Friday, December 16, 2005

The King and The Kong

King Kong opened yesterday at 9.7 million and that has movie people nervous. It could be a portent, it could be nothing but an irrelevant moment in a march into movie history.

Today I saw three different pieces on the inherent racism in all three versions of the movie. While I think that charges of racism, like most kinds of charges, sometimes suffer from excess and fanaticism, I have to agree that Kong is racist. In what other way can it be viewed but the dangerous culture of blacks despoiling the white virgin (or seeming to at first) and yielding up an iconic monster that must be destroyed by whites defending their honor and safety.

The question is, I suppose, is does this racism have any relevance to the audience. I'd guess not. The audience wants entertainment and from most reviewers, I take it that Kong, despite a rambling first act, is certainly the spectacle people had been hoping for.

I mention this because I saw a few letters that take the movie on as a purely racist tract. But it's hard to imagine any but the most deranged racist sitting in the theater and smirking about the white colonials kidnapping the monster and then destroying it. Yeah, that'll teach them pagans who's boss on this here planet.

What buffers the movie from being something Rudyard Kipling might have written is the relationship between blonde and monster. It's an innocent story for kids and a sweet sad erotic one for grown-ups who know that innocence doesn't stand a chance in our world. As we learn when Kong discovers the Empire State building.

I hope this doesn't become an issue because I think there's slim pickings for any serious debate about race in it. Sometimes a movie is just a movie and inherent white imperialiam aside, Kong is just that--a Saturday afternoon story for fairy tale lovers of every age.

The lager and more pressing question is will the damn thing survive it's shaky opening day and ever make back its enormous cost.


Blogger Elizabeth Foxwell said...

Let's not forget a significant writing credit on King Kong: mystery phenomenon Edgar Wallace (Four Just Men, "The Ringer," etc).

7:26 AM  

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