Thoughts on two very different films

This post, and the next one I’m about to write, have been lingering for days. I feel like I’m posting all sorts of outdatedness, due to the busyness of life right now. Ah, well.

King Kong
It was (white) beauty killed the (black) beast…?

So, Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame has remade King Kong, as most of you probably know. And it’s been getting all sorts of rave reviews, or at least, most of the reviews that I’ve caught have been raving.

But, ever since I first heard about the film, I’ve been a little nervous. I’d never even seen the original King Kong in its entirety, but what I knew of it was enough to inspire some worries. Let’s see… a big, dark, savage ape falls in love with an extremely white woman, wreaks havoc left and right, and is taken down in the end? Hmm… do I smell a thinly-veiled, dubious racial subtext here?

Apparently, others agree, both about the racial subtext of the original and the carrying on of the tradition in Jackson’s remake. From the Village Voice review by J. Hoberman:

Jackson doesn’t really solve King Kong’s “native” problem—nor can he. The original was as much a symptom as a movie—the most extravagant cinematic expression of white supremacy made in America since The Birth of a Nation and perhaps the most delirious imperialist fantasy ever. Lose the spectacle of the white woman at the mercy of a savage horde and you lose the movie, although in keeping with Skull Island’s decor, Jackson recasts the indigenous people as a mob of slavering aboriginal zombie orcs.

So, my question is: come on, Peter Jackson. I love the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but every time I see your undeniably racialized depictions of Uruk-Hai and Haradrim, I kind of hate myself for loving it. What’s with your penchant for taking old, racist source material and retaining the worst of it? I understand and appreciate being true to the text, but does truth to the text trump being a wee bit less fucked up, especially when, by now, we should know better than Tolkien and the makers of the original King Kong?

Luckily for me, whereas I have a sustained love for and addiction to the LOTR movies despite the racial fuckedupedness, I have absolutely no interest in sitting through the 3-hour long tragic romance between a giant ape and a white girl.

Now, on to a tragic romance that I was very happy to sit through, and will most certainly purchase when it comes out on DVD: Brokeback Mountain.

the hottest gay cowboys in the world

I loved it. It was amazing and heartbreaking and beautifully shot. And, on top of all of that, it did not disappoint on the hotness factor. I love me some Jake Gyllenhaal, but Heath Ledger surprised the hell out of me with his excellent acting. I won’t say more so as not to spoil it for those of you who have not gotten to see it, but I will recommend that you do get to seeing it ASAP.

2 Responses to “Thoughts on two very different films”

  1. 1 brownfemipower

    thanks for posting that about king kong…I remember seeing the 80’s version as a kid and being grossed out because even then, i understood that the monkey was in love with the white woman and we’re supposed to feel sad because the monkey can never consumate true love with the “perfect beauty”? i’ve heard that Jackson has tried to address some of these concerns by making the monkey and the girl “friends” instead of star crossed lovers, but still–monkeys are chasing white women for their beauty, what the hell is that supposed to mean for brown men, much less brown women??? we aren’t even good enough for monkeys???

  2. 2 Jack

    I think I saw parts of the original when I was a kid, and had no analysis of it – I just thought it was weird and boring. Now I think the whole thing is weird, boring, and fucked up. And right on on your assessment of the implications for brown women and men.

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