Tag Archives: King Kong

A Freudian mixed metaphor for the GOP

elephant gorillaI’ve read it several times now, the eight-hundred pound gorilla in the room. This would seem to confuse 1) the proverbial 600-900 lb primate (gorillas not named Kong seldom excede 400 lbs) who outclasses everyone else in size and power, for 2) the pachyderm in the room whose relative mass overwhelms our capacity to ignore it, though we try.
 
In this corporate age of Darwinian monopolies, maybe the de facto brutality of alpha-male corporate monopoly has become something the corporate media mouthpieces won’t let us talk about. There’s an elephant in the room, and the three hundred pound gorilla won’t let us talk about it.
 
The gorilla is the elephant is the new metaphor for the GOP.

King’s missing dong, episode 1

Time Magazine characterizes King Kong’s enthousiasmOkay, I admit that’s my own headline. There was indeed no trace of a King dong, but neither was there lust, nor anything more than a communication barrier overcome by physical clowning. A young white lass with Vaudeville chops was able to cajole the mighty Kong where scores of unfortunate black maidens had failed.
 
But really the special effects in the latest King Kong were amazing.

With special effects the filmmakers were able to create a giant gorilla who went ape at the sound of tom-toms summoning him to dine on a mouse-sized snack.

Special effects recreated superstitious black peoples who subsisted on the craggy coast of Skull Island, separating themselves from the island’s vegetation to live behind great fortifications and beneath countless pointy sticks on which were impaled human sacrificees.

Special effects produced dinosaurs also very keen to fight over what would be a tiny human morsel, willing to discard bigger kill for the smaller bird in the bush, even gnash away at a rocky surface trying to snatch said bony morsel.

To another extreme, special effects created bats which prey on animals larger than insects, and they stalk their target, hanging upside down each time a bit closer.

Convenient for the slow shutter rate of film projectors, these bats fly with the awkwardness of pterodactyls, the beating of their wings visible to human eyes. Lucky for our heroes who escape by holding on to the wing of a bat, while he flies with the other. A feat clearly accomplished only through special effects.

Special effects depict a world plainly ignorant of what some know as the food chain. The filmmakers can adhere to the laws of gravity, sort of, and whichever laws of physics can be illustrated, but they can’t grasp the food chain or that animals kill to eat, they do not maraud mercilessly.

By depicting nature as malevolent, we are expressing the highest disrespect for what really have become our wards. Like depicting Jesus with a machine gun for example. It might be funny, but it would be pretty undeserved.

But there’s more. Special effects produced stampedes both human and Jurassic, from which few casualties are seen. Men are able to keep pace beneath Brontosaurus legs to make the Spaniards who run with the bulls every year in Pamplona look like wusses.

And in the end you have Kong flinging blond lasses left and right, you have an entire opera house audience stampede to the exits with nary a body left behind.

In fact, given Peter Jackson’s fondness for gross-out scenes like the close-up of the carnivorous worm devouring a man head first, it seems strange that they cranked back the special effects for Kong’s final splat unto street level from the Empire State building. Kong’s body at rest on the street is shown not one bit like a sack empty of its potatoes, the usual sudden end to a 100 story fall.

David Letterman fans might have hoped to see Kong burst like a watermelon fallen from a great height, but special effects intervened.

And so the special effects try to approximate mechanical consequences, but ignore the organic, what used to be the common knowledge of life.

While this might suit the lower educated of today’s movie audience, Peter Jackson certainly does not limit himself to that denominator. In an early scene he risks boring that crowd with three interminable inside jokes: the actress they had wanted to cast for this adventure, “Fay,” was already doing an “RKO” picture for that damned “Cooper.” Rocky Horror Picture Show fans would get those references, but so what? Why not throw some bones to zoology majors and enlighten everyone.

The special effects in King Kong trade not merely in the currency of the implausible or improbable or impossible, they perpetuate the currency of ignorance with which people do great evil to nature and the environment and other cultures, particularly indigenous ones.

This film plays with lots of movie land conventions, but to an audience that is less privy to the inside references and more prone to base human reactions to the demonized stereotypes.

Special effects masked King Kong’s erection

When I came across the headline MIRACULOUS SPECIAL EFFECTS MASK KING KONG’S MIGHTY MEMBER I thought, that explains a lot.
 
Virginal maidenHollywood convention:
Innocent white maiden
displayed for the taking
against her will
by large beast.

Promotional posters for Peter Jackson’s KING KONG remake show a Naomi Watts, even fully dressed looking every inch desabiller, facing an admiring Kong looking every missing inch a eunuch. What’s up with that?

