The Lion King reboot is set to come out next year, and the audience once again will be subject to another rendition of the famous Hakuna Matata. As it turns out, Disney has trademarked the Swahili phrase, and a petition has come out to have them remove it.
As per Change.org, the petition was started by a Shelton Mpala and it writes that Disney has no right to trademark a phrase that it didn't invent. They write:
While we respect Disney as an entertainment institution responsible for creating many of our childhood memories, the decision to trademark ‘Hakuna Matata' is predicated purely on greed and is an insult not only the spirit of the Swahili people but also, Africa as a whole. The movie is set in Africa and the characters have African names which further makes the decision to implement the trademark a perplexing one. The term ‘Hakuna Matata' is not a Disney creation hence not an infringement on intellectual or creative property, but an assault on the Swahili people and Africa as a whole. It sets a terrible precedence and sullies the very spirit of the term to begin with. At a time when divisiveness has taken over the world, one would think re-releasing a movie that celebrates the unlikely friendships, acceptance, and unity, Disney would make a decision that goes completely against these values.
As of now, the petition has received more than 100,000 signatures, but we don't have any word yet on whether Disney is going to budge. Sometimes petitions work with the studio, like with Ralph Breaks the Internet and the insistence to have the model of Tiana made more ethnically accurate. Other times, we have cases like the petition to re-hire James Gunn; over 400,000 signatures received, but no budge from Disney.
It's possible that Disney would remove something like a trademark seeing that the problem is of a culturally sensitive nature, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see how this all goes down in time.
The Lion King is set to release in theaters on July 19, 2019.
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