Friday, August 5, 2011

My Problem with the Planet of the Apes Trailer

Ok, let’s say, as a result of a scientific experiment gone array, some monkey becomes super intelligent, (monkeys are apt to do that). And let’s say this particular monkey decides to raise an army of super ape warriors to conquer the human race. That’s fine, happens all the time. I’ll even give you that he probably could get his grubby little hands on some guns. Sure, you can’t buy a gun without a background check but a smart gorilla could probably go to a gun show. As long as he disguises himself wearing jeans and a trucker’s cap and he promises that the guns are only for his personal home collection. The dealers there would give him all the machine guns he wants…no background checks or cooling off period.


My real problem with this trailer is this. Where did all the monkeys come from? If the laboratory was in, say, the heart of New York and an intelligent chimp was able to free every great ape in the tri-state area, what would that be - like seven monkeys?

The other problem I have with this movie is that this story about how the apes take over the world completely kills the message of the original movie. The original Planet of the Apes was one of the films that I chose for my list of Ten Great Humanist Movies. That article appears in the July/August issue of the Humanist. The article was supposed to be positive, so all the reasons I give for choosing that movie are all sunshine and puppy dog tails. The reasons I didn’t include in the article, were all the negative things the original movie said about the human race. Sure, we are rooting for Charlton Heston as he runs from Dr Zaius, but consider the beginning of the film and the many rants Chuck does about how horrible the Human race is. And consider one of the verses from Dr Zaius sacred scrolls,

Beware the beast man, for he is the devil's pawn. Alone among God's primates, he kills for sport, or lust, or greed. Yeah, he will murder his brother to possess his brother's land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert out of his home, and yours.


I’m a Humanist, but being a Humanist doesn’t just mean you’re a cheerleader for the human race. It’s not “Up With People.” Humanists are also realists. We know that people are capable of great evil as well as good. At the end of the original Planet of the Apes I didn’t think that the apes had anything to do with the downfall of man. Unlike this new movie, I didn’t think it was “us against them.” I felt that we had done it to ourselves. The apes had just come along afterwards and filled the void left by our own self-destruction. The original movie wasn’t another horror story about make believe Frankenstein monsters that looked like monkeys. The original movie’s power was in its precautionary message about us - human beings. The tagline of the movie poster was a reminder. “Somewhere in the universe, there must be something better than man.” It’s not about what we do to the monkeys. It’s about what we do to each other.

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