It has been a crazy busy few weeks. There’s been work and me participating in NaNoWriMo. Of course…there’s been everything else going on in the world especially in America.
Relax, I won’t be talking about anything partisan let alone anything political in this post. I can hear the collective sigh of relief no matter if one is to the left, right, center, independent, or apolitical. With that said, I still have been thinking about serious things nonetheless.
In addition to work and writing another book, I have been having thoughts of so many things going on in my life.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been bullied in my life and at times it was quite severe. In hindsight, some of it was very low-key that psychologically affected me. When I would fight back, I would be treated like the bad guy even though I wasn’t being physical against anyone or insulting them. It made me wonder how docile I was while abusive people get away with everything even when I would call them out on their crap. It’s no wonder I can’t stand those who hurt others with impunity as well as never owning up to their misdeeds. I’ve had to own up to my mistakes and sins, so why couldn’t they? It’s like I’ve been getting bad advice for years from people who should know better. Part of me wondered if I should’ve improved in snappy comebacks or insulting people because I’ve always struggled in that regard. It’s sick how I felt like I wasn’t “allowed” to stand up for myself.
There are times where I wonder if it was worth having certain kinds of dreams and goals. I’m sure I mentioned this in a post earlier this year about random goals I used to have like owning a record label, voice acting, or being a touring musician, etc. I guess with COVID, in a weird way, I’m relieved that i didn’t go forward with those pipe dreams. My goals have changed like getting more into writing as well as videography. I have those skills and it allows me to put them to use. There are other ideas for goals that could be more constructive, but I wondered how possible they would be.
The last movie I saw was a documentary about the Congolese Genocide and Leopold II. It was so heartbreaking and it was one of those historical aspects I wish I learned when I was a lot younger regardless of my DNA results. I learned more things and I certainly was uncomfortable with the brutality. It angers me how Leopold never got punished for being responsible for several millions of people dying under his colonizing rule. It was a powerful watch and I think more people should learn about this atrocity.
Those were various thoughts I had recently. I just had to talk about it instead of just a poem or opinions on a news story. Sorry it wasn’t fun. I hope you understand.
I’m sure some of you have been aware about various statues of racist devils being taken down recently due to the protests. You have the Edward Colston statue getting “swimming lessons” in Bristol, England and you have Confederate statues taken down across the South. I wondered if Belgium was going to step up to get rid of one of the biggest genocidal maniacs you weren’t taught about in school.
Special thanks to Petrel41 for telling me about this!
I’ve mentioned King Leopold II in a few past articles, but this information bears repeating. For those of you that don’t know, he was the king of Belgium since the late 19th century. Him and other European heads of state participated in the Scramble for Africa starting with the Berlin Conference. His piece of the colonization pie was getting a part of the Kingdom of Kongo in a landmass that would become the Belgian Congo or by it’s modern name of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Even after the annexation, that country is still far larger than Belgium from both a landmass and population standpoint. When Leopold got control of that part of Africa, he turned the entire country into his personal slave plantation since it’s still a resource-rich nation even to this day. The biggest things were oil, rubber, and gold to name a few. Leopold and his brutal regime forced the Congolese to take these insane quotas for the resources and if they didn’t meet said quotas, they would get their hands chopped off. You know those chocolate hands they sell in Belgium? That’s where the inspiration came from. Cannibalistic implications much, Leopold? He did wicked things like shooting the Congolese on site and starved them out away from their communities AKA The Elephant Graveyard Treatment much like what the 2nd Reich did to the Namibians in the 1900s or the Native Americans dealing with the Trail of Tears after being abused by the colonizers. This had a result of killing over 15 million Congolese people during his reign! At that time over a century ago, this was HALF the country’s population. To give you more context, that’s over the same amount of people living in the nation’s capital of Kinshasa (also the 3rd most populated city in Africa, by the way) and Chicago COMBINED! Most people know about Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, and Joseph Stalin which people should still be taught about for their atrocities, but Leopold always slips through the cracks of history classes. I didn’t even know who he was until after I graduated college which is sad. Even more angering in hindsight to me is that I have Congolese heritage…Leopold could’ve abused and/or killed MY ancestors that I may not have known about! His punishment for what he did was relinquishing control of the Congo. Oh, cry me a river.
