Look, far be it for me to deride someone else’s opinion, and fair play to anyone who has the conviction to put that opinion out there, on the internet, for the whole world to see, dissect and pick apart. I can appreciate that there are nuances to everything, including opinions on popular culture, and they should be allowed – hence why, for all my opposition to the gatekeepers within the Star Trek and Star Wars fandoms, I believe people have a right to criticise the things I like.
That’s why, for all my opposition to what Matt has to say on The Lion King duo Timon and Pumbaa, I accept the appearance of a different point of view. It’s hardly going to be the popular view, but that doesn’t matter – Matt has every right to express his opinion.
I of course, have every right to express my opinion of his, erm, opinion, which I shall do… Starting now.
Are Timon and Pumbaa responsible for nearly destroying Simba’s future? Did they lure Simba astray from his rightful destiny? Were they at times selfish? That all depends. Sure, they encouraged Simba to live a different life to the one that was ordained for him, but that was largely out of necessity – Simba wasn’t exactly forthcoming with what had happened (believing that he’d gotten his father Mufasa killed by accident when he met Timon and Pumbaa) and never volunteered the truth at any point. Timon and Pumbaa tried – in their own unique way – to encourage Simba to let go of his pain, rather than wallow in it. They didn’t understand everything, because they lacked all the facts.
Let’s not forget that they also saved Simba from dying in the desert.
There’s also another issue here. Simba’s life is pre-planned, prior to Scar’s coup. He was already feeling a bit of that weight when he initially rejected the idea of marrying Nala, right before ‘I Just Can’t Wait to be King’. When he had the chance to experience a life that was his own, not one planned for him… Well, we all want to feel in charge of our own destiny. He was also carrying a lot of deep, emotional pain, and he’s only human – er, lion – to want to keep that locked away, where it cannot hurt him. His friends Timon and Pumbaa are unaware of this, because Simba, even after the passage of an untold number of years, hasn’t opened up.
It’s not Timon and Pumbaa that cause Simba to refuse to go back with Nala to the Pride Lands. Yes, they wanted Simba to stay, out of a selfish desire to maintain their trio, but wanting a friend to stay close is natural. In the end though, Simba won’t go back because he’s harbouring incredible guilt that he feels he just cannot face.
And in the end, when Simba finally has his revelation, Timon and Pumbaa choose their friendship with him over their carefree life, risking their own lives to help him reclaim his kingdom. Not exactly villainous.