Scar: The Desegregationalist?

Maybe we have Scar all wrong. If you watch The Lion King, you can easily come away with the view that Simba’s uncle is a devious usurping murderer. And this would not necessarily be incorrect. Yet, I do question if we are not presented with a somewhat lopsided view of the Royal family that predisposes us against the dark-haired lion. Mufasa, King of the Pridelands, is seen presenting his heir to resounding cheers and hoof-stamping from his subjects leading one to believe that every animal supports his rule. But we obviously know this isn’t true. I’m not talking about Scar…I’m talking about the hyenas. This group, characterized for their low intellect and ravenous appetites, have been banished from the lands and forced to live in an elephant graveyard. We know nothing about why or when this happened, only that Mufasa and team do everything to make sure this segregation continues to occur. But does he really have that right?

Hyenas are carnivores and therefore a competitor to the Circle of Life story that Mufasa bases his whole worldview around. The hyenas also eat the antelope and when they die become grass that is eaten by the antelope. Yet for some reason, they are not allowed to live in the lush, gated community that is the Pridelands. Why? They are doing what comes naturally to them, yet Mufasa does not allow them to mingle with the other local residents. We see cheetah’s in the opening sequence, so this wasn’t a sentence based on their diet. So what was it? When we look for an answer here, the obvious thing one could point to would be what the pridelands look like after Mufasa dies and Scar & The Hyenas take over. But that could be more a case of poor leadership vs. the fault of the hyenas.

So with that question swirling in the clouds of your mind, let’s revisit Scar. Say what you want about him, but one positive thing that he does is reach out to a disenfranchised group of underdogs that results in them having the same access as every other animal. Sure his motives may have been purely self-serving, but what politician doesn’t have ulterior motives for good works? And does the ends justify the means? When Scar’s obituary came out after he was digested by those he helped to free, I hope that it would mention that for a brief moment, Scar brought a little equality and pride to these lands.


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  1. If you forget the whole species thing, the Hyena’s stand symbolically for the people in society, who are greedy and don’t care who they hurt to get it. The lowlifes with superior complex, so to speak. Bullies, which should never get a shred of power. In short, those type of people who get the power in Germany under Hitler, and those are the people Scar allows to prosper, leading to the destruction of the balance.

    1. Definitely think that is one way to look at it if you remove the animal aspect…but if you don’t…it brings a whole other POV to the movie. Thanks for the comment!

      1. Psychologically speaking Swanpride is correct and probably the intended view of the woman who wrote the story. But good point, she should have shown ‘good’ loving Hyenas. Like your views.

  2. This is such an interesting read! I studied Shakespeare, so I can never think about the Lion King without considering the souce material (Hamlet), and there is a similar amibguity to Scar’s equivalent character, Claudius. Although he is also a “usurping murderer” he (unlike Scar) does a pretty good job of running the kingdom, which raises all sorts of questions as to whether our leaders can ever be morally good and show strong leadership skills at the same time.

    I also wonder if the segregation of the hyenas occured pre-Scar, or if they were simply an easy target? Is Scar in fact the cause of their separation from ‘society’, with Mufasa and the others shunning them as a consequence of their willngness to follow Scar? It’s certainly something I’ll bear in mind next time I watch the film!

    1. Thanks for the comment! Yeah, I don’t think that anyone ever realized Scar had any connection to the hyenas until he brought them into the pride as King. I always see the Hamlet thing too along with the Nazi imagery, but wanted to think out of the box for this one!

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