Hopefully that brief history lesson should suffice to my readers. Leopold makes Colston look like an alter boy by comparison. I’m so happy that they took the statues down that glorify racist demons like that tyrant. Major props to the Congolese-Belgians who were hardcore protesting about that situation. I also hope this leads to Belgium paying up those reparations for that genocide against that Central African nation. It’s been a long time coming.
Leopold azali zabolo! Nzambe yaka Osunga Kongo! Mosembo na boboto ekolonga!
[Warning: This post contains a very contrary opinion to most people and will contain controversial content. Read at your own peril]
EDIT (2022): This rant post was written prior to me watching The Lion’s Share which is the documentary involving the Mbube/The Lion Sleeps Tonight plagiarism case, the Petite Noir/Beyonce music video controversy, or finding out about disturbing parts of Matthew Broderick or Rob Lowe’s pasts that they got free passes for. It seems like this rant has been getting a considerable amount of attention for some odd reason over the past few months (I have my theories why though). I wouldn’t be surprised if people are angry at my observations as they defend this work. Anyways, I’m more offended about other aspects of The Lion King than the Kimba controversy like the Hakuna Matata trademark, the depiction of the hyenas, Mufasa’s protagonist-centered morality, and the aforementioned Mbube case for example. If I can go off-tangent for a bit…Ringing Bell is the best-animated movie involving a parent getting murdered by an animal with dark brown fur and a wounded left eye. Just saying.
I’m sure some of you are probably sick of me at this point bashing this Disney movie if you’ve read earlier posts on this blog or saw certain reviews on Iridium Eye. I’m not sorry for what I’m about to say on here. This frustration has been building up for the past couple of weeks and it’s something I need to vent about on this blog of all things regardless if people agree with this post or not.
[sigh] Here we go.
For starters, I didn’t always hate The Lion King. If anything, it used to be one of my favorite Disney movies when I was a kid. This is going to partially give away my age, but I saw that movie during it’s first theatrical run when I was very little. I even saw the stage adaptation in Chicago at the Cadillac Theatre when I was a bit older. One of my favorite soundtracks back then was the “Rhythm of the Pride Lands” which was the companion soundtrack and it was also the first time the song “He Lives In You” was used. Not Lion King II or the Broadway version. I saw the original VHS tape probably a hundred times during my childhood. I used to know the words to most of the songs way back when. However, I stopped paying attention to Disney during my teenage years because I was really into anime. Okay, I still like Japanese animation, but I was nowhere near as much of an otaku as I was when I was in high school.
It was also around this time when I first heard about Kimba the White Lion. I heard that The Lion King ripped it off, but I thought it was shallow with just the main characters. Flash forward to my adult life when I saw a Cracked article involving childhood icons you didn’t know were shameless rip-offs, and the memories came back again. This piqued my interest, did more research and started to rent the DVDs on Netflix after Kimba stopped airing on Hulu (Disney is a partial owner of that site, so I don’t know if it was because of them or not). While it has it’s issues and has aged animation since it was made in the 60s, I enjoyed that anime for it’s usage of subject matter, originality, and seeing obvious facets that Disney stole from it. If you don’t believe me, check out this link. I couldn’t believe the scenes of Caesar (AKA Original Mufasa) consoling Kimba from the beyond in the night sky. I couldn’t believe the scene where the villainess Belladonna tried to kill Kimba by pushing him off a cliff. I couldn’t believe one of the major villains (Claw) just happened to be a scarred lion usurper with a black mane, dark fur, and had hyena henchmen with him. Every character not named Timon and Pumbaa in that movie is a copy of someone from Tezuka’s manga/anime series. Seriously, shame on Disney for stealing from this classic anime and for trying to block the Jungle Emperor Leo ’97 movie from North America. Trust me, you won’t be looking at The Lion King the same way again once you see the obvious similarities. I can’t see how any sane person could watch Kimba and not think that no one from Disney saw this. Why does The Lion King get a free pass in plagiarism when other media like Yuki Yuna is a Hero gets lambasted for having similarities to Madoka? You know if the situation was reversed, then all you Lion King fans would scream bloody murder that your favorite movie got plagiarized by a foreign (majority non-White) country if Kimba came afterwards. It would be amazing if Disney admitting to stealing from Tezuka’s creation, paid royalties to them, or got epic backlash for their thievery, but I know that will never happen because wishes never come true.
