In Your Language

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Reaction to "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" Movie

First of all, AWESOME MOVIE!

[Elle] You can't blame the apes. 
[Carver] Who the hell else am I going to blame?

Looking at Monkeys to Find Humanity:

in movies and in labs

Disclaimer: If you haven't seen this movie, don't read my post. Skip to the video at the end.

First Impressions:
  • I identified with Caesar; I was taken from my mother and raised by a family of a different culture. 
  • The portrayal of monkey politics shocked me. 
  • I was touched that Caesar wouldn't turn his back on humans. 
  • Caesar's trust was based on actions, rather than species.

How would Social Workers Handle Koba?

I'm trying to think and act as if I'm already a social worker based on what I learned up until now. I imagine Koba as one of my diverse clientele. We are taught to put our biases on a shelf and see the good in everyone. We would have to ignore the fact that he shot someone and staged a war. We would have to take the holistic view of what lead up to that decision, considering the decisions as meeting a goal or need.

I see Caesar as Koba's "social worker." He freed him from the institution (experimental lab) and gave him community that he never had before. Koba would go through cognitive behavioral counseling and anger management classes if he were a human instead of being thrown off the tower (monkey management). Human services strives to rehabilitate through their involvement.

Planet Ape Culture 

Social Construct

"Ape not kill ape" was their construct of "social contract theory." It is a collectivist culture where they all care for each other and the interests of the group supersede that of the individual monkey. 

Great Philosophers: Thomas Hobbes: social contract

Home and Family 

They were the only things worth fighting or not fighting for. Caesar forgave the shooting of his son Ash to spare a war that would kill even more of the monkey troop (still staged by Koba). Their home was the Redwood Forest, largely undisturbed by humans. The forest was a pocket of their native habitat surrounded by "civilization." Their home was built in a primal style, the way I would expect an apes with human mental facilities would. 


Spears were used to hunt for food and to defend against humans. Sign language was used as a shared language to make them unique from other monkey communities. They tamed horses for their use to symbolize they are not just "animals" but that they can subdue other animals like humans did to them.

A Scenario of Monkeys Revenge for Captivity

The screenwriters were careful to show a range of human behavior toward the lab monkeys, as well as to the freed monkeys. They purposefully showed that some monkeys saw the best of humans and some only saw the bad side of humans. 

Koba saw the bad side of the humans and manipulated the situation to incite a war of revenge. The human survivors were caged just like he and his fellow monkeys had been. The monkeys who didn't support his crusade were imprisoned. It was hard to tell if Koba was more monkey or human at that point. His overall platform was to seek justice and revenge for monkeys but it also seemed like a coup to take Caesar's position in the troop whilst shackling the dissenters. 

The Essence of Loyalty

Caesar had loyalty to humans since they cared for him in extravagant ways. Because his father was a clinical doctor, I'd say he probably spent more time with Caesar than he would have a human son. He was the son and "subject." They grew an unbreakable bond. Caesar even valued the pictures of himself and the doctor. He attacked the neighbor who appeared to be threatening grandpa's life, which ultimately put him in primate holding. To console himself during incarceration, he scratched a replica of the window of his attic home. When he disowned humans, he erased that symbol of "home." At the end of the movie, Caesar was filled with emotion while watching the video clip left on the camcorder since the electricity was shut off.

Caesar had divided loyalties to humans for raising him and monkeys who were under his beneficent reign. If Koba had not been the shooter, Caesar would have probably maintained a blind bias for monkeys. At that point, he generalized mistrust. That mistrust only reinforced his "no killing" stance towards humans and apes alike (unless defending your own life). 

Can Monkeys and Humans Coexist?

Let's say, there was no drama between the monkeys and the humans. After the crew fixes the generator, everything is hunky dory with the monkey neighbors. The situation would need a peace accord. It would have to be a verbal agreement (understanding) since monkeys do not have a record system. 

I think the mistake in the chain of events of the movie, was having the monkeys having human capabilities and intelligence. It blurred the lines of structure and order. {It reminds me of the show 4400 where people were abducted and sent back to earth with superhuman powers. Opposing powers find out how to make the neurotransmitter responsible for the abilities and distributing it caused chaos.}  

The movie challenged my instinct to make sweeping judgements about people. In the end, I was reminded that not all humans are pro-social. At the same time, not all monkeys are pro-social to each other (via movie representation). Therefore, there would be a subset of humans and monkeys who could co-exist. That subset would contain candidates who could  handle the ongoing maintenance of the hydraulic power source in monkey territory. There would be a new profession of species relations. =)


 In a Real Life Lab...

Dr. Frans worked with monkeys and elephants...

 What is your reaction to the quotation leading this post?

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