Alison Agosti and Taylor Orci are friends. Recently, they re-watched The Lion King together (but separately in their own houses) to argue for why Nala should be considered a Disney princess.
Alison: Oh, hello@
Taylor: Hello! I was just re-reading the Lion King plot to refresh. It's dark!
Alison: Evil uncle committing murder to steal the throne? It's Hamlet!
Taylor: Thinking you killed someone and fleeing to a faraway land? It's Moses!
Alison: Okay, I'm pushin' play.
Taylor: This is totally happening.
The iconic scene of Simba being presented to the animal kingdom on Pride Rock.
Alison: Okay, so the very first scene of the film is a king introducing the future king to his subjects. It's establishing that this is a world where a lion monarchy rules the land.
Alison: Oh god, there's baby Simba. He's so cute.
Taylor: Here's where I think, "A well-managed monarchy doesn't sound so bad."
Alison: Do you think they sent out an Evite? With a note attached that read, "Hey nobody eat anyone"?
Taylor: Maybe it's like a homing device in wild animals? When a new heir to the monarchy is born?
Simba has his first interaction with his evil uncle, Scar.
Alison: Simba is being kind of a dick. No need to remind your uncle that you took his place in line for the throne, dude.
Taylor: Scar has good reason to be upset.
Alison: Interesting that their parents would name one Mufasa and the other Scar. Really asking for him to be evil.
Taylor: If I knew Jonathan Taylor Thomas was gonna be king before me I'd want hyenas to eat him too.
Hey! After Scar talks him into going to the elephant graveyard, Simba doesn't go on his own. Big plot point here: He first goes to Nala and asks her go with him. On the way there, Zazu from says they're betrothed, so she's a princess from the start.
Alison: Also, considering that Mufasa was the only adult male around when both Simba and Nala were born, they are probably related. Either way, princess status.
Taylor: Here's our first song. I think it's important that together they sing, "I Just Can't Wait to be King"
Alison: Sure, she intends to rule. It's her destiny as much as Simba's. Oh! Now here are the hyenas, the first time Simba is threatened and he just jumped behind Nala like a real coward.
Taylor: Simba has not won me over.
Alison: He's being a real dingus, no question.
Taylor: Just to be clear, they are running for their lives over piles of bones. Kids' movie.
Alison: It's fine if it's animals!
Mufasa saves Simba and Nala from the hyenas.
Taylor: Nala is sticking up for him and they hang their heads in shame together.
Alison: She's standin' by her man.
Taylor: She's the Ruth Madoff to his Bernie.
Taylor: Can we just point out Mufasa's hair is fab-u-lous. We've learned good hair is essential to lion rule.
Mufasa is trampled to death by wildebeests. Scar convinces Simba it's his fault. Simba runs to the outskirts of the Pride Lands, escaping death once more from the hyenas.
Alison: Simba doesn't take much convincing to run away from the body of his dead father and responsibilities.
Taylor: Simba still hasn't won me over.
Alison: Can we at least acknowledge that Scar is encouraging desegregation with lions/hyenas under his rule?
Taylor: Fair point.
Simba is now a grown lion, living the easy life with Timon and Pumba on the outskirts of the Pride Lands.
Taylor: Nathan Lane as Timon and Matthew Broderick as adult Simba? The Producers!
Taylor: Pretty sure "Hakuna Matata" means, "Give up! And smoke crack!"
Alison: Yeah, they do encourage Simba to be a stoner vegetarian. I think in real life wild pigs eat meat?
Taylor: Weren't they in Willow? They tried to eat Willow?
Alison: I know they were in Hannibal.
Nala now grown, stalks and tries to eat Timon and Pumba. Instead, she ends up in a wrestling match with a defensive Simba. The two are reunited for the first time since their childhood.
Taylor: MEET CUTE!
Alison: But they are physical equals. Oh man, she wins!
Taylor: Here comes the "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" song!
Alison: They totally have sex here, right?
Taylor: Cat penises are barbed.
Alison: Cat penises are so barbed. Kids' movie.
Taylor: Whoa! What's up with Nala's lyric, "Why won't he be the king I know he is?" That's just like when girls go, "You don't have to like a guy how he is. You can change him!"
Alison: Again, Nala is the only one being active.
Taylor: So Simba is basically your rich, lazy boyfriend who, if he just applied himself, could get that law degree and make partner at his Dad's firm.
Alison: Also, he's being mean to her post-barbed sex.
Taylor: Whoa you're right!
Alison: AND he asked if she was satisfied and she replied, "Just disappointed," which, is how it goes.
Simba sees a brief vision of his father Mufasa in the sky thanks to Rafiki the mandrill. It helps him make peace with the guilt he has from his past.
Alison: Oh, hey cloud dad.
Taylor: All that weed in the outskirts and he couldn't see his cloud dad?
Alison: Cloud dad is a nightmare.
Taylor: That vision was short. What's cloud dad's hurry?
Alison: Stay awhile, cloud dad.
Taylor: Or at least be clear, you had time to plan this.
Alison: Also, how many years has this been? Like two people years? Give me some military strategy.
Taylor: Okay. Nala had been telling him forever to go back and then he says the monkey told him! Ugh. The worst.
Alison: Yeah, he got mad at his woman and then took the advice of a hallucination.
