By N Oji Mzilikazi
30 June 2016
Before I came into consciousness, I love me some Tarzan. Yeah high, I was a silent witness to adult boys on the block discussing the latest Tarzan film as well as arguing who was the best Tarzan ever. The consensus was always Johnny Weissmuller.
Without having seen a Tarzan movie, I was proficient in Tarzan’s yell – that’s to tell you the degree of cinematic influence Tarzan had on us colonials.
Reading Edgar Rice Burroughs made Tarzan, like playing cowboys and Indians, an enjoyable part of my childhood. Then came 1970, The Black Power Movement, the analysis — piercing and rejection of the long-established “superiority” of the white cultural frame.
Tarzan tells the story of a white boy reared to manhood in the African jungle by great apes. His strength, speed, stamina, agility, reflexes, senses, flexibility, durability, endurance, and swimming are extraordinary in comparison to normal men.
Tarzan is able to communicate effortlessly with all the animals of the African jungle while the “Negro,” Africa’s indigenous human inhabitants are incapable of such communication. Furthermore, the “Negro” tribesmen are like little children, filled with fear and superstition and terrified of every and anything. Time and time again, it is the mighty respected and feared Tarzan that comes to their rescue as well as to the rescue of others – even if it is from evil white men.
Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “Tarzan” has always been a cultural reaffirmation of racism. Tarzan plants and reinforces the ideology that the white male is the dominant humankind, the white male is indispensable to the smooth operation of the world, and culturally and intellectually Blacks are children and primitive.
Hollywood and Television companies pimped Edgar Rice Burroughs books; adapted them into a series of films and television shows, shaping racist stereotypes, racist and distorted views of Africa and Blacks while upholding white superiority and the myth of the white savior.
Tarzan is racist to the core. That Hollywood in 2016 could reintroduce Tarzan; recycle this shytt, speaks volumes of its inherent racism and its willingness to pander to any racist concept to make a buck.
So bent was Hollywood to ignore the cultural insensitivity of Tarzan and make The Legend of Tarzan a success, they drafted the well-respect Samuel L. Jackson, in hope his presence would encourage Blacks to see the movie.
I am tempted to say shame on you Mr. Jackson, but I know if he didn’t do it, Hollywood would find another “Negro” to do so. Hungry people often have no qualms about enduring disrespect and/or abuse or betraying their values and principles in order to eat.
I hope The Legend of Tarzan flops.