Horny On Mane: Why Are We All So Thirsty For Simba?

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Here’s some bad news for anyone who had a crush on a certain Disney character growing up: the new Simba is not hot. 

Not like the original Simba was, at least. 

Because, you know, he’s now a literal lion, and not remotely sexy. As opposed to being a cartoon lion of the very sexy variety. 

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Don’t @ me, you know it’s true. Cartoon Simba was hot. He had that mane that was reminiscent of the perfect, floppy dream boy hair of the ‘90s. That cheeky smile, that flirty eyebrow raise…not to mention the voice of Matthew Broderick at his Ferris Bueller best.

And Simba isn’t the only Disney animal worthy of thirst status. He’s not even the hottest. That title belongs to Robin Hood, a fox on every level. And don’t even get me started on the actual human cartoon guys, most of whom Can Get It. 

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But what is it about these cartoons – and especially the animals – that captures our young hearts and, uh, maybe even other parts of ourselves?

The answer is quite simple: they were drawn hot. Literally, they were designed to be attractive to us. Don’t just take my word for it: Dr Lauren Rosewarne, a senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne and the author of Sex and Sexuality in Modern Screen Remakes – a.k.a. the expert on this shit – says it’s “perfectly normal” to be drawn to cartoon characters.

“The animation studio business model is reliant on our interest and attraction to their characters,” Dr Rosewarne explains. “Such characters are often presented as just slightly older and attractive in a non-threatening way.”

“Of course, there are also characters that are deliberately presented as sexy. Be it via gender stereotyping regarding physique – think of the big, strong princes and heroes in cartoons, or the slender, long-haired princess – such characters are often drawn in ways that take idealised versions of the male/female physique and amplify them.”

I can hear what you’re thinking. Like, that’s great for explaining our extreme thirst for Prince Eric or Dimitri from Anastasia or the smouldering Flynn Rider or even Gaston, if that’s what floats your boat.

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But, uh, what about the animal element? 

Turns out it’s not our fault – they’re just drawn hot too!

“When a character that is putatively an animal speaks with a sexy voice and human physical elements (curved hips/cleavage/biceps etc), the producer is presenting a sexualised animal to the audience – none of this is an accident,” Dr Rosewarne says. “For some audiences, this presentation won’t be particularly meaningful, in others it’s vaguely attractive, and for others… the display will be distinctly arousing. Producers know this and cash in on it.”

That’s the thing about these cartoons – and why the “live-action” remake of The Lion King doesn’t work so well – the more human these characters feel, the more we connect with them. Whether that results in a crush or not depends on your thirst levels (personally, my own have been high from a very young age). But regardless, the success of the narrative depends on you identifying with the characters in some way. 

“Simba offers a number of entry points for viewers to find him attractive,” says Dr Rosewarne. “We encounter him at different junctures across his life course, thus appealing to audiences in different ways. Initially blamed and ostracised, for example, he’s a wounded character…When he gets older – muscular, more adventurous – he potentially offers a bad boy, and then the hero appeal that some audiences will be drawn to.”

At the end of the day, having the hots for Simba doesn’t make you a furry. It just makes you a sucker for Disney’s plans to take all your money. 

Hakuna Matata, am I right?