Literature was one of my favourite subjects in O’Level. I didn’t excel in it, but it was fun because I got to read stories or ‘perform’ while we went through the plays. I realized a little later that the key to doing a damn good job within the subject is to possess an analytical mind and never to take stuff at face value.
It is a skill that has served me well in the years beyond the short shorts of academia and is what has helped me decipher the subtext in the trailer for Disney’s “The Jungle Book” movie.
At first glance, it looks your ordinary jungle scene; kid running, animals pursuing him and then it hits you; this is about the Human Race. The Black people, who some regard as animals seem to be lagging behind the white man erm child.
It’s easy to run to the conclusion that Jon Favreau is being racist, but its actually a critique of the human condition that he has managed to disguise very cleverly.
We also see that the black man doesn’t strive harder after making it past the white man. Does he stay hungry? Does he try to outpace the white man-child? No. He is content with being a few steps ahead of him talking about food. And then we see the white man moving ahead of him.
Enter the tiger… I’m not sure what race is being shown in the next scene…. But what’s clear is that it’s fighting the black race as the white one watches from the sidelines. In fact, it could be argued that this is a veiled nod at Batman’s input in the fight between Doomsday and the super powered beings in that other movie.
One has to wonder whether this is a director showing the world that he is well aware of the US’s tendency not to intervene in matters beyond its borders until they directly affect the greatest nation in the world.
A question that arises when the black man… I mean animal, has been wounded and can no longer offer any distraction protection forcing the white child to flee and, in a move that is easy to miss, jump to conclusions.
Actually, the white man does a lot of running… but we see that he is not afraid of getting his hands dirty… as long as he is not seen.
However, we see a patriotic side of Jon Favreau come through when he shows that the white man is not averse to taking the bull by the horns when things get tough.
There’s a scene that speaks to the treachery that the white person has to face. And what makes it even more brutal is the fact that this treachery comes looking for the white man when he is ‘just there’ minding his own gaddam business. This scene features a snake that sounds a lot like a sentient computer Operating System. I’d go on in greater detail but I’m sure you’re all familiar with her.
However, this very scene poses the question, are all snakes women, or, are all women snakes. This calls for subjectivity as no one answer can address the duplicitous nature of snakes or humankind.
A theme that’s been prevalent in many movies before this is further explored. The white man offering the rest of the world ‘light’ or wisdom. What makes this particularly poignant is the fact that in this scene, the white man is willing to share the light with his sworn enemy; Tiger race… I’m starting to pick up some odd Oriental undertones here.
The director also alludes to the day we shall all be united and leave in harmony. We can also achieve a lot together when we put our heads together. This is not even masked. It is right there in black and white…speaking of, Black and White; we are supposed to be friends after all. This, I believe is the message the movie is trying to advance.
I’m not sure I’ve seen this much jumping in one ad