King Kong: American Giant

         There are many films that reflect the culture and values of their country of origin. One such film is King Kong (1933), directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack. This film is uniquely American in how it represents life and the cultural values it advances.

         American culture is known for its dominant and powerful tendencies. The drive to be the best and the strongest is certainly epitomized in the movie King Kong. The principle of "survival of the fittest," the Darwinian concept that has certainly taken root in America is shown when the planes finally are able to shoot King Kong off the Empire State Building. The power struggle between King Kong and the humans is also very interesting, since the United States was a country formed by winning wars. The fact the American men are able to defeat King Kong shows how the United States values being a military power. This also shows how the United States believes it is the most militarily sound, since the natives who had battled King Kong for hundreds of years were not even able to kill the beast.

         The fact that the movie portrays the obviously black men on the exotic island as "savages" who sacrifice their women as the brides of King Kong also says much about American culture of the time period. This signals somewhat the racial strife and prejudice for other peoples that were present during this time. The United States has always been a very prejudicial nation towards some groups, as evidenced by a myriad of events from the Salem witch trials to the Red Scare of the McCarthy Era. The presence of natives in King Kong further relates the stereotypes that were prevalent, not only about different races within the United States, but abroad as well.

         Another United States cultural value that the movie King Kong can be related to is America's obsession with money and greed. This goes along with the American people's drive for success. Carl Denham has no qualms about taking King Kong to the States in order to display him to the public. Denham only does this so that he can make money in order to make up the movie that he did not get to shoot. He also brings King Kong back so that everyone can applaud him for his bravery. King Kong will make him successful and talked about throughout the world. King Kong represents success and power on a grand scale for Denham. When anyone conquers a "beast" or does something extremely innovative or new, this is praised by American society.

         This is why King Kong reflects the culture and values of the United States. It is interesting to note how much a country's culture can be portrayed in a film, and it shows how films (such as King Kong) can often transmit cultural values of a certain country all around the world.

Megan Locke

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