Back Seminari amb Camille Lavoix: "Re(claiming) the lion’s share. In search of reality and diversity in the representation of lions"
Seminari amb Camille Lavoix: "Re(claiming) the lion’s share. In search of reality and diversity in the representation of lions"
Abstract: How have lions been depicted in western and hegemonic audiovisual representations in the last 100 years? My main hypothesis is that it is still a (neo)colonial construct, far from the “reality” that lion bodies have been factually experiencing. After a deep dive in archives, documentary databanks, YouTube, etc., the homogenous results show a lack of diversity regarding lions’ representations. One of the findings is that real lions are very much affected by the stereotypical portrayal of fictional ones. To illustrate this point, I probe a media report by local Arizona TV in the safari-theme park Out of Africa, paying attention to the cuddling and hugging of lions, treated like pets. Indeed, such scenes are reminiscent of colonial images of Joy Adamson hugging Elsa, “her” adopted lion in the bestseller Born Free (1960) whose success was largely due to the dozens of photographs of Elsa and Joy. Elsa was orphaned after George Adamson killed her mother in “self-defense”, another topos observed in early representations of lions as constantly threatening humans. Finally, I turn to recent representations of lions in Sir David Attenborough’s landmark series asking what their ethical implications are. Taking cues from Brett Mills’s statement that “it is important to place a programme such as Planet Earth within the broadcasting system that produced and distributes it” (2015), I emphasize how lions have been and are consistently depicted by Anglophones, in particular English conservation celebrity Attenborough (Graham Huggan). Ultimately, such results call for more diverse representations of lions to emerge (Emma Marris), outside of “pastoral idylls” or “worlds in danger” (James Secord).