Scar is a villain from The Lion King, a Disney movie about a young lion’s journey to the throneScar is not only a representation of how race is presented in film but also how society uses villains as a way of shaping social norms.  Compared to Mufasa and Simba, Scar clearly has a darker fur and mane collar (black to be specific).  The implication that Scar is a much darker and less attractive villain raises a racial issue within the film. Scar is surrounded by his companions, hyenas, and with Disney’s ability to animate their faces, they have even made one that resembles Whoopi Goldberg (also of African descent)[1].  The use of darker complexion is no coincidence: one of the emerging trends of the early 1990s was a display of victimization of the white race[2].  Scar not only pretends to take Simba under his wing, but he also watches Mufasa die with an uncomfortable sense of happiness.  Scar not only mirrors racial discrimination in our society but also represents an outcast due to a physical deformity.  The scar across his left eye shows the audience immediately that he is different from the rest of the pack and must therefore be up to no good.

In Jungian psychology, a shadow represents the “dark side of the psyche”[3].   Scar spends almost all of his time in the shadows, and thus represents and obstacle that Simba must overcome.  Through the film, we see Simba shed his undesirable traits, and subconsciously persuades us to join his heroic identity.  Consequently, we relate dark to evil and light to hero, thereby making our associations of whether someone has good or bad character related to their complexion.  The location of where they make their homes is also of interest.  Mufasa and Simba live on Pride Rock, an open space with plenty of sunshine and happiness while Scar is seen living in the Elephant Graveyard with several hyenas[4].  This not only juxtaposes their surroundings but also portrays the undesirables living in the shadows, a place where Simba is forbidden to go.  Much like our society, residential segregation is not only marked by SES but also by race.

[1] Roth, Matt. “The Lion King, A Short History of Disney Fascism” Jump Cut a Review of Contemporary Media (1996) pp 15-20

[2] Doane, Ashley W. “While Identity and Race Relations In the 1990s” Perspectives on Current Social Problems Pp. 151-159 (1997)

[3] Wong, Vicky. “Deconstructing Disney’s The Lion King” Kinema Journal University of Waterloo. Web. 18 Nov, 2013.

[4] The Lion King. Dir. Roger Allers & Rob Minkoff. Walt Disney Home Video, 1994. Film.


2 responses to “Scar

  1. I always find it interesting that Disney tends to darken and feminize its villains. Scar isn’t any different; his face is slimmer and he relies on his brains because he is physically incapable of great strength. He also has highly arched brows and his mane looks more like long hair than the crowning glory of the lion. His power lies in his ability to persuade. All of these things are considered female traits. In this way we see othering in not only race but also in gender presentation. Scar takes on feminine characteristics in addition to his dark tones, making him the perfect other.

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