Although I am a big Jack Black fan, I refuse to see the new remake of King Kong. I made this decision a few weeks ago after I first saw a poster for the movie with a close-up of Kong&rsquo;s face. The ape looked an awful lot like my pug Louie. They both share the same loveable but domineering nature and pushed in nose.
I wouldn&rsquo;t have given any of this a second thought except that the picture keeps coming up in conversation. The film&rsquo;s plot about a giant ape that falls hard for a blonde babe and dies on the Empire State Building in a barrage of aerial machine gun fire began to seriously irk me. I&rsquo;m all for stories about beauty and the beast and love gone wrong. Kong&rsquo;s obsession with his girl is far more interesting than any traditional boy-meets girl plotline, but by now the ape deserves more respect.
Kong is a true force of nature hailing from an obscure corner of the Pacific called Skull Island, where the bravest locals know better than to set foot. He is feared, respected and wild and therein lies the most frustrating aspect of this story. I&rsquo;m not saying that Kong should destroy New York and take his trophy bride back to the jungle. Nor do I want to see a Born Free style ending with the ape on Prozac, released in the wild as everybody wipes the tears from their eyes. We need to &lsquo;fess up. It&rsquo;s time to admit our human frailty in the face of nature&rsquo;s fury. The monkey lives and we have to learn to live with him.
Our tradition in the west has long been to run roughshod over nature. Americans have embraced this ethos from the wholesale slaughter of the Great Plains buffalo to the proliferation of Hummers. Our inflated sense of entitlement encourages us to play now and pay later, especially since we still refuse to clean up our own mess. Let someone else figure out how to close the hole in the ozone and find somebody else&rsquo;s kids to fight for cheap oil.
Business as usual doesn&rsquo;t work anymore. The events of the last year have proven that nature is kicking our butts (whether in the form of wind, water, fire or a monster ape). A record number of hurricanes battered the Gulf Coast and Caribbean while the tsunami killed over 200,000 (not to mention the usual death and destruction from mudslides, tornados and earthquakes). While natural disasters are part of life, the real tragedy is our lack of preparedness and concern for the victims. Living with nature not only means conservation, which may actually reduce the devastating effects of climate change, but also the acknowledgment that we need to devote resources to protecting ourselves from these disasters. FEMA&rsquo;s inept response to Katrina was superseded by the unconscionable lack of a tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean. It is worth noting that a comprehensive tsunami warning system has existed along the Pacific coasts of the U. S. and Japan for decades.
Changing the ending of a movie is not going to change public policy. But movies do raise public consciousness. King Kong&rsquo;s defeat furthers the notion that we are the good guys and nature is the enemy that ultimately must be defeated. Instead I&rsquo;d like Kong to break his chains, stomp on a fleet of Hummers and demolish the penthouse floor of Trump Tower rather than being picked off the Empire State Building once again like a tin duck in a shooting gallery. I want the wise men and women among us to prevail, stop the madness and call a truce before its too late. But I leave those details to the screenwriters who get paid the big bucks for such original ideas. The time has finally come for the monkey to get his due. He&rsquo;s not a bad guy at heart and as the SUV&rsquo;s smolder in the distance maybe someone like Mayor Bloomberg can turn to the ape and say, &ldquo;Kong, you&rsquo;re doing a heck of a job.&rdquo;