In this fourth installment of the Planet of the Apes series we watch the next episode in how earth humans became overcome and enslaved by intelligent speaking apes.
This is a perfectly crafted well told epic that focuses on the personal journey of revenge for the leader of apekind, Caesar, played with understated brilliance by Andy Serkis. It is a moving and complex portrait of a leader who seeks peace, is pushed to revenge, but discovers mercy when he faces his own hatred. It’s what makes epics so… well, epic. War has ape characters that you can do nothing but root for, which makes you think twice, since they represent the creatures who will ultimately overthrow humanity on earth.
Are our enemies more like us than we would like to admit? Not always. But is it moral relativism to humanize the enemy? Not always.
Steven Zahn plays a comic relief chimpanzee who almost upstages Serkis with his lovably selfish personality (I’m telling you, Zahn rivals Serkis’ “good” Gollum paws down). The apes who join Caesar are loyal men—whoops—I mean apes of honor. The “humanization” of the apes is smartly captured by having Caesar’s band of assassins end up caring for a little mute human girl who steals your heart with every gesture she makes.
The visual effects are stupendous. Not one moment in the entire film did I ever think I was watching CGI. That is a compliment not only to the quality of the technology, but to the acting. War exemplifies the best of Hollywood visual effects, not in drawing attention to it, but in making it invisible. Bravo!
Unfortunately, War for the Planet of the Apes is also another example of bigoted Christophobia that seems to spill from the talented yet depraved souls of many Hollywood storytellers.
(Though, thank God, not all of them)
Human Exceptionalism: The Image of God
The whole mythology of this reboot is quite fascinating and brilliant. The idea of a medical cure for Alzheimer’s disease in humans mutates and ends up killing humans but giving intelligence to apes. It’s a story of good gone bad. It’s an exploration of human nature. Yes, even the apes are metaphors for human nature in this story.
How can we maintain human exceptionalism without descending into animalistic brutality? What really makes us different from the animals? Though PETA and other Leftist activists like environmentalists promote the hatred of humanity and seek to deny our difference from the rest of the animal kingdom (they cheer for the death of the human race), everyone knows it is precisely the morality to which activists try to appeal that separates us and makes us transcend the animal kingdom. Sure animals cooperate and submit to the benefit of the tribe instinctively, but humans learn moral right and wrong that goes against the self-interest of our animal nature. Humans are after all created in the image of God, not the other animals.
Of course, the false premise of the Planet of the Apes series is that what makes an ape “human” is simply a matter of increased intelligence, or even self-awareness. This is an inherent fallacy of materialism that ultimately reduces to the “Great Chain of Being.” We are all one continuum of the arrangement of atoms. From microbe to man, it’s just a matter of evolving intelligence.
This is where the narrative starts to deconstruct.
“Cultural appropriation” is all the Left Wing rage these days. And I do mean rage. It’s the claim that no one has the right to use another’s cultural artifacts, whether food or styles or narratives, because that results in a “rape” of the original culture, a kind of cultural colonialism, taking over another’s culture. The accusation of cultural appropriation has become a weapon of violence used by Leftists primarily against “western culture” that is alleged to be supremacist, colonialist and imperialist. In fact, it is most often used as a racist attack on white women who wear hoop earrings, or cornrows or dreds, or white business people who own Mexican food trucks, etc. So, it’s usually a tactic of the racist Left to promote hatred and violence in communities of color against caucasians that are not Leftist.
But let’s go ahead and use the original definition of cultural appropriation, and let’s see how War for the Planet of the Apes culturally appropriates Christianity and seeks to rape it and use it’s imagery and narrative in a colonialist manner.
Remember how I said that the materialist metaphysic in Planet of the Apes affirms a continuity of the animal kingdom? We’re no different from animals, except in level of intelligence, etc?
Well, what that means and includes is that there is no transcendence to reality. That is, there is no spiritual reality, there is only matter. Reality is not transcendent, it is imminent.
Yet, War culturally appropriates Christian imagery and narrative within it’s story that does not comport with its materialism, but registers with our souls and gives it that sense of transcendence that the materialist narrative lacks. It then subverts that meaning against Christianity.
The Villification of Christianity
Storytelling Lesson: Whatever viewpoint or ethic you seek to vilify, put it in the mind and mouth of the villain. It’s very simple. As the audience then hates the villain, they will hate his viewpoint along with him.
The villain of War, a military colonel, is actually a rather good villain. What I mean is that he is not depicted as someone who wants to do evil, but rather someone who does evil because he believes he is doing good. He justifies the means by the ends. A classic moral flaw. And the villain, played unusually restrained by Woody Harrelson (YEAAY! He’s so much better when he is restrained in his characters), ends up being a mirror for Caesar to see himself. Caesar is faced with the tragic truth that he would probably do the very same thing as the Colonel if he thought he was saving the ape race. So, the moral dilemma does not have easy answers, which also makes this a strong well-told epic dealing in transcendent values.
Transcendent values that do not comport with its own materialism, but hey, that’s a typical cheat of secularism and atheism: Steal Christian metaphyics and ethics while denying them, because we wouldn’t be satisfied with a story that had a consistently atheist metaphysic or ethic.
