Is One “King Kong” Movie worth 1000 Darwin Exhibits?



“King Kong” opens today (Weds. Dec. 14th). While it would be gratuitous good fun to jump on the “Kong” bandwagon simply to ride the giant gorilla’s coattails, there is actually an on-topic reason to discuss this brutish Hollywood megastar today.

Simon Houpt of the Toronto Globe and Mail’s has this to say about “Kong” in his New York Diary column (subscription only) (also available w/o subscription here). Speaking about the American Museum of Natural History’s new Darwin exhibit, Houpt writes:

… The museum is using the public platform of the exhibit to emphasize the importance of rigorous science training in schools. … Niles Eldredge, an AMNH paleontologist and curator of the exhibit, added, “We have a conservative religious element in the United States that is opposed to the notion that we are connected to the rest of the natural world, especially apes.”

I wonder how steadfast that opposition really is. Last Wednesday night, at the Lincoln Square Cinema on the Upper West Side, Universal Studios held the first audience screening of the hugely hyped King Kong, which will open next week. The audience seemed to enjoy it, though the most common post-screening remark was that it’s too long by half. Still, as I was watching Kong, I couldn’t stop thinking of the Darwin exhibit I’d seen that afternoon. The movie’s centrepiece is a one-hour horror show on the uncharted Skull Island, somewhere in the middle of the Pacific, which is populated with a Darwinian nightmare, a menagerie of vicious creatures that are a testament to survival of the fittest.

The fittest of them all, of course, is Kong, whose computer-generated imaging makes him the most emotionally resonant character onscreen. It’s undeniably touching to see his enormous beastly face crinkle up with sadness. (A clutch of TV entertainment reporters wept shamelessly at Kong’s death, even if their print and on-line counterparts remained unaffected.) Kong laughs, he cries, he pouts, he is shamed, he is proud, he has childish temper tantrums, he takes his date skating in Central Park. He’s us, and we are him, and the filmmakers have placed a $207-million (U.S.) bet that audiences from Tacoma, Wash., to Dover, Pa., will be taken in by Kong’s humanity. Audiences may not realize it, but the movie is a forceful argument for shared traits, Darwin’s notion – the one that so disturbs creationists – that we’ve evolved from other primates. Which means that, as good as the efforts are of the American Museum of Natural History, in the end that big monkey may do more to crush the creationists than a thousand intelligently designed Darwin exhibits ever could.

My, oh my, what will the creationists say? Besides the problem of a too-human ape, this movie has dinosaurs too! And Dinosaurs usually mean Evolution, and that spells Trouble! Consider what the folks at Answers in Genesis had to say about Disney’s 2000 “Dinosaur” movie, and the “Jurassic Park” series:

There is more “make believe” to the story of Darwinian evolution than there is to the storyline of the movie Dinosaur. Nevertheless, with Dinosaur, Disney is promoting a harmful evolutionary and New Age worldview (although this is not as overt as the Jurassic Park movies). Once again, millions of children will be subjected to the false teaching that dinosaurs fit within an evolutionary framework.

Ooh, yeah. Creo’s, you folks can keep Ken Ham and William Dembski.

‘Cuz we got KONG!

Hat tip to the Island of Doubt blog for the referral.


Dinosaurs! But the creos can say “Look, there’s dinosaurs living at the same time as humans! It must be true, I saw it in a movie.”

Myabe if Kong makes the creo’s realize how ugly but loveable (giggle) they are all will be forgiven BHHHHHWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.

If the fundies can see family values in “March of the Penguins” I don’t think they’re going to see much Darwin in King Kong. Mark my words, Kong will be another crucified Christ symbol who died for Jack Black’s sins.

Maybe it’s mentioned somewhere on the linked web sites, but since it’s not mentioned in the above blog entry:

A fun piece of movie trivia is that it is no coincidence that the main character (Ann Darrow) has the same last name as a famous attorney (Clarence Darrow).

