OMG! I CAN’T EVEN. THIS IS EVERYTHING. So it’s official, The Lion King is getting a live action remake – and Hollywood Hegemony is here to confirm everything you need to know about this amazing cinematic re-imagining. SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY, #amIright? So in honour of the various Buzzfeed-type sites currently pandering to the swarm of salivating millennials already congregating outside Vue in anticipation, here’s a listicle – since that’s all you people seem to understand – telling you all about it.
- IT’S NOT “LIVE-ACTION” YOU DINGBATS
Some-form-of-award-winning Donald Glover (son of that guy who is too old for this shit*) and James Earl Jones (a man who is actually too old for this shit) of CNN advert fame are already confirmed for the cast of the live action version of Disney’s timeless classic – and as everyone continues to glibly state this Lion King is indeed live action I will assume that means they are literally going to dress up in lion-onesies, fight over scraps of raw buffalo, and urinate against shrubs to mark their territory in the sun-baked savanna. Anything less than this and I will be reporting them to Trading Standards for false advertising.
Seriously though, there is something deeply sad about this trend that Disney have set with Cinderella, The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast and now The Lion King. I’m not saying there is no place in the world for CGI – but the way this is being used is to eradicate another form of art. Drawing gives us a way of imagining new worlds to better understand, or critique our own. “Updating” cartoons to real life is to say that firstly you believe no audience could ever suspend their disbelief in something less than photo-realistic. Secondly converting drawn to “live” is to say to the would-be-artistic kid doodling in Math class “hey, child, I’d get back to the algebra if I were you, there’s no room in this world for imagination anymore.” Everything looking like it “should” is just another way that insidious ideology can inhibit cinematic creation and artistic expression – and as I’m about to mention, it normalises ideological assumptions that are tied to that “realism”.
- The circle of life is Reaganomics – no, really!
In The Lion King dominant ideology is attached to the natural world, thus making them appear as if normal and even desirable. Heteronormative relationships? Check. Implicit casual racism? Check. Vilified homosexual antagonist whose greatest crime is to threaten the established order and promise equal rights to an underclass of the Savannah and literally get called a Nazi for it? Check, Scar, check. Perhaps the most disturbing human construct being normalised by this movie – and soon it’s “even more realistic and naturalised” remake – though, is trickle down economics.
In the circle of life, antelope, wildebeast, zebra, et al, gather to celebrate the birth of a new lion; someone who will literally tear them to pieces for sustenance. Why? Because despite the fact over the course of his life he will eat hundreds of them, when he poops, or eventually when he dies, that will in some small way help fertilise the grass the herds eat… and enabling future generations of lions to keep eating them.
In the free market, people like Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and now their hideous 21st century remakes Donald Trump and Theresa May, claim that the richer they get, the better for you. Sure, they exploit you by paying you less than your back-breaking labour is worth and own 100% of the wealth you create; but when they spaff all the ill-gotten profits you made them on frivolities like yachts or illegal wars – it benefits you because that creates more exploitative work for you to continue your pathetic hand-to-mouth existence. Basically, kids and kidults, The Lion King is about teaching you to rejoice in your role as a prey animal for the veracious Donald Trumps of the world. Lucky you.
- It’s not even realistic from a lion’s perspective
Considering this is a version of the film that “prides” itself on realism, the social habits of the lion will still be badly misrepresented. For example, as I have mentioned many times to scared-looking strangers at house parties who I trapped in the kitchen, Simba and Nala are SIBLINGS. Now unless this was an intentional dig at the very human construct of monarchy, and how it lends itself to inbreeding (see: Prince Charles’ face, or Kate and Wills’ family tree) on which the plot also centres, this was pretty gross! Mufasa is the only breeding male associated with the pride (Scar, as we mentioned, is not a viable candidate) so we can safely assume Mufasa is the father of both Nala and Simba. In real life, young males are chased permanently from the pride to stop them creating mutant offspring that would eventually see the pride disintegrate.
- This is stupid and you are stupid for liking it.
Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being stuck in a perpetual infancy as much as the next millennial, defecating in my Stormtrooper underpants and waiting for Mummy to come and clean it up with Fireman Sam wet-wipes, but I we can’t keep burying our heads in the sand of nostalgia while the world is going to hell. It’s all very well sharing articles from Vice about how our generation can’t afford to buy a house, or that there’s no work for you as a Humanities graduate outside of Starbucks, but if you keep losing your shit over the grey reconstituted meat that is Disney’s current production cycle – well, politicians and businesses are going to keep serving it to us like the intellectual doormats we are. Case in point, despite having all the charisma of a comatose Liam Neeson, Emma Watson is treated as a legitimate actress because our generation is still so hung up on Harry Potter.
- This cycle is going places. Bad places.
So, Dumbo – which as it’s apologists like to point out was made “in a different time”, features hideous racial stereotyping and jokes about segregation. Will Disney be remaking that too? How would they cast Jim Crow (see, the joke is he is an actual crow, named Jim – which is also the name of the laws used to keep black people from having equal rights. Pretty hilarious right?)? Would they cast a black actor? Would they cast a white person doing a “black” voice as with Cliff Edwards in the original? Would liberals then miss the point and take to Tumblr to complain about white-washing the role, and ask for more diversity in their racist propaganda? All these questions and more will ultimately be dodged by Disney because they know better than to try – but just because they pick less overtly horrible films to do over, don’t mistake their films for simple entertainment, because they are still riddled with conservative assumptions, and don’t mistake them for your omnipotent friends. Disney are ultimately operating as a corporation first and foremost – and these films are not just easy money, they present an open goal in decreasing employment rights in their studio. Where once even the best artist would still be noticeably different if traded out during a picture, the CGI age had produced a plethora of identikit, dead-behind-the-eyes, uncanny valley characters that look the same in every movie, never mind every scene. Animators are on the verge of becoming the most expendable employees at Uncle Walt’s disposal. Your excitement and dollars are feeding into that – and at the same time your employment rights will suffer when more emboldened capitalists engage in a new race to the bottom. It’s one of those circle of life kind of things.
Please, don’t remake this.
*I am aware that Danny Glover is not related to Donald Glover. I just don’t really know who Donald Glover is in general and needed to make a joke.