Category Archives: Broadway and Politics

The Lion King: An Allegory

The Lion King (musical)Image via Wikipedia
This weekend I went to see The Lion King which is staging performances here for about one month. Any Broadway road show I have seen here in town has been wonderful even though I have not always had the best seats. I had very good seats for The Lion King except for the giant man head in front of me, the giant man head which I swear was swigging from a beer that he had carried into the theater with him, hidden in his wife’s handbag or a backpack or something. Anyway, although I had to keep swaying to the right and left to see around him I really was centered very nicely in relation to the action on stage. This is a very clever production. I’m sure you’ve all see the creative costumes which turn people into giraffes, lions, hyenas, elephants, wildebeests, meerkats, and warthogs. Even the grass is wonderful, the trees, the stars, the jungle plants. I believe the Broadway version of The Lion King won prizes for costumes and sets. The colors of the costumes were gorgeous, especially when the chorus came out in those blazing long full robes. The singing was powerful and uplifting and the dancing made you wish that you knew a few of those moves and could join in. The show was filled with exuberant dances. One of the children we went with was a young teen. His favorite thing was the sun and it was an excellent sun, which artists gave that shimmery look that the sun has in very hot, dry places. How did they do that?
But as the dedicated blogger that I have become I found myself turning The Lion King into a political allegory, which in a way it is. There is royalty, good and bad leadership, courage and cowardice, overweening ambition and royal succession. The play talks (or sings) about a leader’s responsibility to his/her people, but also about the ruler’s involvement with the people. In this case the lions are the family of the leader, the other animals and the natural resources are the community in which the family either thrives or dies. Simba’s father, a good ruler, nurtures his entire community because he realizes everything is interrelated. Scar, the bad ruler, cares only for his own immediate comfort. He abuses the community around him, uses up its precious resources. He allows the hyenas and lions to overhunt their homeland and drive it to the edge of extinction. Fortunately Simba leaves his adventurous adolescence behind and exiles Scar and the hyenas. He restores a sensible approach to husbanding their environment and the pride thrives once more.
I can’t help myself. I started to see Mufasa and Simba as Democrats who strive to lead our country to a reasonable and balanced approach to caring for the human community and the resources of our part of the planet. And, conversely, (of course) I saw Scar as the Republicans, who seem to have lost sight of the fact that we are a human community; who don’t seem to understand that if they overlook the needs of the poorest members of their “pride” and mindlessly squander the resources of our little biosphere there will be negative consequences for everyone. It is in the nature of humans to draw parallels between the various experiences we are mulling over in these busy brains of ours. So although you may be judging me and thinking I have gone off the deep end, creating allegories is not really crazy behavior. There are allegories written in every age, and although allegories may have a tendency to oversimplify things, they are sometimes helpful in making the basic outlines of a situation really clear.   
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