I watched King Kong (1933) today; an old favorite. No need to bother with the mediocre remakes. Why try to imitate or improve on a mythic original? I won’t comment on the sexual subtext, or the racial (barely sub)text of the film. Let me just say that I still react to its magical horror with the same delight as when I was six or seven years old and first saw it. It has all the cliches, before they were cliches – pure!
But what struck me today as well was the way in which it is a tale of our headlong heedless stupid destructive capitalist consumerism long before it was common to take such satirical and critical positions in the movies. Elon Musk is buying Twitter, for 45 billion dollars, so that he, stable genius that he is, can save free speech for us. His story, and that of the Facebook founders, and other Silicone brained tycoons as well, remind me of Denham.
Carl Denham sails to Skull Island, provokes the natives and Kong, leaves behind devastated villages and a wrecked society to bring Kong to NYC as a spectacle. Immediately, the show goes wrong, Kong escapes, stamps out lives and wrecks property as he searches for, and then escapes with Ann Darrow. After he is killed, he lies like a pile of rotting garbage on the sidewalk that some street sweeper, like the one in the old Mad Magazine cartoon, will have to clean up. Denham is unfazed, still cocky, despite the destruction and death he has brought to the city in pursuit of show business wealth. He’s already meditating his next coup de theatre.
Kind of like Musk et al, amassing great wealth by unleashing these internet/social media/web things on us with nary a concern about how they may derange or destroy our politics, society, culture, or well being. And like the paying spectators at the Kong premier, we may gripe about the ticket price, but we go along too.