Type: Review
Pages: 7 | Words: 1991
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The Lion King, an animated movie from Disney world, portrays how societies become dysfunctional when some classes of people are valued highly and treated better than others.


The movie revolves around the story of a lion cub’s adulthood journey, as well as his coming to terms with royal destiny. Simba is the son of mighty King Mufasa. The happy childhood of the cub becomes tragic when King Mufasa is murdered by Scar, his wicked uncle, who later drives Simba from the kingdom. While in exile, Simba befriends Timon, the meerkat, and Pumbaa, the warthog, and together they live a stress-free jungle life. However, towards the onset of adulthood, his father’s spirit visits him with instructions on how to repossess his rightful throne and defeat the evil Scar.

Cultural appropriation is a situation that arises when stories and characters from one culture are taken by another culture and used in different contexts, either insultingly or ignorantly. In addition, those stories can also be retold in a manner that is likely to negate, ignore or lead to a reversal of the understanding of the story’s meaning. Debates concerning the effects of the media on viewers have been going on for decades. The debate ranges from the effect of the media acting as a kind of a hypodermic needle, whereby a direct change of values occurs upon media viewers, resulting from the messages and values presented by the media, to the minimal power possessed by the media in terms of influencing the viewing audience.

Apparently, the perverse nature of the media enables it to play a critical role in the lives of many viewers. For instance, the media are very influential in teaching young people most of the desired social norms. The Disney Company has faced rising scrutiny due to themes found in their movies. The purpose of this essay is to acquire an in-depth view of the gender and racial stereotypes embedded within the “The Lion King” movie. The extensive reach of the mass media to the general public affects people’s understandings and perceptions towards a variety of different issues (Hazell & Clarke 5). Consequently, media directs and provides the social and political understandings of the general populace, where the joint societal beliefs are determined and suggested by the media. Research to a great extent has proven that a critical role is played by the media in fostering racial and gender stereotypes (Gunter 9). The portrayal of gender and race in the film affects the viewers in that it offers a socialization impact on the behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes of the audience. Viewers’ ideas with regard to the considerations of acceptable gender traits and gender roles are affected. The film also serves as a race-linked and gender characteristics and knowledge acquisition source, as well as the development of racial and gender roles, self-efficacy beliefs, conduct, and self-evaluative standards.

Individuals adopt racial and gender characteristics through the monitoring of consequences and rewards connected with the portrayal of certain behaviors within the film. This creates the misguided belief that it is not acceptable for one to fall outside of gender representations and that if one belongs to a specific race category he/she is supposed to be on the inside of that particular racial representation.

Therefore, through stereotype creation by the mass media, as well as the depiction of impossible images, the audience is negatively affected when they fail to meet the film’s standards of what is natural and normal. This stereotypical portrayal of gender and race in the film results in the creation of a cycle, whereby stereotypical representations become the norm. For instance, the lineage of the kingdom is an appropriation of a society characterized by heterosexual white males who tend to dominate positions of power in government. Consequently, this cycle acts in favor of white masculinity as the most dominant and most preferable ideology. On the other hand, other races and females are viewed from an unfavorable perspective.

Moreover, the general public tends to internalize these representations. Evidently, the film is a powerful resource for identity development by viewers. It also enables them to come to terms with roles played by race and gender in the actual world. The film imparts racial and gender stereotypes through the portrayal of what is considered ideal societal roles for women and men. To start with, women are basically depicted as domestic, with their main focus being on personal and family relationships. Furthermore, they are portrayed as heavily dependent on males for financial and emotional support, while being less competent and highly emotional. On the contrary, men are depicted as holding outside home interests on top of being household heads.

A keen emphasis on fatherhood reveals it as being neither a non-biological nor constant matter. The difficult burden of parenthood challenges the men implying the problematic contributions of a man in child-rearing and also that the success of that child remains outside the domestic domain. These ideas clearly allude to the ideal gender roles that demonstrate first-class world patriarchy. 

Thus, a traditional representation of the appropriate female or male is created in the film. Past researches indicate that watching televised portrayals of gender does affect individuals’ real-world behaviors, gender-based attitudes, and beliefs. Patriarchal gender discrimination is created by representations of gender found within the film. For instance, femininity is portrayed whereby personal satisfaction and happiness are sourced from motherhood and marriage. A morality tale is typically created around the storylines revolving about the female characters, whereby transformation or punishment of the independent females occurs and the good female becomes the victor. The film creates an idea of an unhappy woman if she is independent and free.

