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Out for Blood in Kong: Skull Island} ?>
Be ye warned: spoilers ahead.
Fear is an effective motivator. The problem is that it doesn’t always motivate us toward what is right. In Kong: Skull Island, a very fearful man, Bill Randa, leads a federally funded “mapping expedition” just as the Vietnam War is wrapping up to a previously unknown island that he claims the Russians are about to get to. He’s granted a science team, military escort, and photographer, and hires an ex-British Special Forces tracker as well. Almost everyone on the expedition believes that they’re there to map and explore the island for the benefit of humanity. But, it’s later revealed that Randa’s true purpose is to hunt down and kill a monster, one that he suspected was living on the island.
I openly defy anyone who would dare call King Kong a monster—he is a good, kind, very large ape who has made it his life’s work to protect the people of his island. Naturally, he’s feared because he’s big—but anyone who would take the time to observe his behaviour would see immediately that he’s all about protecting the weak.
The first time we see Kong, he appears in front of two World War II pilots, born into nations at war with each other, who have crash landed on Skull Island and are facing off on a precipice. They are each trying to kill the other when Kong suddenly appears, towering over them. We don’t know exactly what happened next, but their encounter with Kong, who had no intention of harming them, made them brothers, and afterwards they found a new community to care for them in the native inhabitants of the island. They were placed in safety, while Kong kept every danger, in the form of vicious monsters who did want to eat them, away from them so that the island’s inhabitants could live in peace. When Randa’s expedition arrived, Kong’s power and care were misinterpreted and he became a target. People who claimed to be authorities tried to kill him; not because he was bad, but because they were afraid.
I’m just going to come out and say what we’re all thinking—that King Kong is really a big, hairy version of Jesus. We are all thinking that, right? Maybe? No?
Well, Randa sure wasn’t. And here’s why—in 1954, his ship was attacked by a monster in the ocean and it scared him so badly that he made it his mission, using the Monarch research, to find and neutralize all threats due to monsters. He had been hunting them for twenty years, and he was out for blood. Any monster he could find was going to pay for making him afraid. He was incapable of discerning a creature’s goodness—if you are big and potentially dangerous, you’re bad—period.
Randa was so convinced of his justification in hunting monsters that he led a more-or-less innocent and unwitting group of people into a danger of his own making. Kong became a threat to them because the expedition threatened the island that Kong protected. Even when it was clear that they were out to destroy him, Kong tried to keep the people safe from the “skull-walkers;” he put himself in harm’s way to save them.
There are parallels between the story of Kong and Jesus. Both were the true authority of their story, both were good and used their immense power to protect and care for the weak and needy, both put themselves at risk by continuing to care for their people when they were attacked, and both were the victims of other people’s fear.
One of the soldiers in the film remarks that sometimes we create enemies where there are none. Jesus’ own friend, Judas, was afraid that Jesus wasn’t really the son of God, so he betrayed him. Many other people in powerful positions were afraid that Jesus threatened their positions of authority. Even Pontius Pilate, the official who decided whether Jesus would live or die, was afraid that if he didn’t kill Jesus the people would revolt and he’d be seen by Rome as ineffective; so he let a man he knew was innocent die in the most horrific way. Any one of these people, had they put their fear aside and looked at what Jesus was really doing and saying—at the miracles he had performed and the messages of love, acceptance, and forgiveness he was giving—would have seen the truth. But, like Randa, they were blinded by their fear and called out for blood. And they didn’t just hurt the object of their fear in the process, but took several others down with them—fathers, friends, and comrades were all harmed or killed.
Fear is powerful. I often reflect on the decisions that I’ve made from a place of fear and who I’ve hurt. I may not shed blood, but I know that wounds from harsh words or inaction can run deep. I hope that, like the Japanese and American pilots who made peace when confronted by Kong, I’ll let my fear be the instigator to step back, see things as they are, and make life-giving choices instead of looking for blood.