Monthly Archives: July 2014

Untrusting Neighbors: Dawn of the Planet of The Apes and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict


In the near future, two neighboring groups struggle to co-exist in the land around them. Mistrust, betrayal, resentment, and fear plague both sides as certain members of the group try to find a way to co-existence and peace and others work to disrupt. One side has lived under the oppression of another. One side is all-too-aware of its previous frailty. Is this the plot to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes? Or the current conflict between Israeli and Palestinian forces? It’s both. And yet, not really. It is striking though how particularly resonant the plot of Dawn is to one of the worst modern day conflicts in our world.
Dawn picks up some years where Rise of the Planet of The Apes left off. A virus has spread across the globe killing off nearly every human civilization imaginable. A small remnant still exists in the city of San Francisco led by Dreyfus (Gary Oldman). They are nearly out of power though and so a group of scientists and engineers treks across the Golden Gate Bridge to try and restore hydroelectricity to an abandoned dam. The group is led by Malcolm (Jason Clarke) and a few others. A surprise run in with a talking ape in the Sequoias of Muir Woods however leaves the humans speechless and one ape dead. The apes, led by the terrific Cesar (Andy Serkis), warn the humans to never come back. Both sides retreat and the talk turns to what action each side should take. Some say war. Other co-existence. Cesar wants to exist with the humans, as does Malcolm with the apes. Is such a thing possible?
Cesar has experienced the kindness of humans while most of the other Apes, like the ferocious and gashed Koba, have only experienced torture and experimentation at the hands of humans. Likewise Malcolm sees the apes not only as a threat or as animal brutes, but as equally intelligent allies. Some of the other humans however take a less than favorable view of the apes, mocking them or wishing for their annihilation. Is there a path through such conflict? I won’t ruin it for you here but you could probably guess the answer.
Dawn is perfect in the way it pairs tense action sequences with an exploration of complicated (and close to home) relational themes of co-existence between species or groups. It is terrific science fiction with a plot that mirrors an array of relational and territorial disputes that have occurred in our homo sapien history. You could change out apes and humans with any number of former conflicts. The Israeli-Palestinian is undeniably the closest though and the movie portrays what is perhaps the biggest barrier to peace in any situation, forgiveness and an eventual willingness to let go of the past. As Cesar remarks towards the end of the film, “Apes start war. And humans will never forgive.”

Tagged , , , , , ,

Observations on a Lauryn Hill Concert, Put On By The City (with Good Intentions) for only $5

The breeze picks up, blows leaves, fresh curly tree buds. It’s hot, but not too hot. The clouds cover the sun. The people stream in. A most diverse gathering in Salt Lake City, the most.

“The fuck who threw that?” says a man, as he picks up a beach ball, crumples it with his bare hands.

“Is that Lauryn Hill?” A white woman asks with jean shorts and her hubby husband, of the only clear main singer on stage. A black woman wearing a white dress. “Yes,” I say. That is Lauryn Hill. The person who you came to see tonight? No? You don’t even know?

The man beside us smokes weed, fine. The woman gabbing on her cell phone, not so fine.

Three teenage girls push their way wearing not much more than their Neanderthal ancestors.

Three teenage boys push by with polo’s and flippy-flip hair cuts. Does a fifteen year old with a haircut like Justin Bieber really know who Lauryn Hill is? Maybe? Doubt it? I don’t know.

“Do you people know The Fugees, what the word ‘Fugees’ even stands for?” I’m not trying to be pretentious, I just genuinely want to know.

A man dives on stage, tries to rap. Security throws him off.

2-3 people cram into a porter potty at once. Can girls play swords?

We are water bobs in a current of the crowd, best not fight it, let the wave lift you, carry you.

Five people stand in a circle, chatting away loudly like it’s the middle of July on a Saturday afternoon and there’s no one around for miles.

Oh , and Lauryn Hill was great just, you know.