Saturday, February 11, 2006

An Open Letter to Peter Jackson:

Will you please stop making racist, sexist movies? Please, I implore you. After Lord of the Rings people thought I was crazy even though I took the time to explain to them that you were probably not intentionally making all the evil people into people who looked like they were either from Africa/Southeast Asia. Please, how could you look at the outfits you dressed the 'oliphants' in an not think India? Seriously, I know that elephants are only found in India and Africa, but seriously this was supposed to be a work of fantasy, and not where in the book series did I see it saying that everyone must be white. (Even though Tolkien himself was racist and sexist, YOU should have a better understanding of race and gender oppression by living in this time.) I do have issues with Tolkien's "black men of the south," but you my dear, you are remaking the stories and reinterpreting them. Yes, I was happy that you made Galadriel's part larger and made her more powerful, but here's what I cannot forgive: you took the ONE strong female character in the books and turned her into a weak woman who could do nothing but pine over Aragorn. WTF! She never would have been that scared in battle and she wouldn't have followed Aragorn around like a sick puppy. That part made me exclaim out loud (as did your portrayal of the bad people. Seriously, the other theatre goers HATED me, but if you would stop putting such glaringly racist and sexist things in your movies I would stop yelling at the screen. I promise.) I explained to people that I knew it was your white male priviledge and that you never had to look at these things, but I cannot forgive you as you continue to make racist/sexist movies!!!! Your ignorance must end now. You have to start looking into critical gender and race theory, stat. (For ore info on your rampant racism in the LOtR trilogy I'll send you here. See, I'm not the only one disgusted by your antics. It would do you good to STOP NOW.

But I'm here to talk to you about King Kong. It's what pushed me over the edge. I know that you used Maoris for your tribespeople, and I also know that you darkened your skin tone. With your record I have to ask, what, not black enough for you? If they were one of the myriad of colours in between did you think that they would be misconstrued as possibly human? You could make a bunch of white people as nonhuman as you made the natives you know. (I almost threw up and the movie was paused as I flew into a rage over your caricatured stereotype of native peoples. When I didn't think it could possibly get any worse it did.) I don't think that it was possible to portray them as any less human. I know that you know it's not just me. I suggest you readAngry Black Bitch takes on racism in King Kong. Also,
The Washington Post's Stephen Hunter observed, "It remains a parable of exploitation, cultural self-importance, the arrogance of the West, all issues that were obvious in the original but unexamined; they remain unexamined here, if more vivid."
I fear that this is an "oversight" that you have made one too many times. So it's a remake, but one that in this day and age should scream at you that it is not on the level. In the '30s racism wasn't talked about as much as today, so you should have no excuse, especially coming from NZ where there is a whole group of people that suffer from it and battle it throughout your lifetime. (Ahem, if you are unaware of the Maoris, then you are more ignorant then I thought.) The natives were barely human, and with a critical take on the original King Kong your parodied version of them in the Broadway show would have forced people to examine the marked racism of the movie. (Yes I understand that there is a black man seen as a hero/father figure to one of the crew mates, but of course he gets killed.)

On to the sexism. Seriously, you changed it and made Ann Darrow not only talented, but extremely funny. This started out as a beautiful change from the original, and it made me actually hopeful that you may have changed your ways of corrupting strong female characters into wimpy women pining away after men. In fact it was her talent and her humour that attracted Driscoll in the first place. No, I see I was wrong again. Not only are you pedestalizing the white woman above all the native women (anyone else notice how Kong just killed all the others, but not Ann. Now one may argue that it's because of her charm, and I would like to agree, but given the context of the rest of the movie I cannot see this as anything else. Looked good, but you ruined it with the rest of your movie.) I cannot begin to recount all the awful ways in which Ann changes from that smart ultra-talented woman from the beginning of the movie, but I think the end sums it up very well: with the death of Kong, something I was crying over before it even happened (yes I knew the ending), she is soothed by the appearance of Driscoll, her knight in shining armour that rescued her from the evil ape in the beginning and who rescues her and makes everything ok in the end. Because a man who doesn't support you makes everything ok! Right! Better go get a man so that the patriarchy stops dead in its tracks. If I had been dear Ann I would not have run into his arms. Yes in a time of mourning sometimes you like to be comforted, but he did not help when she tried to stop them from nabbing Kong, and even held her back. This to me would be seen at that time as the betrayal that it truly was, but yet again the love interest saves her from her foolish womanly ways. That to me is a ridiculous concoction of how Hollywood needs to create (a wholly unbelievable) love story.

