Scar and Bolsonaro – a comparison

Image: Francesco Ungaro


He was evil because he was the villain, but he died because he was stupid.

Not every villain needs a complex backstory and an indecipherable motivation. For every Magneto (Ian McKellen/Michael Fassbender), we have a Nicky Holiday, the antagonist of The Great Muppet Caper, from 1981, who said to Kermit the Frog: “Why am I doing this? Because I'm a villain. It's pure and simple."

The Lion King, at least the original 1994 version, is an 88-minute film made for children, with five different musical ensembles. Given the limitations of public and time, it is enough to know that the antagonist is announced by clouds of green sulfur and is called Scar – an English word that in Portuguese means scar. (This was before the writers had the empathy to consider undertones capable – and I'm not sure they're subtle enough to be called “undertones” – of equating physical disfigurement with evil.) Like Nicky Holiday, Scar is superficially motivated by his jealousy of his successful brother, and failing that, well, he's the villain. What else is there to know?

However, even if we accept that he is inherently evil, we can still assess how well he pursues his sinister goals. And, unfortunately for Scar, his very limited and very personal motivations make him a rather ineffective revolutionary leader.

Though unlike his dignified and statesmanlike brother, Mufasa. Scar is charismatic in his own way, but his limitations as a strategist and political thinker are exposed like elephant bones moments after scratching his brother's paws and - like the dramatic guy he is - hissing "long live the king" while playing Mufasa from a cliff.

Basically, Scar's coup d'état is centered around replacing one absolute monarch with another without violating the chain of succession. Furthermore, Scar's plan is predicated on the fact that, with Mufasa and Simba out of the way, he would be the rightful leader of Pride Rock. The idea of ​​abolishing the monarchy is considered by one of the hyenas in “Be Prepared,” and Scar immediately brushes it off by yelling, “Idiots! There will be a king!” It is not a great social revolution.

Scar's plan is essentially to depose an incredibly popular and successful ruler and install his own government, under which everything will be the same, except the lionesses will do all the hunting for not just them but the hyenas as well. So not only is he replacing a beloved monarch, but he is also marching over Kingdomstone at the head of a foreign army. Once in power, Scar commands the lionesses – that is, the remaining nobility.

It's hard to imagine a plan less likely to attract popular support. Human history has no shortage of monarchs deposed by internal revolution in favor of a kinsman (the War of the Roses – 1455-1485 – is just one example), but usually such an uprising is spurred on by the unpopularity of the incumbent ruler or promises of reform. by the successor, none of which describe Scar's rise to power.

Likewise, even a cursory glance at US foreign policy after the Cold War would illustrate the power of a military to install an unpopular right-wing strongman, for example, Syngman Rhee (1875-1965) in South Korea and General Augusto Pinochet (1915-2006) in Chile. But, Scar didn't bring foreign troops to Pride Rock to guard against a perceived threat - the hyenas were the threat. Not only that, they were a threat that Mufasa had been able to keep in check without breaking a sweat.

In a column published on July 30, 2019, in the magazine Veja, journalist Ricardo Noblat defined what makes a statesman. According to Noblat, whoever aspires to be a statesman must have a clear vision of the world and must ask himself whether this vision is really the best one for the country he intends to govern. There are people who, faced with this question, answer, without a critical spirit, that their vision is not only the best, but is unquestionable. In fact, the person who presents himself like this is not a statesman, but a mediocre politician, who measures the world by the short ruler of his prejudices and, as a consequence, has absolutely nothing great to offer the country in terms of politics, of economy and the proper functioning of institutions.

Noblat infers that a true statesman is not the one who commands, but the one who governs – and to govern is to make decisions after listening to the legitimate political and social forces and seeking to know what are the authentic priorities of current generations, but, mainly, of future ones. In this way, he is able to inspire citizens, even those who did not choose him as president, to work for a better country. That's the difference between a construction project and a destruction project. One of Brazil's great evils after redemocratization has been the scorched earth policy: whoever takes power announces that he will make a clean slate of what came before, without caring if what came before is essential for the country's growth.

