Cinematic Monkey Business


Cinematic Monkey Business:

Self-Contradictions Among Hollywood’s Nature Loving, Anti-Capitalist Activists

By Dr. Ted Baehr, Publisher, and Dr. Tom Snyder, Editor

While thinking about the storyline in Disney Nature’s new animal movie, MONKEY KINGDOM, we came across a funny contradiction in the movie’s story, and in many other animal documentaries, that shows a problem in the thinking of many of pro-environmentalist, animal-friendly activists.

MONKEY KINGDOM’s story follows a troop of monkeys in the jungles of Sri Lanka. There is a strict pecking order to this monkey troop, which is led by alpha males. Maya is an adult female born into the lower class. Survival’s hard for her because she’s at the bottom. When Maya has a baby, her first priority is to help him survive. This proves dangerous and difficult, especially without the help of her mate who was chased away by other males. Things go from bad to worse when a rival monkey troop attacks. Maya learns to turn the bad into good and overcome her low social status to create a better life for her family.

The contradiction here is that the movie generates sympathy for Maya because the alpha male monkeys enforce a strict pecking order that puts the life of Maya and her baby in jeopardy. However, according to Darwin’s theory of evolution, the alpha male monkeys are at the top of the pecking order because they are the strongest, and, hence, the most fit, monkeys to multiply their genes, thereby ensuring the survival of the tribe against other monkeys, not to mention predators.

This leaves viewers with a pertinent question:

Why should one care whether or not Maya and her baby survive, especially if everything in nature is decided by natural selection and other mindless evolutionary, purely physical, or materialistic mechanisms? In fact, if evolution and naturalistic materialism is true, shouldn’t we side with the alpha monkeys and their families against Maya and her child?

This leads to another, more political (and perhaps more relevant) question:

Shouldn’t leftist activists side with the Top 1% of Americans instead of the Bottom 99%? After all, if evolution is true, then the Top 1% in society DESERVE to be the Top 1% because they have shown themselves to be the most fit, the most capable among us.

Of course, in reality, it is only the God of the Bible who tells us not to show any favoritism to the rich or the poor, the great or the small (Leviticus 19:15 and Deut. 16:18-20). Also, it is only the God of the Bible who tells us to show compassion for the needy, or to show hospitality to the stranger.

If evolution is true, then the fact that most of the people running Wall Street, Hollywood or the federal government, or the fact that most of the top billionaires in the United States (Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Larry Ellison, Charles Koch, David Koch, Jim Walton, Michael Bloomberg, S. Robson Walton, Mark Zuckerberg, et al.), are white “alpha males” shouldn’t bother us, because that’s just the survival of the fittest!!!

Yet, every year, the trade papers in Hollywood tell us about growing concerns in Hollywood that there are few women and even fewer “people of color” running the major movie studios and television networks.

Sometimes we get nature documentaries like MONKEY KINGDOM that tell us to be concerned about the fate of “weaker” or “endangered” members or outcasts in the animal kingdom.

One of our favorite movies from last year, PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR, made fun of nature lovers, documentary filmmakers and supporters of evolution theory.

The movie opens with large line of penguins marching across Antarctica to another location. At the same time, a small crew of humans is filming the march of the penguins with one crewmen narrating. Playing the crewman is Werner Herzog, a famous German film director who recently has made some English-language nature documentaries.

A very young Skipper, Kowalski and Rico step out of the penguin line and ask their fellow penguins why they need to march like this across the frozen snow. The other penguins answer that “Nature” dictates they all march like this. Their answer doesn’t impress Skipper, who exclaims, “I reject Nature!”

At that moment, a lonely penguin egg starts to roll away down the hill. None of the other penguins go to help it, and Skipper chastises them. Acting out of compassion, not his survival or survival of the fittest, Skipper, Kowalski and Rico go after the little egg, which stops precariously on the rocky top of a high slope leading down to a large, rusted abandoned ship. The little egg tumbles down the slope and becomes a large snowball as it gathers the snow in front of it.

Skipper almost tumbles down the dangerous slope trying to save the egg, but Kowalski and Rico grab hold of him. At that point, Skipper sees that the ship down below is swarming with hungry seals.

Suddenly, the film crew reappears, and the narrator shoves Skipper, Kowalski and Rico down the slope to make a better story for his movie. They tumble down the slope just like the egg. As the egg, Skipper and his friends land on the ship, the snowballs around them dissipate, and Skipper, Kowalski and Rico must save themselves and the egg from the hungry seals. Eventually, the penguins and the egg land on a small iceberg. The egg cracks open and out pops a cute baby penguin. In fact, he’s so cute that Skipper, Kowalski and Rico decide to adopt him, and Skipper names him Private.

The Bible tells us that God created human beings in His image and gave mankind dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:27,28):

“So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply….’”

Best of all, when we accept the free gift of renewed life through Jesus Christ, we get adopted as God’s children and heirs, just as Private was adopted after being saved.

Unlike the passage above from the Bible, evolution theory can’t tell us how to live loving lives. Only a religion like Christianity, or a religious/moral/philosophical book or manual like the Bible, can do that. Also, it should be noted that human beings are just as much a part of God’s Creation (of His “natural,” physical universe) as any other part.

God has given human beings great power, but, as another famous pop culture phenomenon tells us, with great power comes great responsibility.

Let us use that power responsibly, and intelligently, as well as prudently, while following the guidelines God has set before us in His Word. Let us not succumb to easy platitudes, contradictory and irrational pseudo-science, emotional arguments, mindless psychobabble, or political fads while we do it.