Ethnicity In The Lion King

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Upon the release of The Lion King, the African continent was uncharted territory for Disney and many had differing opinions about the way in which ethnicity is addressed within the film. In this essay, the reviews from Steve Twomey for The Washington Post and Edward Rothstein for The New York Times are contrasting opinions about the film and are compared to Carolyn Newburger’s infamous review for The Boston Globe. Though Newberger’s claims have been labelled as hyperbolic in their critique of the film, they offer valid insight into the way in which the film could be interpreted by an African-American audience as a degrading representation of their community, particularly in comparison to Africans. One woman whose criticism became very popular during this time, Carolyn Newburger, states in her analysis of the film that it was intolerant toward particularly poor black people. Though she does make note of Scar, he is not the only villain in the film. She specifically…show more content…
He notes that the topic of ethnicity is not unfamiliar within Disney films but their strategy tying it into the conclusion has changed. Originally, despite ethnic characters being riddled with stereotype and cliche, Disney films tend to follow a pattern where “the ethnic character ends up becoming mainstream, and the mainstream ends up learning from and accepting the ethnic character” (Rothstein 98). This is exemplified in Dumbo where the crows, meant to represent African-Americans, are initially laughing at the elephant but are soon sympathetic toward his situation and help him to fly. Rothstein claims that The Lion King offers a new Disney myth where the story is no longer about understanding and assimilation but instead the emphasis is placed on ethnic identity. The outsiders are sinister and pose as a threat to the purity of the Pride, what Rothstein would refer to as
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