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King Kong is one weird ape

By Bert Ehrmann

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Fort Wayne Reader


The movie King Kong has been around for 80+ years, has now been remade three times and the original is, rightly so, considered a classic film. However, after the latest remake Kong: Skull Island was announced last year and I went back and rewatched the original movie in preparation for this article I spent some time thinking about the King Kong movies as a whole and came to one uncomfortable fact; basically King Kong is about this giant ape who finds a relatively tiny human woman to be the most attractive thing its ever seen. So much so that he’s willing to wreck and entire city and kill scores of people until he’s able to find his prize. How weird is that?

The 1933 original King Kong as well as the 1976 and 2005 versions follow essentially the same story. The crew of a ship lands at an uncharted and unexplored island where they find a lost civilization as well as a gigantic ape the locals call “Kong.” Things go wrong for the crew when Kong kidnaps a beautiful blonde-haired woman, forcing the crew to venture into the island to rescue her from the clutches of the giant ape. The island contains many dangers and some of the crew are killed but in the end they manage to rescue the girl, subdue Kong, place him on their ship and take him back to New York City. Where, of course, Kong escapes, causes damage and destruction before finding and again kidnapping the beautiful blonde-haired girl, climbing up the tallest building in town before being shot to death by military aircraft. “It was beauty that killed the beast.” The end.

Except there’s the whole thing with Kong’s obsession with that girl.

My question is, why does Kong find that particular woman so attractive/noticeable? So much that on the island he steals her off to his jungle lair and won’t give her up? I suppose there’s an argument to be made that it’s not the girl that Kong likes, it’s that she’s this new and unique “thing” on the island. That he’s never seen a blond-haired woman before and views her as an object he wants. Except that in the movie when Kong’s on the loose in New York he finds another woman who also has blonde-hair but isn’t the right one and tosses her aside until he happens to stumble upon the real blonde before taking her up to the top of the Empire State Building.

To me, Kong’s obsession is just weird. Size wise, it’s almost like some person found a particular mouse they really liked, and it turned out their “like” was more “love” and only this particular mouse would do. And even if this mouse escaped, the person would scour the world looking for this one rodent even though there are similar mice everywhere.

I suppose one could argue too that maybe Kong sees the blonde-haired beauty as a pet? Yet there’s a scene in the movie where Kong literally tries to peal off her clothes. Maybe Kong does this because he’s a monster and doesn’t understand what clothes are? But this scene has such an obvious sexual undertone I’m not sure if could be seen any other way.

And now into all this questionable giant-ape lusting after the blonde-beauties comes this third remake; Kong: Skull Island out March 10. This time the beauty is played by Brie Larson in a more militaristic film that’s set in the 1970s. Here, soldiers in helicopter gunships find more than they bargained for when they begin charting an unexplored island when a truly gigantic ape, something so big that it makes the original 1933 Kong look small, attacks their group and forces everyone go on the run.

My feeling is that any sort of odd ape/girl vibe that might be coursing through the original will be excised for this new more action-originated take on the Kong story, since explosions and machine guns tend to get people into the theaters and not apes trying to take the lead actresses clothes off. Because that’s just weird.

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