I meant to write this review a while ago, but, as with most of this summer, I’ve been lazy and procrastinating. Unfortunately recent events have made this review more relevant for me than I thought it ever would, so I’m more or less taking a different angle with this review. It’ll be a long one, so buckle in.
Last month I went with my friend of the same name to go and watch War for the Planet of the Apes. I knew this movie would be good because people were already raving about it, and though I hadn’t seen the previous movie, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (I got the gist and read a synopsis before watching War), I thought it would be fine. I went into the movie and felt the drama of it—I felt the weight of it. Intelligent apes attempt to seek a haven for themselves—away from humans who see them as a threat. Caesar, their leader, wishes to move on from the events of Dawn when his lieutenant, Koba, betrayed him and acted against innocent humans, being far too radical (bad way not 80s and 90s pop culture way). And through the movie Caesar suffers and starts to be haunted by Koba, wondering if maybe he were right. Maybe the humans are all bad. Maybe humans can’t be trusted regardless of the examples of good humans. Caesar’s main enemy in the movie is a human named Colonel McCullough, a leader who wants to keep his country safe from the threat of the apes. Colonel, though evil in the perspective of apes and in turn much of the audience, is someone I can understand. He wishes for his world to be safe. There are intelligent apes who have hurt humans before and beset revolutions. There’s a disease coming around that makes humans more like apes and taking their ability to speak. Overall, in his eyes, apes are a scourge and he wants to take his planet back and keep destiny in the hands of humans (of course more happens, but I’m not one to spoil plot points).
Through out the movie I was impressed by the amount of emotional depth there was in a film without many speaking points, mainly gestures, facial expressions, and sign language conveying the drama. Overall I’d say the movie was great and that you should watch it. Were there head scratching moments? Yes. Like why would you build an army base at the bottom of a snowy mountain (and another moment that’s more of a spoiler)? But still it was entertaining and you’ll enjoy how much the movie conveys a narrative without speaking.
Usually this is where I’d conclude my review, say something ridiculous, leave you with something, and type, “Later days”, but watching this film forced me to start drawing parallels. The apes were captured and put into slavery camps. They silently dealt with their punishments. They eventually escaped and watched humans deal with each other. They found their promise land. And people came out of the movie theater talking about how resilient Caesar was. Talking about how he was so rebellious. Talking about how he stood up for his people who just wanted to peacefully live. And if you can’t see the parallels I’m drawing up at this point in this article, I’m sorry, but I’m going to talk about racial stuff now.
Over the weekend white supremacists came into Charlottesville, VA to “protest” about how they feel victimized and feel as though “their” country is being dispossessed. The country that they “built”. I’ll talk about that point a bit later, but because of this incident (one of probably many that just hadn’t gotten the spotlight) more NFL players are making the decision to sit or kneel during the National Anthem. And I’m sorry, but if you find sympathy for a fictional ape and find him respectable, yet can’t sympathize for a group of real people of color who decide to rebel in a non-violent manner in order to express their disappointment in a country that time after time shows that it’s still not accepting of their people, I don’t want to talk to you—you may be far too gone (oh! and Jermichael Finley is in a sunken place. ignore him.).
Over this week there’ve been many conversations about the Annoying Orange’s argument of “many sides”. People who somehow want to defend this incident by deflecting to BLM (Black Lives Matter) and comparing the group to the radical nazis and white supremacists who murdered a woman this past weekend are people who don’t understand. They’d rather continue to stay in their perspective where they don’t understand others. Black Lives Matter, at its core (misguided people who speak under their name be damned), never has and never will mean that black lives matter more. It just means that they matter. And if you haven’t paid attention to the history of this country, very much of it has essentially said that black lives haven’t mattered. From slavery (which I’m getting pretty tired of people saying, “Slavery’s over! Get over it!”) through the Civil Rights Movement (where people of color were fighting for: equality, the ability to vote, and the ability to just live and not be lynched for absolutely no reason…through the 1960s) till now where people are still fighting for the same rights, history has said time and time again that black people don’t matter, regardless of how much progress has been made.
People of Black Lives Matter, NFL Players who sit or kneel during the anthem, and POC typers on social media and blog articles who “always make it about race” are just people who want equality. We’re just people who want to watch the news and not see a headline about a black boy dying. We don’t want to learn about another young black kid who had dreams, maybe of being a chef or an astronaut or an artist, no longer have those dreams because some grown man in blue looked at a kid doing kid things and feared for his life—because some unqualified “server of justice” looked at a kid and decided to be trigger happy and unload lead into a kid who wanted to be Han Solo. All the while we’re angry because for every case of dead black boys are that of angry white men pointing guns at cops and threatening their lives only to be slapped on the wrist and offered whoppers for shooting up people in their place of prayer. And people then yell, “There’s no white privilege!”
We’re tired of people saying we’re “getting political” when we talk about the right to live and simply stand as equals. We’re tired of people saying that there isn’t as much racism because they refuse to look into a system of subtle racism and can’t understand that with racism the subtle version is much more harmful than the overt.
And with the incident that happened this weekend, yes, this is America. It might not be the America you know of or paid attention to, but it’s the America many POC have lived in. This isn’t fringe. This isn’t one outlandish incident. This is something that has happened and has been happening under veils and behind closed doors or right before your eyes, but maybe you didn’t focus on it.
And for the people who don’t understand why Charlottesville happened, I get. The unfortunate souls who came through Charlottesville look at the country as a throne—something that can be taken away from them. They believe that they’re being wiped off and that their worshipped history of having slaves and fighting for that “right” is being taken away. It’s just that they don’t understand that nothing’s being taken away. They unfortunately just have to share. Of course it looks like your status in society is lowering when, in reality, you’re just staying the same and others are rising up to equal level. They’re just feckless whiny folk who can’t stand not being in the spotlight. Their culture is changing. Their speaking space is including faces that don’t look like them. And a country that they believe belonged to them is showing that it really belongs to everyone. I’m not going to sympathize with them. They’re still a danger, so I have to ask of readers like you to make racism hard. Make it uncomfortable. Learn about systemic racism and the privileges you may or may not be benefitting from. Keep going and going and going until eventually you can look at people and understand why POC argue for what they argue. And if you’re a reader, reading this right now and don’t agree with me cause I’m showing my libtard colors or because I’m darkie scum, why’re you here? And if you’re a reader who looks at my suggestions and says that it’s too much work, because let’s face it, you did your job: you yourself aren’t racist, you voted for Obama twice, and you’d vote for him again a third time if you could, I understand that you don’t want to be an ally. But eventually your thought will be lackluster hate and unfortunately lazy misunderstandings will have to change (or maybe it’ll just fade away) because us people of color are a lot like Caesar, resilient and rebellious. And eventually we’ll find our place in this country (you didn’t think I’d tie this back to the beginning did you?). If you made it this far, I leave you with a random video. Later days.