It’s been a while since I talked about news around the world, but I saw this video which ticked me off so much that I just have to talk bout it.
There’s a British company called Timbuktu who had the temerity to trademark the word “Yoruba”. For those who don’t know any thing about that word, it refers to an actual African ethnic group and language associated with Nigeria, Benin, and Togo although Nigeria has a huge Yoruba population. Some famous people of that ethnicity involve actor John Boyega, basketball player Hakeem Olajuwon, and rapper Wale to name a few. The Nigerian community got infuriated by this trademark controversy and rightfully so. They were raising awareness to this issue. Also, am I the only one who noticed that this company is named after the famous Malian city?
This is just blatant cultural appropriation and I hope Timbuktu gets enough pressure to drop the trademark. I never bought anything from them and I hope there’s a giant boycott against them for what they did. What’s up with these companies trademarking African things? You have this recent case, Louis Vuitton making “luxury” Maasai cloths, and (I will not stop repeating this example because this company deserves the smoke) Disney freaking trademarking the phrase “Hakuna Matata”! These corporations need to stop doing this and I hope people stop buying their things. Think about it, they trademarked the name of an ethnic group consisting of millions of people around the world and not just in Western Africa. How would people react if Timbuktu or any company trademarked the name(s) of another ethnic group such as Irish Travelers, Sicilians, or Ashkenazim? I’m sure there would be even more outrage if anyone dared to do so. Nobody should be turning ethnicities into intellectual property.
The fact that people tell me that cultural appropriation isn’t bad or doesn’t exist is just idiotic because they never had to deal with their heritage being slighted in the least.
I wish I wasn’t physically sick today. Over the past few days, I’ve been hearing stories and I just get emotionally sick hearing about these. This world is too cruel and bigoted for it’s own good. I couldn’t just have 3 different posts going on.
1: The mass shootings in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH
This should be quite obvious since this was big news over the weekend. I wasn’t shocked at what happened. So many people died in two different shootings in El Paso and Dayton by Patrick Crusius and Connor Betts respectively. It’s not surprising at all with who the suspects were and I’m frustrated by how well they treated. When I saw the video of Patrick Crusius being arrested, he was taken alive (OF COURSE!) by only 1 single cop. Apparently he wasn’t in fear of his live for someone who gunned down over 20 people and people have been treated worse for less nationwide let alone in Texas. Oh, I’ll get to that reason why I namedropped that state in particular. When I saw a different video from the African Diaspora News Channel (FKA The Advise Show). Phil talked about the El Paso shooting and said something that really hit me in just four words “Mass murderers have privilege”. Think about that for a minute. How many unarmed Black people get gunned down for far less by the police, yet White killers get taken alive and the cops suddenly don’t feel scared even if the suspect is armed? This is the Injustice system on full display.
2: #TrademarkWars Pt. III AKA Be Prepared…because Disney is suing people because of a foreign phrase!
Disney…STOP GIVING ME REASONS TO BASH YOU REGARDING YOUR RIP-OFF MOVIE!
I swear if that company keeps up with this madness, then I might as well call Ospreyshire’s Realm the Lion King Thievery Expose Blog. As you all know, Disney trademarked the phrase “Hakuna Matata” which sparked outrage on and off the African continent. There’s a petition still going on right now. You should already know my thoughts about this issue. I remember some people being in denial that Disney wouldn’t be stupid enough to sue people despite having legal fiat to do so. It was only a matter of time, but those people would be wrong and I was proven right. You see, Disney is suing a Chinese company for trying to trademark that Swahili phrase, but as “HakunaMatata” in their claim. Here’s more information about that story. Let’s break it down. An American company is suing a Chinese company over a phrase they didn’t invent from a language that isn’t spoken in either place. Now, China wants in on stealing African culture, too. For me, this is like America and China’s predatory business practices in Africa in microcosm. Just look at all the people being exploited by companies from both countries in the continent. You even have Chinese people beating up Ugandan politicians or murdering Namibian employees there and that’s the stuff I know about. I’m sure China wouldn’t like it if Disney trademarked a common phrase like “Xie xie” or “Ni hao” if they did something idiotic to promote the upcoming Mulan live-action remake, and everybody knows it. Lion King fans, I dare you to defend this and the other forms of theft.
#3: A leashed Black man…HOW SHAMEFUL!
