How “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” Steals Black Political Imagery

August 17, 2011  |  

By Alexis Garrett Stodghill

Blockbuster movie “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” has just come out on top after a competitive weekend at the box office. Raking in $27.5 million, this prequel to the 1968 classic “Planet of the Apes” beat out the controversy-laden film “The Help,” which came in at No. 2. “The Help” is hated by black female historians, cultural critics and average folks alike for what many see as the stereotypical mammy imagery they believe the film promotes. But “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” does something even more crafty. To make audiences sympathize with the abused chimps, its storytellers borrowed images from the most emotionally arresting moments of the black Civil Rights Movement. It’s impossible to imagine that Hollywood artists at the top of their game did not know what they were doing. Tinseltown has finally given our history its due — even if brilliant animals have to be a stand-in for blacks to gain mainstream empathy. Here are the most obvious grabs from the rich repository of the black political past that usually go unremembered.

[SPOILER ALERT: This slide show contains spoilers.]


The Black Power Fist

In this UK poster to promote the film, we see a clear copy of the black power movement’s fist gesture from the ’70s.

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