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Essay about The Racial and Antislavery Message
Also see**Planet of the Apes Comparison to the Terminator saga Essay
Also see**Illogical Plot Elements Essay
In many ways the Planet of the Apes saga is a commentary on race relations in America. The saga uniquely chose three Ape species; the gorillas, the chimpanzees, and the orangutan's to represent the Apes that dominate the world. Rather than one unified group the Apes were a system of subgroups themselves. In Beneath the Planet of the Apes, chimpanzees Cornelius and Zira comment on how the "quota" system had been abandoned long ago. This of course is a reference to affirmative action programs meant to give preferential treatment in employment to minority groups which were in place and looming on the horizon within America at the time. The chimpanzees were pacifists and the war to eradicate mutants in the forbidden zone of the second movie was referred to as "the Gorilla's war" by Zira in Escape from the Planet of the Apes. Zira seems to blame one group, the Gorillas rather than her own society for the destruction of her planet which implies strong racial feelings against gorillas on her part. The Planet of the Apes Saga forces humanity to look at the prejudices, biases, and hatred that have lurked within people in the past and perhaps even in the present. If one assumes that each Ape subgroup represents a subgroup of man himself from the past then just which human group was being commented on in a masked fashion and for what political ends? There are many possiblities including.
1 The Gorillas represent newly liberated slaves and a belief that blacks in America have obtained freedom inspite of inferior intelect and a higher tendency to violence. After study of crime statistics in America by race, white supremists would present just such a possible point.
2 The Chimpanzees represent Japanese Americans who are stereotyped as being smarter than either whites or blacks in American society and who were forcibly imprisoned in America during the second World War. The war protests and pacifist nature of the chimapanzees perhaps reflects Japanese American feelings after the unleashing of the atomic bomb and the Japanese constitution which forbids military forces for agression.
3 The Orangutan's represent white conservative america. The orangautaun's defend religion and oppose evolution and things dangerous to custom and tradition. Perhaps the same can be said of many steotypical white conservative elders.
1 The chimapanzees represent southern white america that has been forced to watch as immigrants and foreign factions take control of culture and country little by little. Ceasar, a chimpanzee and the founder of Ape society knows in the future there is a good chance that his kind, the chimps who lead the revolution for freedom will themselves live as second class citizens. Perhaps this is a hidden analogy to the white founding fathers of America and their progeny in the south after Reconstruction commences following the Civil War. At that point they are powerless to do anything but watch as northerners further delegate powers to blacks and to the north iteself as the group becomes fragmented and afraid.
2 The Orangautaun's represent northern americans who control affairs from afar in Washington, DC. The Orangautaun's rule over chimapanzees with little regard for the voice or concerns of chimpanzees in the Planet of the Apes saga.
3 The Gorillas represent a means to power to control chimapanzees and maintain the new power balance. Blacks make up a disproportionate percentage of professional soldiers in US armies so an Orangautaun government with Gorilla soldiers is not so far fetched as it seems. Perhaps the ideological source of an all Gorilla army lies within the racial makeup of Americas own armed forces which are composed largely of minorities.
Of course there always is the possibility that one may draw no message about race from the Planet of the Apes saga except that it does not matter. After all if three chimpanzees, who were a second class in their own world alone survive destruction to further the rebirth of Ape dominance in the future just what can be said about that? At the very least an anti oppresion message is presented. Apes should not be enslaved as should man not be. Rather or not quotas, affirmative action, or governmental rule from afar is right or not is something the saga perhaps presents for one to ponder. The message which truly one can gather from the saga most clearly is that man is a dangerous beast whose means of self destruction loom on the horizon always. Instead of subdividing man into this group or that, man must be united for whatever aims and purposes he wishes to acheieve. The mutants unite to deliver their brand of religion via an atomic bomb, and the Apes unite inspite of their differences to win their own freedom. The methodology of unity, self restraint, and rational decisions are what set man apart from beasts. Without such things man is no different in essence than the scavaging savages who spend all day playing in fields and eating fruits in the first Planet of the Apes movie.
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