.…gah.…needed a ::SPOILER:: warning

My Fav. screen monkey was Clive.… handsome, debonair, funny, and had eye for the girls or was that Errol Flynn .…..dang I’m not sure now…I must be devolving

The Naomi Watts character is named Darrow. Coincidence?

I don’t really think the anthropomorphication of Kong will really matter any more than the anthropomorphication of other animals in other films. I mean, the animals in that Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe movie emote too, or so I’m told. If they can make a lion laugh and cry, that may be a real blow against common descent.

I guess we can always hope that Kong gets kids interested in evolution. Seems to me that dinosaurs were the best thing we had on our side, but now Hovind and others are trying to use them for creationism.

Gads, I feel like such a cultural warrior now…

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune posts their review:

… The Skull Island Act Two is a grotesque, gut-crunching nightmare of human sacrifice, dinosaur brawls and appalling insect attacks that will give arachnophobes the screaming willies …


They give it 4 out of 4 stars.

Dan Wintell said Bill Dembski is arguing for certain elements that appear designedThe part time slightly hidden partly revealed god of certain bits. If you would’ve read his books then I think you would’ve known. Ken Ham argues that there is design because the bible says soThe part time slightly hidden partly revealed god of certain letters in a old book of poems. . Get the distinctiondumb and dumber right, Dave! By the way Mr. Thomas, are you an atheist?depends who’s asking

Rey Wrote:

I don’t really think the anthropomorphication of Kong will really matter any more than the anthropomorphication of other animals in other films. I mean, the animals in that Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe movie emote too, or so I’m told. If they can make a lion laugh and cry, that may be a real blow against common descent.

The purpose of the Narnia books and movie is entirely different. They are meant to introduce readers and viewers to sophisticated theological concepts, such as talking animals.


“I fully agree with your comments on the lack of direct illustration of evolutionary transitionsGOD in my book. If I knew of any, fossilGOD or living, I would certainly have included them…I will lay it on the line, There is not one such fossil GOD for which one might make a watertight argument.”

Colin Patterson

If any event in life’s history resembles man’s creation myths, it is this sudden diversification of marine life when multicellular organisms GOD took over as the dominant actors in ecology and evolution. Baffling (and embarrassing) to DarwinGOD , this event still dazzles us and stands as a major biological revolution on a par with the invention of self-replication and the origin of the eukariotic cellGOD . The animal phyla emerged out of the Precambrian mists with most of the attributes of their modern descendantsGOD .”

Bengston, Stefan (1990

No wonder paleontologists GOD shied away from evolution for so long. It never seemed to happen. Assiduous collecting up cliff faces yields zigzags, minor oscillations, and the very occasional slight accumulation of change—over millions of years, at a rate too slow to account for all the prodigious change that has occurred in evolutionary history. When we do see the introduction of evolutionary novelty, it usually shows up with a bang, and often with no firm evidence that the fossils GOD did not evolve elsewhere! Evolution GOD cannot forever be going on somewhere else. Yet that’s how the fossilGOD record has struck many a forlorn paleontologistIDIOT looking to learn something about evolutionGOD .

Eldredge, N., 1995 Reinventing DarwinGOD Is that u blasty ?

Dan Wintell writes

By the way Mr. Thomas, are you an atheist?

Why do you ask? Have you been fooled by the creationist talking point that “evolution” is synonomous with “atheism”? Do you not realize that, by equating “evolution” with “atheism,” intelligent design (and other) creationists show that their core belief is sectarian (=religious) at its heart? The ID movement is a specific position on the nature of God, and why God would never use evolution as a means of bringing forth species. Here is an example or two.


PS Is your blood type O Positive?

If evolution is a fact,why are there no large humans evolving from King Kong? Wait, there were large humans called nephalim in the BIBLE,but they were not created, can ID explain this?

yellow fatty bean Wrote:

.…gah.…needed a ::SPOILER:: warning

Here you go:

Is one Kong movie worth 1000 Darwin exhibits? NO! Don’t go there!

