Friday Family Movie Night usually goes off just fine but our Girl wanted to have no part of How to Train Your Dragon. Disney+ holds a wealth of films, many I truly enjoyed as a kid 1. So we clicked over to the Lion King, the 1994 animated version rather than the creepy, digitally animatronic “live action” version.
Like most middle-aged women, I’m partial to Timon and Pumbaa.
I’m sure I’d be a “republican” if I was otherwise a subject of the Crown. In art as in life, no woman is an island; no person is imbued by an unseen force with the magical power to “Save Us All.” At least in theory, our leaders earn their role, they work toward it, we choose them. Leaders are not marked by the noodle-y appendage of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or a clutch of old men in flowing robes.2
Simba is King because he is the son of the King. When Scar killed Mufasa and Simba Fled, Scar became king. All lions bowed to him.
Simba spent his days lounging with Timon and Pumbaa. They are, as explained in the catchy song, lazy and carefree. What lessons they taught Simba so he could actually lead a people King, we don’t know. We know he grew up, grew a mane, grew powerful. We only know that he was still Mufasa’s son.
The other Lions in the pride – seemingly only female lions – waited for a hero to show himself. When Simba arrived, and roared, everyone cowered. Holy shit! He was King. The power was in him all along! He was the Chosen One who could Save them All!
Leaders learn their craft. And whether they admit it or not, leaders can lead because they work with people who want them to be successful. Leaders tell their “people” a story that they want to hear, about who they want to be. For some that comes naturally. For most it’s a skill that leaders need to develop and nurture.
This story, like too many movies, like nearly all Disney movies, waves that way. Leaders just are!, it says, while waving away all the learning and hard work and coalition building good, successful leaders need to do. It erases the lives and labor of those many who work to make leaders good successful.
Lion King: Keep the songs, lose the film.