I was listening to a live version of Frank Zappa’s “King Kong” this morning and Frank introduced the tune by saying this:
The name of this song is “King Kong.” It’s a story of a very large gorilla who lived in the jungle, and he was doing OK until some Americans came by and thought that they would take him home with them. They took him to the United States and they made some money by using the gorilla. Then they killed him.”
Often have I heard that the Godzilla movies were a subconscious metaphor for World War II and Pearl Harbor’s awakening of a “sleeping giant” in the minds of the Japanese. So I wonder if King Kong isn’t subconsciously a parable about Black America: we went into the jungle and brought people back to make money off of them and we mistreated and often killed them. Certainly we killed their sense of cultural and religious identity.
It may be a stretch, but it would be a better explanation for the incredibly iconic status of King Kong in American film history than just the film’s special effects. Why else would a story of a giant primate on the rampage, who runs off with a (white) girl be so fascinating to so many? Would the film have worked if Kong were any other animal but a lower primate, so close to us evolutionarily, and to many minds in the early/mid 20th century, a closer relative to blacks than whites? I’ve always been at a loss to explain the appeal of King Kong. I never saw the recent remake, because I knew the story and wasn’t very excited by it the first time. This larger allegory makes sense to me, at least.