This segues into my next point. I wasn’t aware of this as a child, but growing up, I realized how racist the implications were with the hyenas. Have you not listened to how they talk? They straight-up talk in stereotypical African-American Ebonics (Shenzi) and an exaggerated Mexican accent (Banzai). What ticks me off is when Disney fans don’t call their depiction racist or handwave it because you have Black cast members voicing some of the heroic lions namely James Earl Jones playing Mufasa. No, just because you have Black people playing both sides of the good/evil paradigm, it doesn’t make it bigotry-free (this also applies to the remake). It’s the equivalent of a racist claiming they have a Black best friend or family members to prove they aren’t racist. That or saying slave owners can’t be racist because they have Black people around them. Let’s not forget Disney has a history with using animal characters as POC proxies with racist undertones. Look at the crows in Dumbo and the lead one’s name was JIM! You know, like the same laws in America that involved having enforced segregation, lynchings, or it being legal for White people to rape African-Americans? There’s also Siamese cats talking in broken English in Lady and the Tramp, Aristocats, and even an episode of Chip & Dale: Rescue Rangers for crying out loud. You could even throw in Tito from Oliver & Company as a slap against the Latino community. Coincidentally enough, Cheech Marin would voice both Tito and Banzai in his voice acting career. Is this why so many Americans falsely assume that Black people let alone other ethnic groups act like the hyenas all the time? If you think so, then you need your head examined and we should question if you’re a bigot.
Extending onto that point is how the hyenas were treated with the Elephant Graveyard. Besides the name being a blatant carbon copy of the place in Kimba where the animals had to rescue Roger Ranger in one of the later episodes, I found the place to be disturbing, but not for the same reasons as it was portrayed in the movie. As an adult, I had this realization that this punishment against those animals involved isolating the hyenas in a barren wasteland and they’re forced to starve. It hit me when I researched lesser-known aspects of history: Mufasa was committing genocide against them and I was sickened by it. Scar did bad things, but his big brother is not much better if you really think about it; he’s just applauded for his actions. If you think I’m being crazy, then maybe you should read up on the Congolese Genocide under King Leopold II or the Namibian Genocide by Germany’s 2nd Reich. The former had a body count of 10 MILLION Congolese and Leopold never got punished for it. If you take away the hand-chopping, guns, and mass rape, then it would be the same thing. The latter had a concentration camp called Shark Island where the Germans starved out the Herero and Nama tribes and there was a valley of bones left behind. By the way, one of the perpetrators was General Franz Ritter von Epp who would eventually employ Adolf Hitler and Hitler said he was influenced by this general. LET THAT SINK IN! It’s as if the animators were aroused by putting anti-Black racism with that act as they believe melanated people don’t belong in their circle of life. Come on, if those hyenas talked in Yiddish accents instead of stereotypical Black and Latino accents, then the ADL would’ve thrashed Mickey Mouse in a heartbeat and everybody knows this. But because it’s happening to the bad guys and because they talk in a racially-coded way, it’s somehow justified in the animators’ and fans’ eyes. No, that’s protagonist centered morality on Mufasa’s part (saying nothing how that punishment contradicts his circle of life speech), and it’s propaganda in a form of G-rated White Supremacy. In my adulthood, I’ve seriously pondered if White people actually saw me as one of those hyenas in the past before. I’ve been discriminated against, so I wouldn’t put it past them. It’s hard to watch that knowing about the genocides against Black people, the 1994 crime bill which overloaded the prison-industrial complex (while being soft on Caucasian offenders, let’s be honest), Apartheid South Africa, and gentrification to name a few things to punish them. Do you enjoy Black people or any other POC group getting punished or afflicted at all costs and is The Lion King your film of choice of vicariously having that joy in a supposedly “innocent” way? Are you more offended by me pointing out the racist implications of this Disney movie than the millions of dead bodies from those aforementioned genocides let alone other atrocities?
