The world of “Tarzan” and ours

In a searching review from yesterday’s The New York Times, critic Manohla Darghis writes in the concluding paragraph:

“Part of Tarzan’s appeal–at least to some–is that he inhabits a world that resembles ours, but without the unsettling distractions of real suffering. It’s become trickier for pop entertainments to gloss over historical traumas, which may be why so many modern colonial struggles involve deep space or an alien invasion. Perhaps it’s easier to rewrite history through futuristic fictions, where worlds can collide before everyone moves on. . .”

I wish Dargis had written more about the intersection of contemporary Hollywood’s vision with Tarzan’s creator Edgar Rice Burroughs’, and about why the blond, muddied, bare chested Alexander Skarsgard (in the role of Tarzan), is a called-for element of our twenty-first century visual culture. Utterly fictive images of transcendent white masculinity have to written, consumed, and rewritten, I guess. . .

tarzan-trailer-features-lots-of-shirtless-alexander-skarsgard-01

“Tarzan has always had bad optics–white hero, black land–to state the excessively, obvious,” quips Dargis.

No kidding, and suddenly Hollywood gets it, too!

If only this was a case of better late than never. . .

 

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Author: Jacqueline Francis

Writer, teacher, curator, and arts consultant in San Francisco, California. Follow me on Twitter @JackieFrancisSF

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