planetoftheapes

So yeah, this will probably happen.

That Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the thinking man’s summer blockbuster should come as no surprise to those who’ve followed the simian saga so far. Each film in the storied franchise contains plenty of thought provoking sentiment that you wouldn’t normally find in a generic blockbuster. It seems you can get away with metaphorical murder as long as your film stars apes in polyester suits.

Along with downbeat endings and chimpanzees that look strangely like Christian Bale, one of the hallmarks of the Apes series is a strain of deep-running social commentary that makes them strangely prescient in regard to real-world events. Well, either that or the films are recycling what’s gone before and history is condemned to continually repeat itself. For the sake of this post I’m going to assume it’s the former – despite naturally being of the glass-is-half-full disposition.

Anyway, here are four real world events, as predicted by the Planet of the Apes saga – even the not very good one by Tim Burton.

The Intelligent Design debate

Planet of the Apes takes a hypothetical large pole and uses it to skewer organised religion, taking particular care to smite the idea of creationism. Despite excavating evidence to the contrary, the apes in the first film believe they are the first race to gain enlightenment and they’ll go to any length to maintain that belief, including hindering their scientists and using fear to keep their people in line. Which adds an extra layer of cynicism and real-world relevance.

Unlike the film, there doesn’t seem to be a begrudging live and let live arrangement in real life. Though on the bright side, that also means we don’t have to wander the desert in a loincloth until we realise that we’re all completely fucked. I think the encyclopedia entry for ‘Small Mercies’ may need a new example.

Celebrity Culture

katie-and-peter

Katie and Peter: The Final Chapter

A couple of talking chimps feted by sophisticated society for their lack of pretension and ignorance of social norms are eventually ostracised, when the true nature of their existence is revealed and people get a little bit bored of their earthy ways. Yes, the story of Peter Andre and Jordan’s financially incentivised romantic coupling is truly a film script come to life. In this case, the film is Escape from the Planet of the Apes. And just like real-life, this state of affairs becomes even more sinister when the well-heeled realise these actions could inspire the less intelligent of their race to do the same. This is further compounded when it’s discovered they’re breeding.

But that’s where reality and fiction diverge; The Only Way is Essex and the continued awareness of the existence of Peter Andrew attests that the real chimps’ ending isn’t half as bad as their fictional counterparts. As the unwritten rule of the Apes film dictates, it ends less happily for Zira and Cornelius. Sob. But as depressing as this cinematic ending is, it’s arguably not as miserable as watching ITV 2.

The Arab Spring

A dispossessed class, forced into mindless servitude, unite to overthrow their privileged masters. Despite an equal level of synthetic clothing, the plot of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes doesn’t bear much resemblance to the recent London Riots – as the lack of basmati rice and stolen plasma screens attest. But it does bear more than a passing muster to the momentous Arab Spring revolution in the Middle East. Having been inspired by the radical actions of an individual, the dispossessed literally go ape-shit in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, rebelling against those who’ve enslaved them in a bloody coup that appears to take place in Milton Keynes.

Unfortunately there’s no third act in real life, so while the rebellion in ‘Conquest’ takes about 20 minutes, in real life we have the bloody actions of oppressors met with some stern words from the UN. I’m no mathematician but I suspect the percentage of this shit happening on Charlton Heston’s watch is about -100%.

George W. Bush’s presidency

dubya-apes

The Sit Down of the Ape

The prescient potency of the Planet of the Apes series cannot be denied. Even Tim Burton’s otherwise inept remake contained an element of foresight, ending as it did with a chimp reclining on a seat of power in Washington DC the very same year George W Bush took office. And while this ending was contrived and confusing, at least it only lasted a couple of minutes. The real life Commander and chimp’s term lasted for 8 shitting years.

The Planet of the Apes remake ended on a downer, mainly because it was so pants. Though all hope is not lost because the new film is very good indeed. So let’s make the most of it while we can as, according to ape lore, we have psychic humans with melted faces, the further intellectual decline of the human race, enslavement by smarter apes and a nuclear apocalypse to look forward to. That should make for some interesting reality TV.

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