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Disney's Loin King? Group Sees Dirt in the Dust

By Leef Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
September 1, 1995

You say you've watched "The Lion King" 50 times with your children and never caught the "sex" scene?

Look again, says a Stafford, Va.-based Christian group that is protesting split-second imagery that it says has debased the G-rated animated movie.

American Life League (ALL), an antiabortion organization boasting 300,000 supporters across the country, has asked Disney to apologize to its fans for including what is says is inappropriate sexual material in several of its films.

The most recent example, it says, involves Simba, star of Disney's "Lion King." Forlorn over the death of his father, the young lion flops dejectedly on the ground near the edge of a cliff. The result, offended viewers say, is a cloud of dust particles that swirls and swoops to form the word "sex," and then quickly fades away.

"The Walt Disney Company claims to be a provider of wholesome family entertainment, but the message in The Lion King' is not clean, it is not wholesome, and it is not fun," said ALL spokeswoman Tracey Casale. "It has no place in a child's movie."

Disney spokesman Rick Rhoades rebuffed the group's claims as a "perception thing."

"They're seeing something there that isn't," Rhoades said. "It's just ridiculous to think that we'd put out a movie containing something less than a wholesome image."

ALL says it first learned about the "Lion King" scene in July when a New York woman called to say that her 4-year-old son caught the message. The group -- which began a boycott of Disney films in April to protest the movie "Priest," saying that it misrepresented the Catholic Church -- claims the company has a long history of sneaking "sexual messages" into its animated films.

In particular, ALL has denounced a scene in "Aladdin" in which it says a voice whispers, "Good teenagers, take off your clothes." The Disney script reads: "Scat! Good Tiger. Take off and go."

Even more troubling, the group says, is a scene in "The Little Mermaid" in which the minister at Ariel's wedding allegedly gets an erection. Disney says the critics are seeing the minister's knee.

Disney took its lumps last year when viewers of a laser-disc version of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" claimed that when they freeze-framed the animation, they found everything from frontal nudity to Michael Eisner's home phone number.

"All of these movies contain something sexual in nature," insisted Casale. "You can't help but think that Disney is not what they have portrayed themselves to be."

© Copyright 1996 The Washington Post Company

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