Hail to the chimp!

A vast left-wing conspiracy seems hellbent on promulgating the idea that the new Leader of the Free World resembles a chimpanzee.

Topics: George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, The New York Times,

Hail to the chimp!

A disturbing movement is sweeping across America’s amber waves of grain like a perverted prairie fire and it’s driving me bananas. The incoming chief executive is being insidiously attacked on the most basic level: species affiliation. Let’s call this evil campaign, which is backed, you can be sure, by the simpering, lefty, sore losers of the Fourth Estate, exactly what it is: “The Chimping of the President.”

Unlike the jillions of borderline communists strategically planted at media outlets throughout the country (each and every one of which has been funded by giant shipments of unmarked bills from the Clinton White House), I have no interest in information (the current hoity-toity name for “news”), no political affiliation, no ideology and, frankly, few strongly held opinions, unless you ask me how I’d like my steak done or whether I want the evening’s beverage shaken or stirred. I rarely see a newspaper that’s not wrapped around fish and chips.

Nevertheless, every now and then, while lining my budgie’s cage, I can’t help scanning the latest reports. The other day, Jan. 15, it was Page 12 of the New York Times. There, in what will no doubt be the first of many, was a drooling Texas-size hagiography of our new first gal titled “Laura Bush Sees Everything in Its Place, Including Herself.” (The piece began on Page 1, but needed two-thirds of the acreage on Page 12 to really break into a gallop.) The article was every bit as good as the Times’ Wen Ho Lee coverage, except for one of the pictures, the biggest one.

That photo — a jumbo portrait of Laura and her husband, measuring about 4 inches by 7 inches, taken by Mark Graham (not previously known for wildlife photography) — must have warmed the hearts of the Times’ photo editors as soon as they saw it; surely, they were beside themselves with glee. As a portrait of Mrs. Bush it’s fetching enough, albeit frighteningly Disneyesque. (She looks like a happy little forest animal or Snow White on nitrous oxide.) But on the downside, the photo captures our new president doing an uncanny and apparently unintentional imitation of a chimp — which brings me to my point.



Will the members of the media not give this unfortunately formed man a break? Must they point up his astonishing simian similarities every chance they get? Sure, there’s something curious about George, but good lord, it’s not his fault if he looks like he should be peering under Jane Goodall’s shirt in an Apple Computer advertisement or flying back to the castle of the Wicked Witch with Toto in his clutches.

Still, now that we’re on the subject, what is it with the GOP and apes? The party’s mascot is an elephant; yet consider the high-profile Republicans who’ve over the years had an odd and inexplicable association with Homo sapiens’ closest relative. Before his presidency, Ronald Reagan had an undistinguished acting career, with the exception of his haunting performance in 1951′s “Bedtime for Bonzo.” His co-star was a chimp. Noted Republican and NRA top gun Charlton Heston lit up the screen as Col. George Taylor in the 1968 classic “Planet of the Apes.” (As a tribute to the Bush administration, Tim Burton will direct a remake of “POTA” for release in summer 2001. Mark Wahlberg, party affiliation unclear, will star.) Clint Eastwood, a staunch Republican and one-time mayor of Carmel, Calif., co-starred in 1978′s “Every Which Way But Loose” with an orangutan. Just a bunch of silly coincidences? I think not.

But back to the problem at hand — there’s a well-coordinated effort afoot to discredit our new commander-in-chimp, I mean chief, by suggesting via the subliminable subtlety of caricature and photo selection that he’s a few plantains short of a plantation. (See the Jan. 22 New Yorker for Art Spiegelman’s inventory of illustrative unkindnesses already visited on Mr. Bush by various cartoonists whose loyalty to this country can only be termed tentative). Yes, members of the media, most of whom are not very nice (believe you me!), are having a good ol’ time with George W. and his propensity for striking chimplike poses whenever there’s a camera around. So be it. I say this plot’s destined to backfire.