Let’s also talk about the depiction of Africa. There are no humans in it! Was there some extinction of Africans before the beginning of the story? Disney sucks at this fact and Tarzan is another example of this when that continent is shown without Black people. So people who look like me and darker shouldn’t be seen? Is this a wish-fulfillment about depopulating Africa in animated form? Think about it. They wouldn’t try it with Europe or America. Even if they do have furry characters (don’t lie. furries love The Lion King and you all know this. Also, how come that movie doesn’t get called a furry film with all the anthropomorphic stuff in it?), they make them upright, clothed and human-like in attitude like Zootopia or DuckTales for example. Are they insinuating that Africa should just be one giant savanna or natural utopia without the humans who would live in that part of the world? If not, then they’ll show it as one big piece of poverty porn and/or a giant war zone. It’s as if the animals are treated with dignity if something happens to them than the humans who live there. Cecil the lion? I rest my case. Screw stereotypes. Those furries and their sick fantasies can go away. Also, I’m aware of the issues of the original Kimba manga and some of the other iterations which I wasn’t a fan of (that’s an understatement), but at least Tezuka Productions owned up to it and improved with the later iterations. All these Disney fans are hypocrites for turning a blind eye to the depiction of Africa and the hyena characterizations.
Those are some of my main points that have angered me. Disney needs a moral overhaul. Was it enough to steal from a 60s Japanese anime and from millions of Swahili-speaking Africans by trademarking “Hakuna Matata”? I could go on about the plot holes such as the Nala incest theory, how much that movie ripped off Kimba, how heredity monarchy is not always a good thing, how that movie isn’t that deep/meaningful, or how The Lion King or it’s fanbase avoids being called furries when other movies get labeled as such, but I think you get the point. Even I’ve had enough from defenders of this movie franchise and for people trying to shame me for not liking that film, let alone bullying me for my ethnic background or even what media I like. You’re only proving me right that way. It sickens me how there’s that remake coming out (it’s not live-action, people. it’s just realistic looking CGI) and for people making fun of me for not liking it anymore. You all have no right to moralize to me especially with all the things that have happened in American history let alone what happened to the African diaspora. I’m not saying you’re automatically evil if you’re White since that would be very stupid of me to insinuate that of one’s skin color. Spare me from your attempts of putting words in my mouth or for strawmanning my arguments. What I am saying is that you shouldn’t take movies at face value and assume everything is innocent just because it’s family-friendly from a content standpoint. For one, I’ve become offended the more I’ve learned about history, part of my culture, and with storytelling techniques. I’m sick and tired of being a scapegoat because of the color of my skin and my heritage. I would never even imagine doing the things done to my ancestors to anyone regardless of race. Not everyone is going to like what I typed, nor am I begging people to like it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to listen to real artists from the continent instead of that artificial crap from Hans Zimmer and Elton John.
All images and videos are property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws.
The fan art is property of WhiteLionWarrior at DeviantArt.
Kimba is property of Kimba the White Lion and Tezuka Productions.
As soon as I saw this video from Dr. Mumbi drop, I really really had to talk about it.
Some of you might remember me talking about the sins committed by Belgium to the Democratic Republic of Congo not too long ago. This issue is mentioned again although there was something I legitimately didn’t know about the colonial atrocities. Belgium is saying sorry because that country STOLE biracial Congolese/Belgium babies from the DRC (then known as the Belgian Congo), separated them from their parents, and subjected them in horrific conditions. Not only that, these Belgian poor excuses of fathers who impregnated the Congolese women backed off and didn’t want to be in their children’s lives. Come on, if the races were reversed, Bill O’Reilly would scream “Where are the fathers?!”. So these kids had to grow up bouncing around from orphanage or foster home while their baby daddies didn’t want to own up to what they did (although I really doubt all of those so-called fathers had consensual relationships with the moms given historical patterns).