Going back to Texas, there was a mentally ill Black man who was apprehended by two cops on horseback and leashed him! If it wasn’t for the cars and fashion, I would’ve thought I saw a real life scene from the 1800s, not 2019. The slave catcher imagery was beyond sick and this goes back to the first news story. You get accused of trespassing (allegedly), then you’ll have two cops leashing you up with horses, but if you slaughter people in the double digits, you get to be arrested with dignity by one cop! This is just beyond sick. I don’t want just an apology for their racist actions, I want those cops involved to be punished and for Donald Neely to sue the police department. America is so freaking bigoted. I’ve dealt with being discriminated firsthand here and that’s something some of you will never deal with in your lives. Name one white person in 2019 who was treated like Donald Neely. Exactly. I can’t ignore the mistreatment of others just because of their race and I hate how demonic people get softer treatment. I’m beyond infuriated as I recover from being sick.
I had to get these things off my chest. This dehumanization needs to stop.
I’m sorry. I seriously didn’t expect to make a rant involving the best-selling piece of plagiarism in movie history. Okay, I did get a smile on my face how that remake has been getting negative reviews, but I still get frustrated with their fans defending the indefensible.
However, recent situations and discoveries are only proving me right more and more!
Let’s recap on what The Lion King has stolen thus far:
Then came a 4th reason and this one involves a music video, the most famous Destiny’s Child member, and a lesser-known South African musician of Congolese and Angolan descent.
So, Beyonce came out with the new music video for “Spirit” which is a song for The Lion King remake. It features imagery of a desert and people wearing blue and red traditional African clothing. Wouldn’t it be crazy if the imagery copied a long-form music video that came out last year? Oh…that actually happened.
Petite Noir is the originator in this story. He made a short film/long-form music video for his “La Maison Noir” EP. I’ve checked out his music and it’s really good. I bought his EP on Bandcamp not just because I liked the music video or his music, but to support a real artist who doesn’t steal from others. He even self-directed his own music video. Want to know the subtitle of it? The Gift and the Curse. HAHAHAHA! Get it? Because that Beyonce vanity project…I mean companion soundtrack is called The Lion King: The Gift! Wow, shame on Beyonce, director Jake Nava, and Disney for stealing someone else’s art. I hope Petite Noir lawyers up and sues all those parties involved.
Disney and Nala…I mean, Beyonce are only proving me right even more that this franchise is a legacy built on artistic larceny. First, Japan, then multiple Swahili-speaking countries, and South Africa TWICE now?! They really have no shame.
I really didn’t want to do a post bashing this movie franchise again, but it was deserved.
Now if you excuse me, I’m going to rock out to Petite Noir’s EP at the moment. Dear Beyhive, your so-called goddess isn’t infallible whether she got Mickey Mouse money or not. Disney fans, your favorite company isn’t innocent.
[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.
At the time of this post, over 187K+ people signed the petition in that link above. I’m one of them because I practice what I preach.
Some of you may have seen my #TrademarkWars post not too long ago. I’m not sorry for repeating the information, but some of this maybe new to some of you. For those of you who didn’t see that earlier post, let me give you the scoop. Disney owns a trademark for the words “Hakuna Matata”.
“But Ospreyshire, that’s a stupid thing to worry about!” You might say. “What’s the big deal?”
It’s because making a dollar of a foreign phrase is cultural appropriation. That’s why.
This offends me more than The Lion King ripping off Kimba the White Lion, and that’s saying something. The thing is “Hakuna Matata” has been a very common phrase that the Swahili-speaking world (examples: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, DRC, etc.) has said for centuries. Disney acts like they can just own foreign words like some kind of hidden treasure. That’s colonizer thinking right there. Could you imagine the outrage if Disney or any other conglomerate were to trademark foreign phrases such as “C’est La Vie” from the French or “Que Sara Sara” from the Italians? Everybody would riot if that were to happen. Even English speakers know what those phrases mean and would call out something like that. Keep in mind, even Paris Hilton couldn’t trademark “That’s hot” and Donald Trump couldn’t trademark “You’re fired” when The Apprentice was a hit show, so what does that tell you? I guess since this involves Africans, then they don’t matter in Disney’s eyes by taking a common saying that’s spoken throughout multiple countries in that continent.
Cultural appropriation is another form of racism as it steals from others while benefiting the appropriator. I’m sick and tired of people getting away with thieving cultural elements that clearly never belonged to them to the first place. The Swahili speaking public got nothing out of this trademark even though they’ve been saying it long before the invention of animation.
If this irks you that colonialism still permeates even in kids movies, then I would urge you to sign.
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.