What is Kong’s interest in his little friend supposed to be about in the first place? I don’t know, is Naomi the mouse who removed his thorn? Is she like KOKO’s kitten? Is she simply an aesthetic beauty with which Kong is so enthralled he must possess her? (Would art-loving in itself be necessarily platonic? I don’t know, can someone pay 58 million dollars for a Van Gogh and not masturbate to it?)

If this primate is in fact infatuated, even if he knows he can’t copulate with his tiny Fay Wray, it would seem only primal that were he to set his petite ami down anywhere to gaze at her, it would not be atop his hand.

And so there it is, the film is about fluff. There is no Mrs. Kong, there are no Kong hormones, there is nothing in Peter Jackson’s Kong world, like the Middle Earth trilogy before it, that has anything to do with sex, with the sexes, with what life is about. It’s like a film about race cars without wheels, not going anywhere useful.

You may tell me that I’ve missed the point, you may ask what do I think Fay Wray is screaming at, you may say that King Kong is sex, but I’ll tell he is not. The Empire State Building may be about sex, but having a hairy ape climbing to the tip of it is not about sex, with a partner at least. And what about all the dinosaurs for God’s sake! (If you think I’m a kill-joy, I’ll tell you that if the part of the virginal maiden had been played by BENJI, I would not have an issue.)

So this is a tale for children, western children, who needn’t grasp a sense of the real world until they are sensibly grown apparently. But there cannot be much good in perpetuating children’s stories to adults.

The problem with storytelling in modern times is bigger than Kong’s erectile disfunction. From today’s Saturday morning cartoons to the typical Hollywood blockbuster, there’s a distinct lack of telling any actual story. There’s an adventure usually, a road story at best, but never anymore a transformation or a lesson or something which an audience could take home with them to illuminate their own life experience.

And not only is there a lack of lesson or insight, there’s deliberate disinformation.

A not very profound example might be Hollywood’s interesting take on how to shoot a gun. Every gang banger has learned from the movies that a handgun is fired sideways, just as you would throw down a gang gesture. A hand extended straight out looks like you’re wanting a handshake, putting your elbow out to the side projects a dancer’s ambivalence of gravity, thus attitude.

Doubtless a gun held sideways is more attractive to film, you can get more of the actor’s face in the shot, but it’s impossible to aim a gun that way. Weight, recoil, even the gunsight conspire against you.

A simply nefarious example of movieland disinformation is sexless male aggression. When Wes Craven makes a film like LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, or Sam Peckinpaw makes STRAW DOGS, or Stanley Kubric makes A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, community leaders are outraged, and those filmmakers are vilified!

But the studios are all strangely comfortable with American horror villains like Freddy Krueger of HALLOWEEN and Jason of FRIDAY THE 13TH, both on fruitless psychotic rampages. Even SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE features an intruder bent on killing, not raping the girls. Has there ever been a serial killer who was not motivated by sex, however disfunctional? Hannibal Lecter exudes all of the sadism of a believable predator, without any of the biology. Vampires used to represent sexual malevolence, back when there was just Dracula. Now vampires abound but they’re all zombies.

Am I intending to say that I wish American horror films were more pornographic? Absolutely! The violence is pornographic, why not throw in the sex? Does this exclude children from being able to watch? Certainly!

But I mention these horror films chiefly as examples of villainy depicted out of context. Villainy abounds in the real world, much of it disguised. Villainy abounds in the movies, and usually without a human face. It’s often mega-maniacal or psychotic, far removed from the reality of despotic patriarchs. This is one reason perhaps why President Bush finds it an easy sell to describe terrorists as simply evil-doers. Few in his audience seem to question that terrorists might have any plenty obvious motivions.

Why not describe a real motive or two in the movies? Maybe the world’s 800 pound gorillas don’t want to offer too many clues lest their real world villainies be rooted out. A culture informed about sexual aggression might better understand and respond to problems of gender violence, human trafficking, war atrocity and systemic abuse.

In truth, Shakespeare pioneered the archetype of the faceless villain with Iago, whose plotting against OTHELLO seemed all the more evil because Iago had no discernible motive. But Shakespeare’s devices highlighted his insight into humanity. Hollywood offers not even artifice. Its fables are just plain dumb.

Not that it is terribly brilliant to worry that Peter Jackson’s KING KONG misrepresents what gorillas have in mind with minuscule waifs. The marked absence here of King Kong’s genitalia may not be the most egregious case of cinema-verité violé, but I have to say I’m curious that it may have been pretty big.