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.

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Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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4 Responses to Special effects masked King Kong’s erection

  1. Avatar basketball great Julius Erving says:

    I totally agree. I had excused Peter Jackson’s previous films’ lack of balls because they were based on children’s books. But to take the romance out of one of history’s greatest love stories is truly a shame. Thank you, Eric, for standing up.

  2. Avatar Dave says:

    male violent > malevolent

  3. Avatar nokkon says:

    I couldn’t disagree more: having sex and sexuality in every (even adult) movie grows old so fast. I think it tells volumes about your taste to claim a movie is boring without it having sexual innuendo. If you enjoy porn so much, why bother watching other movies?

    I thought the mutual affection Watts’ character and Kong have for eachother was perfect as it was, and doesn’t really need humongous ape dicks or sexual molestation of any kind.

  4. Brother Jonah Brother Jonah says:

    for all it’s worth, there was a penthouse or maybe hustler, one of those non-literature mags we once or maybe twice back in the 70s when a king kong remake was big on the screen, so they made a porn out of it, using a gorilla doll or some dude in a gorilla costume, and a barbie doll. And the offending member was rendered as bigger than barbie. Foolish, surely. But the publisher, either Flynt or Guccione, did a little known factoid which I can’t deny or verify, that if a scaled up gorilla existed at 40 feet tall, he would only have an erection of a paltry 5 or 6 inches.

    As I mentioned, that was sourced from a porn magazine published by somebody who was crazy. Or very smart or both. I assume that most people wouldn’t have actually read the captions. But I assume a lot of things so that’s not valid evidence. Somewhat around the time of the centennial of the battle of little bighorn, penthouse went with a custom
    centerfold. Said “in honor of the Native victory in July of 1876, we commissioned a great painting depicting the scene according to the final words of Lt Col. Custer’s last words”

    when you folded out the scene it was a bunch of cavalry soldiers on a ridge looking down at a large plain filled with Natives in various types of coitus and the caption “Look at all those fucking Indians”.

    A year later plus a couple of months there was one with Colonel Tom standing beside a big cabinet and Elvis, rotted, falling apart and strung up like a puppet with a sign to the side saying “Dead, in Person, The King! See him jerk to all your favorite hits!” and the caption “This goes to show that no son-of-a-bitch gets out of a contract with the Colonel!”

    I would think of it, years later and start laughing with no obvious reason. And now, another King Kong movie. Mayhaps this time they’ll rewrite the ending where he’s brought out on a cross, breaks away from it and ascends to heaven or just the top of a really big building that has the word “Empire” on a big sign. The imagery man, the imagery…

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