Accordingly, a liberated female will deny herself motherhood and marriage, the two sources of true happiness for a woman. Thus, a power- and career-focused woman will be left to the condemnation of a loveless life. Moreover, the chance of having children is missed. The belief of happy women deriving their satisfaction from nurturing elicits a pre-feminist notion, whereby living as a spinster is considered the worst possible thing that can happen to a female. This theme became prevalent in melodramas leading to the suggestion that a woman is incomplete if she is alone. Unfortunately, these types of storylines in the film carry with their negative effects on the actions, beliefs, and attitudes of the entire populace regarding gender roles.

The presentation of motherhood as independence and happiness while a man’s absence as failure causes fear among women. This leads them to identify and accept traditional gender roles as the sole source of authentic personal happiness. However, the film also focuses on the idea of revolving a woman’s life about the heterosexual family. On a positive note, women are motivated to stick to the gender roles focusing on love. For instance, some storylines do not admit structuring problems revolving about gender roles. Instead, the movie depicts the finding of the right male heir as the possible and best solution of gender discrimination. This is so because of the implication of love as transcending above all gender stereotypes since it is unchanging, natural, and real, hence it gets rid of the imaginations of a world where women are treated badly by most men.

On the other hand, power is often used in the film to depict masculinity, whereby the male’s character value is determined by financial control and strength. Furthermore, conventional ideas pertaining to masculinity also constitute maleness. In addition, fornicating, fighting and drinking are mainly considered in masculinity characterization, whereby the most essential attributes are authority and physicality. Most prominent in the film is the ability of the male character to assert masculinity upon the females through self-establishment as protector of the weaker gender.

Consequently, the male wins dominance of the heterosexual relationship through the fulfillment of the primary role of being an active patriarch relating to the passive form of the females that are eventually saved and/or dominated by the same males. In general terms, the role of the male gender is focused on dominating women politically, in which case they are more self-determining, assertive and physical.

The creation of masculinity is usually through objectification and aggression of women, which is dangerous due to the construction of gender ideologies, as well as confirmation of the same ideologies as the natural order of doing things. In spite of the discussion of masculinity in the fatherhood context, it still highlights an understanding of the concept in terms of paternity. The depiction of fathers as caregivers usually presents them as undergoing some struggle, leading to the suggestion that naturally men are not adequately equipped in the raising of children.

Therefore, paternal responsibility is just merely the presence of a man in a child’s life, but not anything else. This is because an obsessive and constant presence overly constitutes a feminine way of interacting with the children. Concurrently, femininity and masculinity depiction in the film characterizes an antiquated representation of the kind of gender roles to be attached either to women or men. To a great extent, the definition of what is meant by being female or male acts as a reinforcement for stereotypes. Furthermore, this suggests to the audience that appropriate and/or proper methods of acting as a female or male do actually exist. Women are often depicted as subordinates, while men are vested with assertiveness and power as the best characteristics to always emulate. In the end analysis, gender roles for both women and men are presented as one-dimensional.

However, women are presented as using more narrow images implying that they are much less important and powerful as compared to men. Our gender-based beliefs and attitudes are affected by the messages we get from the film, and hence their expansion is not necessary for the lessening of stereotypes in the real world, as well as our ideologies of the ideal gender roles.

In another breadth, stereotypes use within the film also adversely affect our attitudes and beliefs regarding race. Racial differences arise from the presence of an appropriate scenario, whereby a skin color hierarchy is created in the film. The making of a hierarchy is a reflection of former American history values, in which case light-skinned people are depicted as being more culturally and socially acceptable than the dark-skinned. It is clear from the film that African-American women’s physical characteristics undergo filtration, so as to coincide with the prevalent beauty standards. Therefore, features out of line with this kind of hierarchy or not conforming to the ideal white beauty context are underrepresented in the movie. In addition, if at all they are made use of, most commonly they lead to the perpetuation of racial stereotypes.

Prevalent race relations are frequently reaffirmed in the film. As far as the performance of arts in the film is concerned, the race is a factor in terms of recognizing prominent society members in a particular field. Typically, white dancers are hired due to the misconception that dark-skinned people possess low art, and are thus, labeled as primitive. The presence of these labels in the film encourages the restrictive, derogatory, oppressive and condescending categorization of the minority races. Moreover, the performance of arts by these groups results in white culture re-appropriation. This tendency is a demonstration that for the minority races to have a way in the film, there must be identification and dissection of that particular cultural group by the white culture.


In conclusion, it is evident from the above disposition that culture and racism are largely used to enhance negative societal stereotypes. For instance, the use of racial imagery in the film is obvious, since Scar, the film’s villain, is notably darker compared to the rest of the lions in the pride. Scar’s alignment with Hyenas, usually considered Africa’s savage animals, acts as reinforcement for stereotypes revolving around Africans as characterized by their environment and behavior.

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