Again, she's fighting WITH him. She's his equal!
Simba goes back to the Pride Lands to fight Scar.
Taylor: It's all lady lions!
Alison: It's all lady lions!
Taylor: Where are all the dude lions?
Alison: Only one or two dude lions in a pride.
Alison: So, they're omitting the fact that Mufasa and now Simba will be getting with all those ladies.
Taylor: They really leave out the Big Love aspect of lion politics in this movie.
Simba fights Scar, then leaves Scar for the hyenas who deliver swift justice and kill him. The Pride Lands are restored. Nala and Simba have a baby, who is presented to the animal kingdom just as Simba was at the beginning of the film. Everyone lives happily ever after.
Making the Case
Taylor: So, there's terrorism going on in France, let's talk about the injustice of why Nala is not considered a Disney princess. When I asked on Twitter why Nala wasn't a princess, you seemed to have a strong reaction of I AGREE.
Alison: Because there is a clear, defined royalty within the world. The lions are in charge of Pride Rock, Simba is the heir to the "throne."
Taylor: Right, she's gonna be the "Lion Queen." Ergo...
Alison: He's is repeatedly referred to as the future king. Ergo... Disney Princess.
Taylor: But then there's this WEIRD notion that she can't be a Disney Princess because she's an animal. Personally, as a kid I identified more with the animals in the Disney cartoons than the human princesses. Maid Marian from Robin Hood, for example, who's a fox in the Disney version of the story. I would still like to figure out how to make her veil-thing something I can wear in my everyday life.
Alison: It really helped frame her face, you know?
I think the thing is, they're anthropomorphized. They can talk, reason, and carry a tune.
Taylor: Also, we mentioned as we were watching the movie: Nala is really the agent of change in The Lion King. She's not like some throwaway character like Bambi's whoever she was. There's a word, not protagonist, but deuteragonist.
Alison: I don't even know what that means.
Taylor: I didn't either, but they use it in a lot of the synopses. I looked it up and it means "second most important character." So important I guess that the Greeks gave it its own thing.
Alison: ALSO-- Considering that Mufasa was the only adult male around when both Simba and Nala were born, they are probably related. Either way, she's a princess.
Taylor: Again, this goes into the unnerving Sister Wives politics of lion prides, but I totally agree!
Okay, so one more thing: Let's say Nala gets princess status. Little girls get to wear cat ears and cat tails and really great cat eye makeup. Do all lady animals at Disney get crowned princess?
Alison: Those lions do have killer eyeshadow.
Taylor: The undershadow on the man lions-- kinda Bowie-esque.
Alison: Re: animal princesses-- I think all the lady animals that are part of a instated social monarchy should, sure.
Taylor: Even though some human Disney princesses didn't need this requirement? Like, what was Snow White?
She was like a live-in nurse?
Alison: No, she was totally a princess! Then that evil queen married her dad.
Taylor: Oh. I didn't know. Okay, what about... Belle? But I guess the Beast was some kind of royalty...
Alison: Right! She's a shop keeper's daughter, but the Beast IS a prince.
Taylor: Mulan? She was a princess? And I never saw Princess and the Frog.
Alison: I think Mulan marries a prince.
Taylor: On the Disney Princess page, the first sentence on Tiana is "Tiana dreams of opening up her own restaurant." ???
Alison: I think in THAT one again, the frog is the prince.
Taylor: OH DUH. Man, that one was really right in front of me.
Okay, so Nala should be a princess because she is royalty AND marries royalty, that's double duty. It makes sense, 'cause when you mentioned awhile back that Lady from Lady and the Tramp shouldn't be a princess because she's just a dog I was on board, but I didn't know why. But now it seems pretty cut and dry.
Alison: I think of the animal movies, we're really only talking about The Lion King, Robin Hood and Bambi, right? I don't even remember if the girl from Bambi has a name.
Taylor: Yeah, I would count her out. I think they added her just so people wouldn't question the sexuality of a male deer. Dumbo didn't have a lady, right?
Taylor: Song of the South? That's like a foot in animated and a foot in real life. I don't even think they let people watch that anymore.
Alison: I've never seen that!
Taylor: I just think another reason why it would be nice to have Nala as a Disney princess is because, sometimes little girls don't know how they're going to express their sexuality. God that sounds gross. Do you know what I mean? If there's an animal Disney princess, the focus is taken away from the whole-body conscious aspect of it.
There's still the 'you gotta change your man' aspect, but progress is progress.
Alison: It's just a shame that they choose a species where females are the majority of the population but chose to make the one male the focal point/hero.
Taylor: Re-watching it I got a little miffed-- like, EVERY other lion but Mufasa, Scar, and Simba is a woman, but Simba goes on a trip for like six human months or whatever and the whole place goes to shit cause there's no man in charge? I sound like a bitter divorcee. But oh well.
Alison: Oh man, that's a good point. Or at least THE RIGHT MAN wasn't in charge.
Taylor: Oh right. Scar is a man. He's more like a neutered male.
Alison: Yes, very demure and British. Jeremy Irons would ruin a kingdom.
Taylor: And Scar would ruin The Taming of the Shrew.
Nala wouldn't ruin Taming of the Shrew.
Alison: It all comes back to Shakespeare.
Taylor: Is the main character in that one a princess?
Taylor: Meh. Good enough.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.