Dirty Disney Debunked: The Lion King

I’ve ruined your innocence about Bambi and for that I do apologize. But I will make amends. How? By restoring the name of The Lion King, one of my favorites of all Disney movies (and movies in general, for that matter).

There are two rumors I have heard throughout my lifetime about sexuality working its way into The Lion King that I will address here today. 

1. The “SEX” leaves

During the scene when Simba is feeling particularly angsty about the death of his father– okay, I realize that’s most of the film — after Timon makes fun of Mufasa’s “Great Kings of the Past” theory, Simba walks off in an emo huff and plops down on a pile of dust and leaves. They then swirl around in the night sky and make the magical journey to tell Rafiki that Simba is indeed alive and “it is time.”

If you freeze frame this moment at just the right time, you can see the leaves make a little message.



Now, many a randy teenage boy has seen this image and concluded, quite understandably, that the image reads “SEX.” But if you look at the image closer, you’ll see the bottom line of the middle letter isn’t really too defined. It looks more like “SFX,” the acronym for the special effects department. Instead of putting in a non-sequitur PG word written in the sky, it makes much more sense that the special effects guys just wanted to leave a little hidden signature in their work.

Sorry, Disney definitely likes to sneak some things in there, but this one is clean.

2. “Every time that I –” “Hey Pumbaa, not in front of the kids!” 


I loved this line when I was little. I thought it was hilarious. I had no idea, however, what Timon was stopping Pumbaa from saying. When I was about ten or eleven, kids started saying that Pumbaa was talking about mating, and how his flatulence problem put a damper in his sex life. I’m not sure how wide spread this belief was, but me and my friends certainly believed it.

It wasn’t until a few years later when I understood the concept of rhyme structure well enough (I was a little slow, okay!) that I realized that the logical word to couple “down-hearted” was “farted.” I blame this on the bizarre notion that some people believe “fart” is a bad word. It never occurred to me that Timon would have to censor a word as benign as that. Seriously, my cousin in kindergarten got in trouble for saying “fart” in class. What’s with that?

Anyway, the point is that Pumbaa was not talking about his sex life (which is most likely alive and well with his little meerkat “roommate”) but rather simply his stinky hiney. Beyond some mild potty humor, this one checks out as well.

Before you go, though, there is one blatantly sexual moment in The Lion King. During “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” Simba and Nala have a little roll in the grass (literally, not figuratively), and Nala gives him this look:



If that doesn’t say “come and get it,” I don’t know what does.

Sorry, couldn’t let you go completely unscathed.

  • Alexandra

    Actually, I remember hearing once that there was some kind of strike/discontent going on with the sound effects or special effects people involved with The Lion King at the time final animation was going on for this scene, and the animators empathized with the employees and put this in to show their solidarity?

    Not sure if that’s true, but in any case, I love that you’re doing this! I’ve spent such a long time arguing with people about what is or is not dirty in Disney films. Keep it up!

  • hahaha. it’s the come hither look for sure.

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