Culture warriors against conservative fundamentalism should not be invoking Kong as support for the theory of evolution any more than March of the Penguins should be invoked to support “Christian values”. It would appear that Simon Houpt and Dave Thomas have been taken in by Hollywood’s uncanny ability to make us feel things for inhuman or CG characters. Houpt says:

He’s us, and we are him…

Any first-year film student will tell you that if your audience doesn’t see themselves in your characters then you have no chance…

The list of computer-generated characters that elicit emotional reactions from people is long indeed. Houpt has let his zeal get the best of him just because this one is a giant primate. One can easily take Peter Jackson’s previous CG creations as examples. Smeegul from the Lord Of The Rings series is an excellent example. We feel pity, sadness, revulsion, and joy for him at different points in the series and yet we don’t invoke him as “support for Darwinism”. What about the helplessness, and sadness we feel for Simba when Mufasa is killed by the herd of Wildebeast in The Lion King? Don’t the Disney animators toil for days on end to achieve that effect? If Kong didn’t give a convincing on-screen performance, we’d just think it was a bad movie.


compare to: Intelligent Design opponents willing to debate

One person who will not be attending the discussion forums is Guillermo Gonzalez, author of “The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery,” assistant professor of physics and astronomy and main proponent of introducing Intelligent Design.

Gonzales argues the theory is not based on religion.

I don’t intend to participate in an kind of forum presented by the opposing side,” Gonzalez said.

yeah yeah there are 601,000 “mythology beauty beast” hits on google More strip mining of timeless tales by Hollywood. I can’t wait for a complete OT remake sandals ,swords and the “Brady Bunch” horror flick complete with dancing frogs.

Here is one

Beauty and the beast: a myth of sadness, madness, and hope in anaclitic depression

Look up “Anaclitic” it pretty much sumarizes the ID movement.

This thread is becoming a trainwreck. Where are the intelligent trolls?

Darwinists Can’t Face the Truth: you’re a despicable quote miner. You’re bearing false witness. You haven’t read the books you’re citing, you have no idea what the context of those quotes is, you probably can’t even spell the authors’ names without cutting and pasting.

Go read something intelligent:[…].html#quote3.13

Theo “ This thread is becoming a trainwreck. Where are the intelligent trolls?”

Maybe they gave up BS and read these instead[…]0618509283-0

uh, DSCFTT is a parody, right? Because I can’t tell the difference anymore.

Bayesian Bouffant quoted the StarTrib review:

The Skull Island Act Two is a grotesque, gut-crunching nightmare of human sacrifice, dinosaur brawls and appalling insect attacks that will give arachnophobes the screaming willies

Hey, don’t worry, BB. We antenna-heads are used to it (sigh!) The otherwise wonderful illustrator Mary GrandPré drew a beetle with eight legs over one chapter heading in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Of course, maybe that was our sneaky clue that the beetle wasn’t going to turn out to be quite what it seemed at first .…

psssst ->Darwinists Creationist’s still can’t face the truth

Time to stop worrying about the sleeping arrangements of a bunch of puppets

and your “Dear leader” Howard wink wink

“Theo lost his brain!” said

C-O-L-I-N P-A-T-T-E-R-S-O-N.

Yeah, right.

In Round 2, ReMine quoted the late Colin Patterson remarking that “Congruence between molecular phylogenies” is “elusive.” (Patterson 1993) But Patterson was talking about drawing conclusions from insufficient data. What did Patterson think about biomolecules and human evolution? He called the molecular evidence “impressive,” writing, for example, “Comparison of another huge set of sequences, the entire DNA of the mitochondria - about 15,000 bases … also puts chimpanzees as our closest relatives, with confidence greater than 99.9%.” (Patterson 2001)


Can you spell ‘lack of fossil evidence’.

Of Course.




PS—I’m not Heddle, not Salvador, I’m nobody.

