The Tragic Humanity of Kong

The Tragic Humanity of Kong
Screenshot:Warner Bros. Pictures

The philosopher Frank Ocean once asked a series of pertinent questions in the hit song, “No Church In the Wild.” It begins, as all philosophical endeavors do with an observation: “human beings in a mob.” Profound. He then leads us through the logical process, rhetorically wondering, “What’s a mob to a king/what’s a king to a God/what’s a God to a non-believer/who don’t believe in anything.” These are questions of power and supremacy which I originally and foolishly, I must admit, attributed to humankind’s search for understanding through religion. But after watching Godzilla vs. Kong, I understand that Frank Ocean was prophesizing the absolute tragedy that would be Hollywood’s misrepresentation of Kong, who is a peaceful environmentalist who also happens to be an enormous gorilla that hates reptiles, because who doesn’t!

As we learned from the most recent Kong and Godzilla films, Kong is a king. Presumably the king of Hollow Earth, like his ancestors, but demoted to the king of Skull Island once Hollow Earth imploded and/or became inaccessible for reasons that are not totally clear. What’s a mob to a king? Nothing, because Kong didn’t like mobs. He did not seek out humans to sow destruction—like SOME creatures I could mention. Instead, the humans sought him out while he was chilling taking showers in waterfalls, as large gorillas are wont to do. In fact, Kong is truly the victim of his own life story in that he has always been innately peaceful yet still somehow at the center of a drama that has nothing to do with him, merely because of his size and species.

Godzilla, with whom Kong is forced to face off, is also a king—but because of his powers and stature amongst the monsters, he is viewed as god-like. It also bears mentioning at this point that while there is no room to argue that Godzilla is king of the monsters, Kong is not a monster and should not be beholden to Godzilla’s rule. What’s a king to a God? An enemy, apparently. Godzilla’s ego is so fragile that he cannot stand a challenger, even one that is set up as a foe against his will. This is the premise for Godzilla vs. Kong, a movie that will clearly sweep all categories at the next Oscars.

But what exactly is a God to a non-believer who doesn’t believe in anything? This is where we really have to analyze Kong as a creature, because although the film’s fictitious, Titan-obsessed companies Monarch and Apex would have viewers believe that gigantic dickhead lizards who breathe underwater and oversized gorillas have been feuding for centuries in a battle for supremacy over regular earth and Hollow Earth, I, a Kong truther, beg to differ!

Godzilla is like Regina George. He just wants to be in charge of absolutely everything. Kong, on the other hand, is a giant gorilla and gorillas are highly intelligent peaceful animals that will only fuck you up if they feel threatened. Godzilla vs. Kong explores this side of Kong in its portrayal of Kong’s relationship with a young deaf girl and his proficiency in ASL (or GSL?). It is also worth mentioning that Kong’s interactions with Godzilla were entirely the fault of human beings who were stupid enough to transport Kong on a goddamn boat. Godzilla LIVES IN THE WATER YOU ABSOLUTE WEIRDOS.

The distressing part about Kong’s portrayal in this and other films is the lack of empathy afforded his character. The title of “king” is an unbearable weight foisted upon Kong’s shoulders by people and other titans who simply never took the time to get to know him. And yet instead of focusing on Kong’s inner turmoil fueled by his outward search for a home and some peace and quiet, we see Kong as a destroyer of cities and killer of human beings who get absolutely no screen time. Kong is not concerned with Godzilla, a self-absorbed overgrown iguana that may as well be the mythical Kraken for all the time he spends underwater.

Kong is concerned with conservation. He wants a place where strange creatures like himself can thrive and exist in the natural hunter-gatherer/predator-prey order that the ancient beings intended when they sent the Titans to Earth. And Hollow Earth. If none of this makes sense, then congratulations, it means you’ve watched and fully grasp Godzilla vs. Kong.

Kong just wants to be left alone and human beings need to do that. Yes, he is fascinating and worth study, but the toll on fictitious human life has become too much. Millions of people probably died when Kong and Godzilla wrestled in the middle of the Hong Kong skyline and it all could have been avoided if all the theoretical scientists in the film just, I don’t know, studied real science or something like that. Leave Kong alone! Godzilla, on the other hand, can go fuck himself with one of his radioactive back spikes.

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