The Lion King and the Elephant Man


Why "The Lion King?" Why now? Seventeen years after the film entered the ranks of Disney animated classics, its 3D re-release last weekend shot to the top of the box office with a $29.3 million take. You'd think that by now that every parent in the world has seen the DVD a million times already with their kids. Why do people line up to pay some $14 bucks for a 3D version that adds nothing but blurriness to the experience?

I think maybe President Obama had an insight into the film's enduring popularity when he showed Simba's nativity scene from the movie as his "official birth video" at the White House Correspondents Dinner back on May 1. It was a performance all the more impressive because he must have had in the back of his mind the fact that far away in Pakistan Navy Seals were taking out bin Laden.

As he pointed out to the "Fox table," however, the clip was a joke. But the film also has a deeper, more serious significance. It evokes American's deep-rooted yearning for a savior, a "chosen one" who will come out of nowhere and set everything right. That was the onus that was put on Obama, and now that he hasn't produced a miracle cure for all that ails us, he's more a scapegoat than a lion king.

Enter, then, Governor Rick Perry of Texas with his campaign video, and one he expects us to take seriously.

Apparently  Perry and his handlers took a look at the Eisensteinian ad from Tim Pawlenty's aborted campaign and thought it was too subtle. Instead they come up with bludgeoning barrage of images that makes the trailer for Michael Bay's "Transformers 3" look like a clip from Ozu. Depicting an America reduced to "28 Days Later"-like devastation backed by  the voiceover oratory of "President Zero" (why not "President Negro?"), it cuts to the arrival of the messianic Perry on horseback backed by flags, fighter planes, and smiling faces (maybe they'll save the montage of lethal injections for Georgia voters).

If it's a joke, let's hope it's not on us.

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