Racism Case

Published: 2021-09-13 18:20:09
essay essay

Category: Music and Movies

Type of paper: Essay

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Cartoons provide children with models of socialization within society. The entertainment displayed through cartoons show children juvenile and fantasized versions of adult situations to aid in their socialization into society. Cartoons provide children with a lens into the adult world through the eyes of a child. Walt Disney Pictures ("Disney") has become a billion dollar corporation through providing entertainment to children around the world. The lenses provide children with situations of independence, betrayal, friendship, and love. Often, cartoons also provide children with more complex situations of sexism, classism, racism, and prejudice. Disney's "The Lion King" is a movie that provides children with circumstances of classism and enforces racial stereotypes. This essay will examine "The Lion King" through a racial lens.
In 1996, Disney released "The Lion King", an animated film set in an African prairie with animals acting as characters. The movie begins with the celebration of the birth of Simba, a male lion cub. All of the animals in the prairie, regardless of their status as predator or prey, attend the presentation and celebration of the lion cub. The animals honor the cub in unison through differing animalistic actions. The next scene shows Simba with his father, Mufasa, looking over the prairie from a cliff. Mufasa tells his son that he is the heir to everything that the sun touches with the exception of the shadowed area. He instructs his son to never venture to that place because it is dangerous. Mufasa's brother, Scar, overhears the conversation and later tells Simba that the shadowy place is actually an elephant graveyard using language to pique the cub's interest. Simba decides to travel to the graveyard with his friend Nala. When Simba and Nala travel to the elephant graveyard, they encounter the hyenas in their environment.
Racial implications of the hyenas are expressed through their vernacular. The vernacular of the hyenas sharply contrasts from that of the other characters in the film. With the exception of Scar, who speaks with a British accent, the hyenas are the only characters in the film who do not speak standard English. According to Rosina Lippi-Green's English with an Accent: Language, Ideology and Discrimination in the United States, institutions in the US function to "subordinate ethnic groups through language". She defines institutions as "any organization which has social and structural importance in the life of a community or society" (Lippi-Green 1997:77). Disney acts as an institution in the lives of children because the corporation's main function is to provide entertainment to children. Lippi-Green wrote that standardized English is based upon the language patterns of upper-class Caucasians and any change from the "standard" speaking pattern shows that the person speaking does not belong to the mainstream group (64-5).

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