Is it too much to ask that you (or someone) create a remake of Kong that forsakes the racist and sexist stereotypes, and yes even the stereotypes of women from the '30s, in order to show how truly evil and despicable people are, exploiting whatever they can for money which ultimately ends in the destruction of that thing with no consequence to themselves? (And yes, that is why I always cry at Kong.)

Please change your ways. Your movie started out with such promise. A remake! I thought to myself. Maybe Jackson will have to take a look at the racism and sexism ingrained in the story because it's so blatantly obvious (one can say that about LOtR too, but one can also argue that it would change the plot too much, blah blah. I don't buy that for one second, but I've moved on, we're talking about your latest disaster now), but you didn't, or won't. In this day and age I cannot accept that you cannot see these horrible stereotypes for what they are. You need to make a good nonracist, nonsexist epic now to atone for your horrendous mistakes. PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AND HUMANITY STOP IT ALL READY!!!! Or else I may explode from all the rage that your movies arouse in me.

Oh and PS if you ever shoot a movie with Adrian Brody again you need to show more of his beautiful hands. (I got a hand thing, I'm aware of it.)


Joida said...

Agreed, agreed, and agreed. Of course, you know, it's the man who's the real hero. The woman, well, she's just a silly innocent girl running wild (interesting how she doesn't seem to care about the fact that Kong killed like a dozen people). You forgot to mention the Chinese guy. Talk about inappropriate, outdated stereotypes! Good grief! Is it the 21st century, or is my calender a century ahead?

lost clown said...

Oh, I did forget about him. Ugh, that movie gets worse the more I think about it.

(I don't care that Kong killed people, but then again I like animals more then people, and think that people should have left Kong the fuck alone. Deserved. He was no murderer, they were shooting at him. Jerks)

Laura said...

The trailer for Kong made me so mad that i didn't even bother going to see it - ooo look at the nasty evil wild black people and their vicious primitive ways, but - hoorah! - the whities are here to sort them out, yay, what heroes! Ahhh and the poor sobbing girlie who can't defend herself - bless her - at least she's got that big strong man to look after her...*blergh*

the nut said...

I wasn't a fan of any of the other Kong's so I didn't worry about going to see this one. That and it's 3 hours long.

I had issues with LOTR, too, but overall they were outstanding and done better than Tolkien's story, fer sure. I didn't mind wasting 4 hours out of my life for those movies.

And I definitely have a hand fetish, too. I love long spindly fingers that have been taken care of. :) I am not, however, a fan of guy feet.

lost clown said...

Well Tolkien himself was racist/sexist, but you can argue that about King Kong (and I have), but I thought the whole idea of a remake was that it was supposed to be updated, not just the same old shit shot back out at us. Peter Jackson makes my head want to explode all over everything.

Biting Beaver said...

Damn LC,

You brought the glaring errors of my love of Tolkein and the films to light. *sigh* That movie was one concession I made to the Patriarchy, even though while Dim and I were watching it we noted that Saruman's orcs were all black. When they were sacking the village and the camera panned back it looked eerily similar to a gang of black men destroying a city. *sigh*

It would have been nice to have seen Elves of color in both Rivendell and Lothlorian.

And yes, the men of the east were clearly Indian.

It's a shame, really, because he took liberties with all sorts of areas of the plotlines (Faramir comes first to mind) but didn't take any liberties with the racist nature of the orginal work.

As for Aeowyn (damn I think I did the spelling right but I'm not sure) No, she didn't even act frightened in the book and it did piss me off that one of the only female characters that Tolkein put in who was strong and tough was portrayed as weak and flighty.

In the book she appeared to have no fear when facing the Witch-King but tranlated onto the big screen we have her crawling and trembling and terrified. It was frustrating to see that.

Unfortunately though you've made me think about it and it was one of the deals I made with the Patriarchy because I'm such a fan of the original work *grin*

lost clown said...

Hey it's ok. there are things I like, but I just make sure that I deconstruct them. I've been thinking about doing that for the TV show I like Numb3rs. In fact, I have to do that or else I won't be able to watch it anymore.

You're lucky you didn't see it in teh theatre with me. I was cursing up a storm everytime the racist/sexist things came up (the third movie was not the first to see in the theatres, the whole asian/african bad men thing and the aeowyn (i don't know the spelling either) thing made me curse out loud, several times.