Peter Jackson‘s "King Kong" raises some old unhappiness about what that whole ape/woman relationship is supposed to be mean, exactly. Kwame McKenzie at the London Times brings up concerns dating back to the first "King Kong": "The story feeds into all the colonial hysteria about black hyper-sexuality. This imagery has a long history and is difficult to shift." While McKenzie comes out of the film pleasantly surprised by Jackson’s reinvention of the relationship between Kong and Anne Darrow, there’s still a few things he’s unhappy with:
If I had not been at a premier with my transfixed son I would have been out of the door soon after the wide eyed, homicidal, half dressed, blacker than black natives of Skull Island started cavorting one hour in…I could not help but feel that if Jackson had put as much thought into the rest of the racial imagery as he did into the relationship between Kong and Darrow this could have gone down as a much less offensive film. As it is it leaves a bitter sweet taste in my mouth and a complex discussion on negative stereotypes that I have had to have with my son.
At the end of the article are wide-ranging reactions from readers.
Joshuah Bearman at LA Weekly covers some similar ground, sans the race issue. Which would leave the sex. (When we launched this blog, we never dreamed we’d be discussing bestiality twice in one week. We thought, oh, every other week, tops.). He picks John Guillermin‘s regretted-by-many 1976 remake as the most sexualized of the three "Kong" incarnations, but finds this latest version of the giant ape the most emotionally resonant: "Jackson’s Kong is so expressive that he elicits the most sympathy of any beast in cinema history."
And at Slate, Meghan O’Rourke has her own essay on the different angles on the woman/ape relationship presented by the three films, and Jackson’s updating of the original’s sexual politics.