It's essentially the same ever-growing argument in each film: Do apes have souls? We're obsessed with that question -- not just for apes, but robots and dinosaurs and the occasional volleyball. But for monkeys specifically, this fictional quest for a soul is most perfectly paralleled by a real-world quest to create one. I'm speaking, of course, about the "uncanny valley" -- which stands for a notable dip in humans' affinity toward a creepily realistic artificial version of themselves. In other words, it's the jeebies we get when looking at this:
"Evacuate? In our moment of- DOWNLOADING UPDATE ... BUFFERING ... BUFFERING ... BUFFER-"
We've come close, but never quite recreated a CGI human that didn't trigger the red flag in our lizard brains telling us that something is wrong. Most likely it's a survival instinct so that aliens don't come to Earth disguised as a bunch of Peter Cushings. But whatever the explanation, scientists have discovered that this effect also exists in monkeys.
Cinema is, at it's core, a parlor trick humans are spending an ass-ton of money to perform on ourselves. We get together with millions of dollars and fake an emotional journey for no good reason beyond entertainment. Visual effects have always been the clearest representation of that deceit. So it makes sense that the ultimate trick would be to successfully create a living, emotional human which fooled audiences into feeling empathy for it. And since we've yet to do that, our natural fallback is the closest possible creature: the lovable monkey.
And you know what? We're getting pretty darn close to cracking this thing -- at least, judging from one review of the last Planet Of The Apes film:
I'll save you the time of watching the video: The chimps were delighted. At no point did they tear anyone's face off or poop in a child. It appears that while humans are still a stretch, we have crossed the uncanny valley for our monkey brethren. So if they ever do become super-intelligent and rise up against us, at least they'll have something awesome to watch.
Can you imagine that? Can you imagine a little monkey movie theater playing all sorts of monkey adventures? There would be a monkey projectionist and monkey teenagers paying little monkey dollars with dead monkey presidents on them to see Monkey Transformers or, like, Monkey Manchester By The Sea. Oh my god can you imagine what a Monkeychester By The Sea would look like? Why haven't we made that yet? Screw Planet Of The Apes, if we've indeed crossed the monkey uncanny valley, why aren't we recreating Oscar winners with CGI monkeys? For the love of god, we have the technology.
Dave is on Twitter, if you'd like to talk monkeys.
For more monkeys and movies, check out 6 Movie Monsters That Just Wouldn't Work and 4 Ways 'Planet of the Apes' Has Made Actors Obsolete.
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