Going Viral: Planet Of The Apes Video is Amusing. But is it Racist?


Viewed nearly 1.5 million times, the above “Ape with AK-47” video is in fact a viral ad for the upcoming 20th Century Fox film Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

The vid, which claims to be from the 20th Century Fox Research Library, was uploaded on the movie’s official YouTube channel, and links to an “Apes Will Rise” iTunes app: “Are you smarter than an ape? Challenge yourself with this memory test/iPhone app designed by scientists and tested on apes.”

But is featuring Africans handing an ape an AK-47 really the best idea for a viral — let along a major media conglomerate?[more]

The top up-voted comment on the video is “I don’t get it .. the monkey gave the guy an AK-47?”

For those who don’t quite get that reference, “ape” has a long history as a racial slur against African Americans.

Just three months ago, Orange County Republican Central Committee member Marilyn Davenport apologized after causing a stir for emailing around a photo with President Obama’s face photoshopped over that of a chimp with the text, “Now you know why no birth certificate.”

With the announcement of Fox’s new film, random jokes have been making their way around message boards about the film’s relation to the Obama Presidency. In fact, Google has already had a little embarrassing incident in this regard, offering “Michelle Obama” as a related search for “Zira planet of the apes.”

Just last year, Glenn Beck, followed up a clip of an Obama speech by saying “What planet have I landed on? Did I slip through a worm-hole in the middle of the night and this LOOKS like America?! It’s like the damn Planet of the Apes!” Then there are videos like this.

Nobody is calling the News Corp.-owned studio racist, but given all the potential directions it could have gone with a viral video, to leverage already existing stereotypes about Africans seems terribly misguided — not to mention one more ding on the News Corp. empire that Rupert Murdoch would like to wish never happened.