Written by Zach Goodrow
The Lion King is easily one of Disney’s best films. It kickstarted Disney’s revitalization in the 90’s, successfully portrayed “the Hero’s Journey” in a film about lions, and it scratched an existential itch we all have when we think about the “good vs. evil” war we fight day in and day out.
As time went on, however, many of my peers (and even some of their parents) who grew up on the film misconstrued the meaning and because of that they missed the point of the whole movie. Culture quickly claimed, marketed, and made T-shirts out of the catchy song “Hakuna Matata”. Because of this, many grew up thinking that the point of the movie was that we shouldn’t have worries for the rest of our days.
This problem free philosophy made its way, either through ignorance or through repetition, to the forefront of how we think about the movie.
‘Hakuna Matata’ is not the point of Lion King
But “Hakuna Matata” is not the point of Lion King. The opposite of no worries is the point.
Let’s remember the context in which our “lion king” was singing “Hakuna Matata”. He’s a lion who’s hanging out with a warthog and a meerkat. That’s not a real issue, or at least, that’s not the primary issue. The film points out that there should be at least some semblance of a symbiotic relationship between predator and prey (The great circle of life). Which is true. This is why it shouldn’t be concerning that a lion is hanging out with things that he should be eating.
The issue is that he is a lion who has forsaken what it means to be a lion.
The issue is that he is a lion who has forsaken what it means to be a lion. He let his goofy teenage friends convince him that a worry free life is the best life. This meant that Simba, who should’ve been hunting his food, was filling himself with bugs while his uncle had free rein to decimate the kingdom that was rightfully his. While Simba is singing about having a problem free existence, his mother is being abused by his uncle and the vile hyenas.
He also traded life without a suitable mate for a worry free life. Maybe this was fine for a meerkat, or an outcast warthog, but he was a king and he was squandering his royal bloodline to sit in a hot tub with pigs. Again, I’m not saying it was wrong of Simba to do this, but it was wrong for him to do only this.
So what was the point? Why write about “Hakuna Matata” as if it’s a bad thing? Because the point of the movie was that a lion should live as if he is a king, (because he is) and he should lead with strength and grace. And though there are only animals in the film, we can relate to the story because we see ourselves in the lions on the screens.
When asking where we, as Christians, fit into this story we need only to look at Simba’s transformation to see how we should act. After meeting a mate of equal power and nobility, his farting friends were no longer enough, so he took a journey in the wilderness. The climax of the journey consists of Simba seeing his father who then tells him to remember who he is and what he should be doing.
We are the lions mirrored so artfully on the screen and we need to remember who we are.
In other words, or in case the allegory hasn’t landed yet, we are the lions mirrored so artfully on the screen and we need to remember who we are. Our Father has called us to a life of courage, not of fear. The earth is our inheritance that was blood-bought by our Father, who, when it comes to good kings, puts Mufasa to shame.
We are not to squander our kingdom or abuse its people, but we are to lead with fairness, grace, and strength. We shouldn’t waste our royal dignity slumming with things beneath us. Lions should not, in case it wasn’t clear, eat bugs after all. They were meant for a better diet. Christians, likewise, should bring their hog like friends into the kingdom through grace and truth because our hog friends are not actually hogs. They are lions who have fallen into the nature of hogs.
No worries for all of life leads to ruined kingdoms. But I guess it’s hard to make a song out of that and put it on a shirt. However, that is the point of the movie. Our Father is the good and better Mufasa, the good and better king. So let us act like the royalty we are. He is a strong king, after all. And there will be a day when Scar is evicted from the kingdom, but until that day of Hakuna Matata comes, let us remember who we are.
Photo and characters are the product of Walt Disney Studios.