Posts Tagged ‘Thoughts’

Talking Kings and Successions

August 12, 2019

Lately, I have been thinking about the Lion King a lot. It is not because of the recently released full CGI version in theaters right now. People are all up in arms about it but I will eventually see it and form my own opinion. Actually, I have been thinking about the original Lion King movie because the music is in regular rotation on my Pandora account. Well, really, it is just two songs. I had the cassette of the soundtrack when I was a kid. The movie came out when I was about ten years old. I played that cassette until it wore out.

The song I listened to the most was “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King”. It is by far the most uptempo, fun song musically in the whole movie. The other song I listen to a lot now that I’m older is “Be Prepared”. I’ve felt that I love the villain songs more and more as I have gotten older. I still love both songs but recently I have realized they are kind of the same song from different angles. I will warn you that this post is now going to get a little political but not really specific to our current climate. Although, you can draw your own conclusions. Also, Lion King spoilers.

“I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” is a song sung by young Simba as he plays with Nala. He sings the song mostly as a way to distract his chaperone, Zazu, the King’s advisor so that he and Nala can sneak away to explore the Elephant Graveyard. Zazu and the King have forbidden he go there but he cannot help himself. He sings about how excited he is to become King (leaving out the part where his father needs to die in order for that to happen). He thinks about how he won’t be pushed around anymore when he is in charge. He will be free from responsibility now that nobody will be in charge of him.

This is the short-sighted thinking similar to your average political candidate. Someone who is excited to have the glory of a leadership position but does not think of the burdens. I think this is obvious to most viewers. Simba has no plan on how he will rule as the only monarch in a large area of Africa. He is thinking of freedom and legacy and glory and no responsibility. Zazu and his father continuously try to rein him in. The King’s subjects join in the song but mainly because of fun and because when the prince sings, you join in.

“Be Prepared” is a song sung by Scar, the King’s brother and Simba’s uncle. He is the villain of the movie, heavily inspired by Claudius in Hamlet. The song is a literal command to his secret hyena army. He is telling them of his plan of regicide and succession. As soon as the King is dead, the hyenas need to be ready to protect Scar’s claim to the throne. Scar knows how people think about him and needs the extra muscle to support his new regime.

It is clear that Scar also has no clear plans on ruling the Pridelands. I mean, he certainly has sinister plans but no plans on how to rule efficiently. It is clear that he does not want to burn everything down (even though that is how it ends up). He wants fawning subjects and glory. He wants the easy life of luxury that only a successful monarch gets. When we find him later in the story after he has gotten what he wanted, he has screwed it up and has already descended into madness.

The thing is, at the time that both songs take place, neither Simba or Scar would have made good leaders. Obviously, Mufasa was a great leader and everybody was weirdly happy with his bloody rule as a predator over the Pridelands. However, Mufasa was not an option anymore as Scar and the hyenas had to go and kill him. If Simba stayed in the Pridelands and had been tapped to become King, he would have been out of his depth even with the help of his mother, Zazu, and Rafiki. This was actually explored in Kingdom Hearts 2 showing the events soon after the end of the movie where Simba has a crisis of confidence because he does not have the wisdom to lead. So neither choice was especially good and this is why rulers should not be murdered. As if Julius Caesar had not already taught us that.

Would You Eat At This Restaurant?

December 8, 2018

My folks live out in Shepherdstown, West Virginia and that area is very different from the city I grew up in. I was raised in Baltimore which has an inordinate percentage of black people living in it so I grew up thinking nothing of being among people of different races. It is why my theory is that exposure to other people and other cultures makes it easier to leech racism out of the population. Still, my family is originally from further south and we still bristle at the sight of a Confederate flag. In my mind, the Confederate flag means racism. People often talk about “history” and “state’s rights” but when my mom was growing up, the people who sported those flags hated black people and were to be avoided. So, it was with some surprise that I was informed locally that this tavern had some of the best burgers around. My first thought was to avoid the place but as Clerks 2 attempted to say “you can’t taste racism”. I guess it only leaves a figurative bad taste in my mouth.

I have been struggling with these thoughts lately. Not this restaurant in particular, as there are many others even in that area of Western Maryland. When do I continue to consume something that I find objectionable or comes from a tainted source? For example, I think most would agree that Kevin Spacey is a great actor but (allegedly) he is a sexual predator. As soon as I heard, I stopped watching House of Cards. I no longer listen to Michael Jackson music because of his pedophilic past. I do not count myself worse off for either of those things. However, what do I do when something truly fantastic is produced by horrible people? Also, where is my line? When do I choose to give up somebody and move on from them forever?

Pedophilia is definitely over the line for me. Harming children is something I will not and cannot stand for. Readers of this blog will know that I am a huge fan of Halloween and I watch a lot of horror movies each year. You would think that most people who create these movies have disturbed minds but most of them are just fun, creative people. However, two huge classic movies that I have never seen are Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby. The second one is often lauded as one of the very best psychological horror movies in history. Repulsion is a more obscure horror movie that makes it on a lot of best of horror lists. Both are directed by Roman Polanski, a man who has been wanted by authorities for statutory rape since before I was born. I will not honor his name by watching and reporting on his movies. I believe that such men deserve to be forgotten.

General sexual abusers definitely trouble me. I was sick to my stomach when I watched and blogged about Bright before finding out that writer Max Landis was a serial abuser. I had already watched several of his movies but I had been eyeing Chronicle as a rare found footage movie I might enjoy. Now, I will probably never watch it. I get a bad feeling when I see how many of the movies in my collection come from The Weinstein Company, knowing what a horrible man he was. However, I comfort myself by remembering that he was not directly involved in their making and should not profit off of them. There are many I do not mourn no longer being able to watch but some really hurt to get rid of. Bill Cosby was somebody I listened to endlessly, laughing at his take on urban childhood. However, now he is erased from my life. I was a big fan of Chris Hardwick until I found out how abusive and manipulative he is.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that people can change and some transgressions are forgivable with time and penance. When somebody dug up writer/director James Gunn’s tweets from ten years ago that included dark “rape humor”, I was hurt. However, I also recognized that this came from a young troublemaker who wanted to shock the system. He has since grown out of this and has produced mature, heartwarming movies since. Even his own brother admitted that Gunn was an asshole in the past but that he had grown out of that and had repented. Now, they are doing the same thing to Kevin Hart who made a lot of questionable jokes years ago but has since been on his best behavior. Neither of these two is somebody that I would abandon.

I think Sarah Silverman put it well when she discussed the issue in light of Louis CK being accused. She talked about removing problematic people from your life as “cutting out tumors”. Those people did horrible things but hid in plain sight. They endeared themselves to us, worming their way into our good graces and then their rotten natures were revealed. Their pop culture contributions became a part of me so now I have to cut pieces from myself. Their crimes deny me of something I once enjoyed freely and that just makes it hurt worse. For the sake of their victims and for the sake of my sense self-worth I cannot deal with them anymore. It is a difficult process deciding who stays and who goes, though.

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