Monkey See


So, it’s Thanksgiving—what do you rent? What, Hannah and Her Sisters? Growing up a New Yorker in the TV strangeland of the ’70s, Thanksgiving meant one thing to me: giant apes. For some twisted reason, one of the local stations (5, 9, or 11, back when they had local stations) would always air, year after year, King Kong, Son of Kong, and Mighty Joe Young from Thanksgiving noon to late dinnertime. In some households it was the Dallas Cowboys, in others it was the Macy’s parade, but in mine the day was filled with images of black-and-white stop-animated gorillas rampaging through the jungles of Skull Island and midtown Manhattan. When the pilgrim tales were trotted out at school, I began wondering when a lumbering pongid would emerge from the colonial underbrush and pound the Plymouth bastards into the soil.

Was this amazingly consistent programming perversion the work of one man, and if so, who was he? His tradition is dead; this year, not one TV station on the eastern seaboard has programmed a single
gargantuan-ape movie for Thanksgiving. Whoever he was, thanks to him, an entire generation will always pine over their turkey and yams for the roaring angst of lost simian rage, yowling for our own damaged innocence.