09 March 2017
Mowgli equals Imperialism
“Look for the bare necessities. The simple bare necessities. Forget about your worries and your strife.” This very well known quote evokes emotion from all walks of life as Disney movies appeal to people worldwide. In this particular quote, a message from Baloo to Mowgli that could be perceived of humans would be that of the average stereotype of humans to remain stressed while all other earthly creatures such as animals live without worries and free of responsibility. Imperialistic Mowgli who is too troubled for his own good finds comfort in the ‘chill’ and in other words lazy blue bear who just so happens to go by Baloo, the bear takes care of Mowgli in the Indian jungle ensuring his safety and happiness for the most part. The tragic story of Mowgli being abandoned by his birth parents at birth to be raised by wolves, who eventually must also send him on his way leads the young child on an adventure of a lifetime that comes back to haunt him. The experiences Mowgli receives in the jungle make him an immediate threat to mankind for they do not fully understand him. Mowgli the man-cub, the young imperialist too knowledgeable about animals to fit in with his own kind, meanwhile too human to stay in the jungle with the animals he would grow to hate the unique child who brought fear into the simple minds of both populations.
When watching this seemingly innocent children's movie the underlying messages became apparently clear in the terms of the monkeys. King Louie and his minions were unlike all the other characters as they did not have a British accent, the monkeys were also not as calm and ‘civilized’ as the other creatures throughout the film. When Mowgli encounters King Louie for the first time in his crumbling empire of a home he is welcomed with a song. Within this song is the message implying imperialistic views of both the white man’s burden and Anglo saxonism as the King sang “Now I’m the king of the swingers Oh, the jungle VIP I’ve reached the top and had to stop And that’s what botherin’ me I wanna be a man, man-cub And stroll right into town And be just like the other men I’m tired of monkeyin’ around!... Oh, oobee doo I wanna be like you I wanna talk like you Talk like you, too You’ll see it’s true An ape like me Can learn to be human too.” Within this quote as the King states he ‘wants to be a man’ is an example of Anglo saxonism for as the monkeys wish to be like Mowgli fits the generalization that to be like the superiors is to be a superior for in this term humans are supposed to dominate the world. The white man’s burden shows as the King sings of being “tired of monkeyin’ around… an ape like me can learn to be human too” where people have changed the culture of other populations to envy their own to justify colonialism. King Louie gives these views in a nice, friendly manner that for a child would not be understood for they see the monkeys singing and dancing as Mowgli enjoys the show being shown seemingly equal.
Disney’s The Jungle Book includes subliminal messages of imperialism as in the terms of a nation exercising political or economic control over a smaller nation. Mowgli the “man-cub” is portrayed as the larger nation for he is a human, though he has been raised by animals in the wild. Throughout the movie we see signs of Mowgli revolutionizing a few animals as they “require man's red flower” describing fire. There are many different terms for fire that are used within the movie as the creatures are terrified of fire. The idea of fire is yet another example of how Mowgli is the higher power, the more revolutionized person throughout the movie. The main idea for the movie and the way it relates to imperialism is that Mowgli is the larger nation, the one all others look up to. The monkeys represent the uncivilized and illiterate population as their characters are all portrayed as chaotic and close-minded. The role of Mowgli is to teach these and take care of them, Mowgli is what the monkeys aspire to be, they are Mowgli before his evolution.
The Jungle Book. Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, performances by Phil Harris, Sebastian Cabot, Louis Prima, George Sanders, Sterling Holloway, and Bruce Reitherman, Walt Disney Productions, 1967.
Terry Gilkyson. “The Bare Necessities.” The Jungle Book soundtrack, Van Dyke Parks, 1967, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0061852/soundtrack