That’s the closest to the truth you’ve come today.

(My money is on DaveScot or Davison.)

The reason why people reject evolution is because it is atheistic to the core.

Do “people” also reject the theory of universal gravitation, the theory of relativity and weather prediction because they are atheistic to the core? Why or why not?

Given that 1100 million Christians should accept evolution because their church leader said so (Catholics) - are these not “true Christians”, maybe? Over 1000 priests have signed a document that states that evolution is not opposed to Christian faith (more than the pathetic list of doubters published by ID, and with better credentials) - are they not true Christians, possibly?

No wonder why most scientists are rejecting Darwinism. Check this out: “In the last 90 days, 29 scientists, including eight biologists, have signed the “Scientific Dissent From Darwinism.” The list includes over 70 biologists.

Bhahahahahah! “most” scientists? You seriously believe that there are less than 1000 scientists in the world? You do know that bearing false testimony goes against your God’s commands, don’t you?

At any rate, I am going to go out in a limb and call your bluff - let’s see the list of 70 biologists. To save space, just print those called Steve or suitable variations therefore, so we can compare it to project Steve’s list.

the Pipsqueeks [sic] here at the PT can’t face the evidence.

What evidence? Do you happen to have *any* evidence that supports ID? Wouldn’t that require you to have an ID theory in the first place? Might you possibly have one and have forgot to actually include it in your posts? Maybe then we can discuss how your evidence fits ID theory better than Evolution theory. But without a theory, ID is nothing in science.

I invite the bloggers here to warp the evidence all they want. In the end, it’s they who will lose. To all you others think for yourself and question authority!

:: yawn :: Creationists have been saying that for 150 years now. You’d think that, if they had a case, they would’ve managed to convince more than a small handful in such a length of time, particularly given the huge PR machines they have working for them.

Will you dare come back and answer this questions? Given that you are a cut and paste troll, I assume not, but for everything there are exceptions.

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

Why don’t you answer the questions, unnamed creationist visitor? Too afraid to admit that there is no theory of ID, no peer reviewed articles, no “majority” of scientists behind ID and so on and on all you other lies?

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

i still can’t figure out what’s wrong with atheism. i’m an atheist and proud of it.

i think evolution and atheism are definitely tied, because science and atheism are tied. religion is the opposite of science - aw man, i hate when people view things as dichotomies, and now i’ve done it. i should say, religion requires a denial of science. now, i know there are stupendously qualified scientists and experts on evolution who are religious and read and write on this very blog, but you can’t deny that even the barest superstition requires at least a tiny little bit of denial of science. most require a lot.

and by very tangiential extension, sort of, why is the origin of life something to be tiptoed around? everything about the universe that we can be sure of is continuous (not at the quantum level, but that’s not what i mean). why can’t we assume that the origin of life involves the chemical version of random mutation and natural selection of amino acids and proteins and whatnot? i’m not a scientist, but why do we assume there was some magic event that demarcated the end of lifelessness and the beginning of life? if there are scientists following this line of logic, why don’t i ever hear about it? you guys know what’s up. where can i find that information?

to get this back on topic, i agree with the above folks who say that half the damn movies in hollywood have anthropomophic animals and objects. those other movies don’t support the understanding of evolution. even if this movie uses genetic and evolutionary ideas underneath its story, i doubt very much that the general public will walk away with that.

i’m an atheist! i know evolution happened (happens (will continue to happen))!

I see a number of comments that apparently refer to a comment by someone calling him/herself Darwinists can’t face the truth.

However, I don’t see any actual comments by that person on this thread. Please tell me that Panda’s Thumb has not adopted Dembski tactics - deleting comments without explanation.

When I read arguments about the reality of the Jesus story, I’m reminded of the old joke about the English prof who decided that Shakespeare didn’t write Shakespeare. It was a different man with the same name. In the First Century, Palestine had as many Jesuses as the Dominican Republic does today so opportunites for misidentifications abound.

