For Blog Roundtable 2: The Story of the Circle of Life

I’m going to see the musical The Lion King with my sister this weekend at the Detroit Opera House. The Lion King almost certainly won’t make it into my project, but I was thinking about it and thought I’d take a few minutes to analyze how the bare story elements of the musical might help me in my project. Perhaps as I’m watching it, I’ll be paying attention to what about the story is so intriguing. Is it powerful because of one of the themes, such as “The Circle of Life,” that illustrates that things (families, regimes, organizations) go on throughout time, no matter how much they may evolve? Might I simulate that with the story of some group that has proceeded even after the demise or retirement of a central figure, such as a teacher, coach or even a U.S. president? Or is the story powerful because of the conflict between good and evil forces Simba and Scar, and the ultimate triumph of the former? Maybe I could tell a similar story about a similar battle that I’ve seen play out? Perhaps the story appeals to people because of the strength of family. In that case, I could tell a story about family, around which so many stories are structured.

Maybe in the end, the story is meaningful for any one of these reasons to all different people: those who have dealt with trying to be the successor to an important throne; those who have rooted for good over evil; those who are close to their families. Maybe each story captivates a different person in a different way. I had already associated this as part of my project, and I think it’s something worth exploring in-depth. When I listen to and read the advice of the writers I’m going to consult, the main question I want to think about is how to make these decisions. How would Eli Saslow’s (my Patronus) piece on the parents of the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting been different if he had centered it around the reform effort, or revisited the day of the shooting more, or profiled several families as opposed to focusing the narrative on one? And why didn’t he? I think any story lends itself to several different perspectives, and the fact that each person could take something different for that adds importance to the value of thinking about how we tell these stories.

2 thoughts to “For Blog Roundtable 2: The Story of the Circle of Life”

  1. NAAAAAAAAAAAAAA ZIBOINGAAAAAA BA BA GEE NEE BA BA FILET MIGNON
    ^My best guess.

    I’m excited to hear about your perspective after you see the musical 🙂 This may just be because I love theater so much, but nothing inspires me like a musical. I love thinking about everything that goes into every single performance. It’s like creating a television show or movie, but more challenging in my opinion. The singing and dancing and getting each cast member to be singing and dancing and doing the exact right thing at the exact right time is awesome (as in awe-inspiring). While you’re at the Detroit Opera House, it might be cool to think about how the narrative would have been different if Scar was the anti-hero. My mind always wants to give villains the benefit of the doubt. What if Scar had an abusive father? Or mother? What if he lost a child? These things are not excuses for evil, but they make me think a little more about who I would turn into if any of it happened to me.
    I’ve also been struggling with perspective-taking for my project. I think I’ve settled on having “myself” and one other main character, a fictional female book collector (FBC). I originally considered writing a fictional account about an actual female book collector, but I don’t want to be confined by whomever I chose. I also just realized that I’ve been feeling tempted to project my own feelings and personality on my FBC (she doesn’t have a name yet). I don’t want to do this though. I want her to be developed and challenging. I want her to do things I wouldn’t do. I want to be inspired by her.

  2. “Might I simulate that with the story of some group that has proceeded even after the demise or retirement of a central figure, such as a teacher, coach or even a U.S. president? Or is the story powerful because of the conflict between good and evil forces Simba and Scar, and the ultimate triumph of the former?”

    What an interesting thought! I guess I’ve always assumed that the story was simply telling us (me as an obsessed six year old…and maybe still an obsessed 22 year old) to treat each other with respect, which, yes, is kind of cheesy. But the value of that is beyond important. You talk about how you’re looking to writers to find out what questions to ask and explore to best tell a story– which I think is exactly rooted in, what I perceive to be the Lion King’s storyline of respect, kindness, and diversity (of both people and thought). While I do think many good stories do have an underlying foundation of the classic good vs. evil battle or something, I don’t think that the stories you are aiming to tell necessarily have to showcase both the good and the bad (or superhero and villain, Simba and Scar, etc.). I think, and note that this is just me thinking, that these newly-lensed stories will be out of respect for the people they are about. Just like you discussed in class about Saslow’s Sandy Hook follow-up, these stories go deep and go personal. It’s not about the good and bad, but more about the real and raw.

    PLEASE tell us how the show was! Some of my friends went and were really crazy about it!

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