This was new information for me, but I wasn’t shocked at all. This only made me angrier about everything that happened to the DRC. That country lived through that genocidal maniac King Leopold II who took over the Congo which is 5 times the size of his own home country and his people slaughtered 10 MILLION people and never got punished. Leopold and his regime shot, raped, maimed, and starved out millions and no historical institution is ever calling this a genocide. One form of punishment that he did was to chop off Congolese hands if they were disobedient or couldn’t make quotas for the natural resources. You see that picture in the thumbnail with the chocolate hands? That’s how they got the idea for that demonic dessert and it’s still sold in Belgium to this day! Seriously, Belgium needs to pay big reparations for all the atrocities they committed against the Congolese.
Before any of you say that the people of the DRC should “just move on” or “forgive”, let me ask you something. Are you going to say the same thing to the families of those related to the Holocaust victims/survivors? Are you going to say the same thing to the 9/11 families? If you’re not going to say those things to the families of those afflicted by those tragedies, then you’re a freaking racist hypocrite.
This is a video I saw a few days ago, but I thought it would be good to share it on here with this blog.
What an interesting turn of events to say the least.
The UN is telling off Belgium to apologize and to pay reparations to the Democratic Republic of Congo. For those of you wondering why the DRC in particular, let me give you a breakdown of what happened. Belgium wanted to be a part of the Scramble for Africa and they managed to colonize what would be the DRC under the reign of King Leopold II. To the Belgians, he was known as “the builder king” as he did so many architecture projects in his home country and many of them are still up to this day. To the Congolese (or anyone with a shred of humanity), Leopold was a genocidal maniac. Him and his forces exploited the country for their natural resources, chopped off hands from those who disobeyed him, starved out and annexed several people like his own personal elephant graveyard where the Africans didn’t belong in his circle of life (I know that comparison was mentioned in an earlier article, but it bears repeating), and killed 10 million Congolese during his reign. Not to mention HE NEVER GOT PUNISHED FOR HIS ACTIONS! Can someone please explain to me why he’s never mentioned in the same sphere of infamy as Hitler, Pol Pot, or Stalin? Seriously, I never learned about this when I was in school.
A little side note about the middle of the video…that was the most satanic thing I have ever seen in my life. A guy dressed up in blackface while pretending to cry as a chocolate cake molded like a pregnant Black woman gets sliced by some attendees at a gala? How sick can you get? Shame on all of those people who did that.
Back to this story at hand, I do hope justice can be done. The DRC was exploited for far too long and I hope that their plight will be taken seriously.
I know this is an older story, but I just have to talk about it.
I apologize if this issue is getting old especially for those in the aniblogger community, but holy crap…did Disney have to steal something else especially in regards to The Lion King? Ripping off Kimba the White Lion wasn’t enough for them?
Basically, Disney owns a trademark for the words “Hakuna Matata” which is stupid on so many levels for a common phrase in the Swahili-speaking community in Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, DRC, Uganda, etc.). I also didn’t know that there was a popular song in the 70s that used the phrase in it’s chorus.
Sure, some of you are rolling your eyes to me bashing Disney since I am a former fan of The Lion King. Besides the shameless stealing of Kimba, I couldn’t stand some of the plot holes, the protagonist centered morality of Mufasa, and the racist implications of the hyenas (come on, you don’t think they sounded like ethnic stereotypes?). Not to mention the whole Elephant Graveyard situation is much more disturbing in hindsight when you research things like the Congolese genocide, the Namibian genocide, or the genocides against Native Americans to name a few where people where exiled and starved out at punishment. Makes me wonder if Disney fans see the hyenas as proxies for Black people to be punished at all costs while claiming that company isn’t racist for hiring minorities as some rhetorical dodge for it not being racist (strawman defeated). Please, that’s like saying the porn industry can’t be sexist because they hire women.
The thing isn’t just about trademarking a common Swahili phrase or for me ragging on Disney for their business practices. The bigger picture is cultural appropriation. One other example that Dr. Mumbi gave in the video was Louis Vuitton capitalizing on traditional Masai cloth by giving it the luxury treatment which is idiotic and offensive to me. Culture isn’t some free for all object for people to steal. I would bet you money if someone were to steal stuff from Louis Vuitton or any other big company, then lawsuits would be handed like candy on Halloween. Screw that double standard. If you want to incorporate something like someone’s culture then do it respectfully and pay the price for it.