One thing is clear. Whether or not somebody named Jesus got crucified, the gospel version of what occurred is loaded with elaborations, many of them historically impossible. Drawing factual conclusions from such sacred histories is a chump’s game. Meanwhile, the oldest references to the crucifixion are in Paul’s epistles and have almost no biographical detail. Indeed, Paul’s Christ sounds more like a mythic than a legendary figure–Paul was pretty gnostic.

Meanwhile, no matter how you slice it, it doesn’t make sense that anybody’s death would have a remote-control good effect on anybody else. You have to be extremely superstitious to take that notion literally.

I saw the movie. Boy, that last line is bad, and poorly delivered.

Ah, now you’re talking real spoiler territory! It sounds like maybe they used the same last line as the 1933 version. A(n) (in)famous piece of movie dialogue, but barely excusable even in 1933, and Robert Armstrong reportedly didn’t want to say it, because he thought it was stupid.

Still, if you’re a fan of the original Kong, it’s hard to imagine a tribute/remake without it, anymore than you could imagine a film version of Hamlet without “To be or not to be…”

“Anthropoid” is not the right word, I’m afraid.

The Primates have three major subgroups: the tarsiers, the prosimians (including lemurs) and a third large group that must be what you are looking for, the simiiformes (sim-ee-if-FORM-eez). As far as I can tell, this group does not have a common name, but I don’t think it would be too far out to call the whole group “monkeys”. That naming strategy would force us to consider apes to be a derived kind of monkey.

If we want to exclude apes from monkey-dom, we face a different problem: the remaining simiiform primates no longer form a proper clade. The way it works is:

Simiiformes Catarrhini (“down-noses”) Cercopithecoidia (“Old World monkeys”) Hominoidea (apes, essentially, including us) Platyrrhini (“flat-noses” or New World monkeys)

You can see that the common ancestor of the group of animals we are used to calling “monkeys” is also our ancestor.

Perhaps a compromise solution would be to call the whole clade “simians”, split them into Old World simians and New World simians, and leave monkeys as a paraphyletic group. (In older usage, all simians were called “apes”, and the Hominoidea were distinguished as “great apes”.)

Darn, my beautiful tree didn’t come out well. Trying again:


So what happened to the term Anthropoidea? In my textbook, (Primate Adaptation and Evolution by John G. Fleagle) the platyrhines and catarhines are both within the suborder Anthropoidea (pg. 7). Has the suborder been renamed?

And yes, I’m well aware that this situation highlights the difficulty in categorizing organisms that are more truly a continum. I’m just curious to see if the term anthropoid is gone.

Continum read continuum.

Forget about the relevance of King Kong to evolution, giant carnivorous weta, humans and dinosaurs etc - my wife had the most to say about Ann Darrow wearing a skimpy dress and those shoes in the snow and climbing the ladder to the top of the Empire State Building!

Take the MP “Holy Grail” scene on the windswept gorge with the shaky rope bridge to the “other-side” and Lenny standing on the Bridge asking very (very, very[I’ll spare you a page full of ‘what’ from Watt**]) simple questions and the lost Knights either “get it” or are flung into the further reaches of despair

“What is your favorite color?”

“Blue. No … yelaaaaaAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!”


arrrrrgggghhhhhhhhh hhuurrrrrrrr KiwiInOz .….Ladders AND skimpy dresses NOW that brings out the BEAST in ME

Bayesian Bouffant, FCD: It’s a metaphor for original sin.

Plus, it is a reminder to use the ‘Preview’ button.

Hey, then why didn’t that apple come with a “Preview” button?

“Anthropoid” is not the right word, I’m afraid.

Well, crap. Of course, I did learn that in the same class that taught that the difference between prokaryotes and eukaryotes is that prokaryotes are unicellular and eukaryotes are multicellular, and repeatedly used lactose as an example of a protein.

Creationism 101?

