Magic and Imagery #13
Beware the beast Man, for he is the Devil's pawn. Alone among God's primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother's land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him; drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of death.
The popularity of the original 1968 adaptation of Planet of the Apes, written mostly by Rod Serling, and its four sequels cannot be underestimated. The 1970s were wild and woolly and shotgun, and for most of mainstream America, the syndicated reruns of Star Trek and the Apes theatrical series were their true introductions to science fiction.
Planet of the Apes is the most intelligent and the most witty of the series -- basically proving that the first entry is almost always the best (with some exceptions) -- and is certainly the most ironic. Its moments of grandeur, along with its moments of ironic introspection, are what turned a dumb little premise into a classic that people quote even today. Because Serling made it matter. Serling turned a story about a race of violent simians into a reflection on man and his own violent predilections. It resonates with us, in our very bones, and in our own fears.
We are a planet of apes, whether we want to face it or not. Like a man once said, we're just cavemen in blue jeans.
Maybe it's about time we changed. Maybe it's time we grew up.
I won't hold my breath.