In the 1967 rendition of Disney’s movie classic, The Jungle Book (based on a 1894 collection of stories by Rudyard Kipling), it has a scene featuring an ape by the name of “King Louie” (to be voiced by actor Christopher Walken in the remake), who was undeniably emulating the late, great Louis Armstrong…
Armstrong was an American jazz trumpeter & singer from New Orleans, Louisiana. He was well known for his distinct, gritty voice & scat-style of singing, of which both were mimicked by the King Louis of the Apes character, whose lyrics included wishes to be a real man.
African people have for a very long time been called & compared to monkeys, apes, gorillas & the likes [see Vogue’s take here on a previous post of mine]. I doubt that Mr. Walken will be able to do Armstrong’s voice the justice Louis Prima did anyways, but out of respect, i hope that they do not again use Armstrong’s styles of music for the character.
Now some may say, it’s just a kids movie, no harm was meant, but it must be taken into consideration, the impression that imagery & association has on young minds. There was intent here & it was not good. Also, take into account how long this movie has been around & how many generations have seen it, passing it down. This is just one amongst many ways that Africans have been portrayed as less than human over the years in the media.
One of the most recent ways, is in the major motion picture film, Lucy, in which the Australopithecus afarensis (Lucy) is featured as representing humankind as our supposed inferior, old selves – sub-human Africans – along with humankind’s currently supposed most evolved & now superior selves, the blue-eyed blonde. Yes, Morgan Freeman plays the role of an uber-smart scientist, yet it is still the main character whose mental capacity (albeit due to drugs) far surpasses his own.
It’s not just entertainment!!! It’s a sick mindset that’s been embedded deep into society for hundreds of years & it’s things like this – slick, subliminal racism – which are keeping white supremacy alive & well all over the globe….