Lenny wrote

The king-kong-sized weta would be impossible too —- not only because insufficient air would be able to diffuse into its spiracles. ;>

Let us not forget an even more basic fact: For all it’s evil look, Weta are actually vegetarians and wouldn’t have much of an interest in attacking people. :)

Let us not forget an even more basic fact: For all it’s evil look, Weta are actually vegetarians and wouldn’t have much of an interest in attacking people. :)

Same with gorillas, of course. ;>

Pierce R. Butler Wrote:

Hey, then why didn’t that apple come with a “Preview” button?

The Preview button should show up no matter which brand of computer you run your browser on.

Hey, then why didn’t that apple come with a “Preview” button?

Satan: Prince of Hacking.

Even with a 1.0 release, you’d think an OID (Omni-Intelligent Designer) would at least be capable of matching the feature set and fault-tolerance of KwickXML…

In the recent “intuition” neurons article, what ACW is calling Simiiformes and what Vandalhooch had thought was called Anthropoidea (an overarching label for the clade that includes all monkeys, apes, and humans) is apparently called Haplorrhini.

Can someone in the know explain the plethora and/or progression of these labels? Is there some underlying rationale–new science? newly included or excluded species? a new list of distinguishing features?–which explains the different usages? Thanks!

There’s an interesting article titled “The Biology Of King Kong” by David M. Ewalt at Forbes:

In the movie, Kong appears to be about 25 feet tall in a crouch–about seven times the height of an actual silverback gorilla. At that size, a very rough estimate tells us Kong would weigh anywhere from 20 to 60 tons. That would make it quite difficult for him to get around. “Given that Kong would be supporting his mass on two legs, I strongly doubt he’d be athletic at all. He might even have a hard time moving faster than a slow shuffle,” says Hutchinson. “In a worst case scenario, which is still quite likely, he couldn’t even stand. … The good news is that as long as he didn’t move around much, Kong could probably survive just fine. Giraffes are almost as tall and are more than able to keep their bodies running. … Of course, keeping a big body like that powered would require huge amounts of food. Since Kong is a mammal, his dietary requirements would be quite demanding. Larger animals tend to have lower metabolic rates, but it’s reasonable to expect that Kong would consume truckloads of food every day. Since an average adult male gorilla eats approximately 50 pounds of food daily–about one-eighth of its body weight–we can guess that Kong would need at least 7,500 pounds of food per day. …

Here’s another fun site, about the 1933 Kong movie.


I recently started working towards a PhD in evolutionary biology. Our department had our Xmas party today, and I took the opportunity to ask an expert. The prof I was talking to studies the evolution of primates from a genomic approach, mostly. In any event, he didn’t like the term “Simian” and preferred “Anthropoidea” to describe a clade inclusive of Old World Monkeys, New World Monkeys, Apes, and Hominids, but exclusive of Tarsiers and Lemurs. There was enough uncertainty in the conversation, though, that I got the impression he would like to consult some sources before putting that down as his answer officially. Also, it was a party and there was beer. So, I wouldn’t stand on this as unassailable truth.

PS: My first PT post! Yay!

The purpose of the Narnia books and movie is entirely different. They are meant to introduce readers and viewers to sophisticated theological concepts, such as talking animals.

Har har. Only the fact is, animals do talk. And post to BBS’s. In Narnia there are more talking species, that’s all. However, it must be pointed out they did not evolve by natural selection, they were genetically engineered by Aslan from the natural stock. CSL obviously wished to pre-empt any objections from biologists.

This post has spawned quite a large thread on the IMDB’s King Kong message board.[…]098#32529098

Anyone who would like to pitch in and set the creationists straight on a few issues are welcome.

They shuld make another KING KONG because this one was great.

They shuld make another KING KONG because this one was great.

They shuld make another KING KONG because this one was great.

Did anyone else see Darwin’s face in Kong’s sac? That is providence, people.

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This page contains a single entry by Dave Thomas published on December 14, 2005 12:22 PM.

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