In that sense, frankly, the most amazing thing about Scar's usurpation of the Pridestone is that it was successful while it lasted. Consider the time it takes for a lion cub to mature. Simba was in the desert looking for food for at least four years while his uncle ruled. Four years later, Scar was able to rule based solely on the strength of the monarchy's institution.

Scar's rule is characterized by being violent and absolute. Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527), in his magnum opus The prince (1532), justified the use of violence to maintain control over the population, as he defended the idea that “the end justifies the means” and asserted that it was better for the king to be feared than loved. In the Leviathan (1651), Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) argued that royal power was necessary to bring order to the world. This theorist defended the theory that, before the absolute power of the king, Europe lived in a state of chaos in which violence predominated, because, according to Hobbes, man was evil by nature, therefore, only the absolute power of the king would be able to put everything in order. Jacques Bossuet (1627-1704), in his “A Politics Withdrawn from Holy Scripture” (1709), justified that the king's power came from God, therefore, contesting royal power would be the same as contesting God himself.

Scar's vile rule flowed unchallenged before Nala, a liberal young noblewoman, instigated the idea of ​​overthrowing him. And even then, she did this only when the kingdom was on the brink of starvation. Which brings up Scar's most astonishing failure as a statesman: within four years, he managed to alter the ecosystem of the greater Rock of Kingdom area to the point where it was almost incapable of sustaining life. Overhunting has not only overloaded the food chain, it has also altered weather patterns and turned a verdant savannah into a desert. Lionesses and hyenas did it in four years.

In addition to the temporary ineffectiveness of the government's action to alleviate the impacts of the lack of resources in Pedra do Reino, Scar created internal conflicts in his government, mainly with the lionesses. From this perspective, political instability ended up being stimulated by Scar himself. The climate of instability generated an environment of insecurity for everyone residing in Pedra do Reino, which reinforced a movement of dissatisfaction on the part of the majority of the lionesses, the silent movement reverberated to the base of Scar, which was composed mostly of hyenas, they implicitly were unhappy with the management of the self-centered usurper.

Generally speaking, however ruthless and short-sighted his plan, there were a few defining moments when a bad decision cost him everything. The first was deciding to try for the throne first. Before Scar's attempts to drive Simba and Mufasa to destruction, it's hard to see what was so bad about his life. Sure, he had to deal with the stereotype of being his brother's occasional sycophant and the archetype of being the self-righteous, smug nobleman, but Scar also seemed to be able to do whatever he wanted, all the time. Seems like a sweet way to live for anyone who isn't downright evil for the sake of plot convenience.

The second mistake Scar made was letting the hyenas kill Simba in the wake of the Wildebeest incident, instead of extinguishing the heir apparent himself. Scar will just kill his brother and his king, and nothing we know about Scar supports the idea that he thought fratricide and regicide were cool, but infanticide was a bridge too far. Quite the contrary, he tried to release Simba in a fatal ambush before the stampede that killed Mufasa. But both times, Scar wasn't going to get his paws dirty by killing the pup himself, and that was his undoing. Dead, Simba would have been a political nonentity. Alive, he turned out to be the instrument of Scar's destruction. The lionesses turned on Scar en masse only when Simba returned and revealed that Scar was not the rightful king of Pride Rock.

And once they did, Scar made his final mistake. When Simba corners him, Scar blames the hyenas. Simba, unconvinced, offers Scar the same terms Scar offered him after Mufasa's death: run away and never come back. Scar tries to fight his way past Simba, for him it would be undignified to leave the throne without a fight. After the epic clash, Scar ends up being killed by his allies.

Frankly, that's what Scar deserved, for refusing to give up while he was winning; for messing up the structure of Pedra do Reino – the most self-sustaining government a jungle had to offer; for not recognizing his greatest threat as she stared at him; and, finally, for refusing to give up while he was late. Scar was evil because he was the villain, but he died because he was stupid.

*Vanderlei Tenorio is a bachelor's student in geography at the Federal University of Alagoas (UFAL).


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