Spoiler Warning (But truthfully, it won’t ruin it)
Okay, so here is what the storytellers of War do: They plant Christian imagery and narrative into the villain character that gives it a sense of transcendent deep meaning. But it does so in a way that we will blame that worldview along with the villain and hate it (You know the standard Hollywood Christophobic stereotype of the serial killer who quotes the Bible. It makes so much deeper of a theme). Bullet points for quick enumeration:
1) The slogan and icon of the evil human militia is “Alpha and Omega: The Beginning and the End.” This is a well known phrase that has historically been linked to Jesus Christ, because it’s in the Bible: Three times in Revelation Jesus, as God, says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the End.” (Revelation 1:8; 21:6; 22:13) We Christians OWN that phrase. Of course, our antichrist culture always equates such elevation of Christ in the minds of anyone in authority as an automatic theocracy.
(Pet Peeve Sidenote: Is it not self-evidently absurd to anyone with half a brain that The Handmaid’s Tale paranoid fear of a Christian theocracy, is a phobic conspiracy theory that has no connection to reality anywhere, except in the sharia communities of Muslims all over the world—including America?)
2) The Colonel makes the sign of the cross over his chanting soldiers, like a priest of violence.
3) The soldiers crucify ape victims, including Caesar, who obviously becomes the Christ figure in this. A subversion of another Christian symbol, turning it into a weapon of “Christians” instead of their symbol of suffering.
4) Shortly after this shot, we see someone with a bracelet that says “What Would Caesar Do?” and obvious play off the “What Would Jesus Do” fad.
5) In the climactic revelation of the movie, we learn that the Colonel’s own son contracted the virus so he killed him to save others. The Colonel tells Caesar, and I quote: “I had to sacrifice my only son so that humanity could be saved.” Sound familiar? Hmmm? PUH-LEEZE. If that is not obvious vilification of the Christian God by placing his redemption into the mouth of the villain, I don’t know what is. This thematic meme makes absolutely no story sense at all, other than the Christophobic God-hatred of the storytellers. Their prejudice and bigotry must find an outlet. They must preach their gospel of violence against Christianity.
6) The Colonel then says that the war with the apes is “A holy war.” Notice, he didn’t say “jihad,” he said “holy war,” which we all know is traditionally associated with the Crusades, a righteous response to Islamic imperialist violence, unfortunately gone bad.
Christians of the World Unite!
(For liberals without a sense of humor, that subhead is what is called sarcasm) If we are going to be beholden to this immoral leftist verbotten behavior of “cultural appropriation,” then I suggest we Christians rise up, and demand that Hollywood stop appropriating OUR Christian culture with its images and narrative in order to weaponize it against us.
We should be decrying it wherever it shows its ugly hate-infested head, like in movies like War for the Planet of the Apes, as well as in stores and society. We must demand that society stop celebrating Christmas and Easter. It’s ours, not yours. Stop your cultural appropriation with your substitute idols of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Let’s start taking back our Christian culture that has been appropriated and violently raped by secular God-haters.
And let’s demand that imperialist and colonialist Hollywood stop “appropriating” Judeo-Christian imagery and symbols and memes in their movies. No “sacrifice of the one for the many.” That’s our ethic, not your evolutionary ethic of survival of the fittest. No more “Christ figures” (Goodbye Matrix and Wonder Woman, and most superhero stories). Stop raping our religious messianic heritage for your secular/atheist purposes. And you can’t use crosses as images or religious curses like “Jesus Christ” or “God damn it,” or “go to hell.” They are not your phrases to colonialize.
This is obviously a parody, because we all know Christians don’t fight back.
They turn the other cheek.
But there is one thing we can do and that is to fight back with Gospel truth and Biblical justice (as opposed to “social justice”). We can speak the truth to power, the god of this world. Because without God, there is nothing morally, metaphysically or epistemically legitimate except power.
Like Caesar learned, don’t wait until the secular godless culture kills itself—and us with it. Do something positive. Let’s do some subversion and cultural appropriation of our own. God did it all through the Bible. So should we.
4 comments on “War for the Planet of the Apes: Cultural Appropriation and the Battle for the Social Narrative”
Easily the best movie of the year for me. I really really loved this movie. All the additions were surprisingly great. Only small issue I had was that every single human in this one was evil except the little girl obviously. I was really hoping that, that one soldier they kept focusing on was going to switch sides. I know it’s a really small gripe but yeah. Also the way they basically killed the whole army off was interesting but idk lazy? It’s not like apes would have a chance against them but still, it was weird. It was really dark though and it had a lot of emotional scenes. The posters and trailers were definitely misleading though. 9/10
Hey Brian, as usual you are very astute. I noticed many of the same things while attempting to enjoy, what should have been an good sci-fi film. It seems the lost can’t help themselves when it comes to incorporating anti-Christian subtext. I was going to write my own review for my site, but I think I will just point people to yours. I missed the, “What would Caesar do?” bracelet. What scene was that in? I want look for it the next time I see the movie. Keep up the good work.
Bob, I didn’t keep my notes, but I think the bracelet was sometime around the sequence where they discovered the concentration camp and the crucified apes.
Thanks for the information. I will keep an eye out for it.