brave, Cars, etc. (but not Sleeping Beauty. Never Sleeping Beauty. That’s my line in the sand),