Human Exceptionalism

Planet of the Apes’ Not “War on Humans”

It’s part of my job as a human exceptionalism apologist to see movies that try to tear down the unique value of human life. I have some good news to report: Unlike Noah and the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes doesn’t fit snugly into that misanthropic category. 

The movie has a rather trite plot about how a man-made plague–caused by attempting to find a cure for Alzheimer’s–decimated humankind. But some genetically altered chimps escaped and now they are proliferating (aptly) in Marin County.

But the humans still living in the now-mostly destroyed San Francisco–homelessness remains a problem–need to access a hydroelectric dam in ape territory to save themselves. War ensues, despite the efforts of a good ape (Caesar) and a good human to prevent it. Sequel alert!

Still, there is some fun to be had in this formulaic bit of popular entertainment.

​Here are Five Reasons Why Liberals will Hate Dawn of the Planet of the Apes:

1. Female apes are consigned to traditional female roles, looking pretty, giving birth, being supportive of the male-ape folk, and being kept away from the fighting.

2. Apes hunt deer and eat meat.

3. Some apes really like guns and killing!

4. Apes live in a hierarchical society.

5. Apes clearly don’t practice family planning!

And now, Five Reasons Why Liberals will Love Dawn of the Planet of the Apes:

1. Apes are anti-human;

2. Apes don’t emit greenhouse gasses;

3. Apes oppose animal research;

4. Apes live like indigenous tribes;

5. Apes believe in ape diversity;

In the end, it’s all our fault. We caused the villain ape to go bad by experimenting on him. We caused the plague. But the movie doesn’t argue that the world would be better off if all the humans were dead. In these days of growing anti-humanism, that’s a victory.

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