Indeed, a few more President Chimp shots of Bush and we may find chimp fever sweeping the country. People will embrace the idea of a lovable Lord of the Apes swinging from the Oval Office’s chandeliers. After all the psycho-sexual intrigue of the last administration, citizens are ready for a screwball comedy in which there’s no screwing, starring a hapless King of the Jungle Texan who bumbled his way to the highest office in the land. (One phrase that will definitely not be heard in the Oval Office during the next four years: “Pet my monkey, touch him.”) And if that’s not enough to look forward to, those pictures of chimps wearing clothes and playing Texas hold ‘em are going to be coming back into vogue — big time!

Let the smarty-pants set mock our numero uno statesman all they wish. Let them try to make a monkey of him. I’m putting my money on this chimp thing’s becoming the new millennium’s first big style revolution. Forget all the talk about cowboy boots and barbeque once again dominating the world stage. Mark my words, “Planet of the Republicans” is about to do boffo box office.

Douglas Cruickshank is a senior writer for Salon. For more articles by Cruickshank, visit his archive.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët
    Kerascoët's lovely, delicate pen-and-watercolor art -- all intricate botanicals, big eyes and flowing hair -- gives this fairy story a deceptively pretty finish. You find out quickly, however, that these are the heartless and heedless fairies of folk legend, not the sentimental sprites beloved by the Victorians and Disney fans. A host of tiny hominid creatures must learn to survive in the forest after fleeing their former home -- a little girl who lies dead in the woods. The main character, Aurora, tries to organize the group into a community, but most of her cohort is too capricious, lazy and selfish to participate for long. There's no real moral to this story, which is refreshing in itself, beyond the perpetual lessons that life is hard and you have to be careful whom you trust. Never has ugly truth been given a prettier face.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni
    Squarzoni is a French cartoonist who makes nonfiction graphic novels about contemporary issues and politics. While finishing up a book about France under Jacques Chirac, he realized that when it came to environmental policy, he didn't know what he was talking about. "Climate Changed" is the result of his efforts to understand what has been happening to the planet, a striking combination of memoir and data that ruminates on a notoriously elusive, difficult and even imponderable subject. Panels of talking heads dispensing information (or Squarzoni discussing the issues with his partner) are juxtaposed with detailed and meticulous yet lyrical scenes from the author's childhood, the countryside where he takes a holiday and a visit to New York. He uses his own unreachable past as a way to grasp the imminent transformation of the Earth. The result is both enlightening and unexpectedly moving.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Here by Richard McGuire
    A six-page version of this innovative work by a regular contributor to the New Yorker first appeared in RAW magazine 25 years ago. Each two-page spread depicts a single place, sometimes occupied by a corner of a room, over the course of 4 billion years. The oldest image is a blur of pink and purple gases; others depict hazmat-suited explorers from 300 years in the future. Inset images show the changing decor and inhabitants of the house throughout its existence: family photos, quarrels, kids in Halloween costumes, a woman reading a book, a cat walking across the floor. The cumulative effect is serene and ravishing, an intimation of the immensity of time and the wonder embodied in the humblest things.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer
    The legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist delivers his debut graphic novel at 85, a deliriously over-the-top blend of classic movie noir and melodrama that roams from chiaroscuro Bay City to Hollywood to a USO gig in the Pacific theater of World War II. There's a burnt-out drunk of a private eye, but the story is soon commandeered by a multigenerational collection of ferocious women, including a mysterious chanteuse who never speaks, a radio comedy writer who makes a childhood friend the butt of a hit series and a ruthless dame intent on making her whiny coward of a husband into a star. There are disguises, musical numbers and plenty of gunfights, but the drawing is the main attraction. Nobody convey's bodies in motion more thrillingly than Feiffer, whether they're dancing, running or duking it out. The kid has promise.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis
    This is a weird one, but in the nervy surreal way that word-playful novels like "A Clockwork Orange" or "Ulysses" are weird. The main character, a teenage schoolboy named Scarper Lee, lives in a world where it rains knives and people make their own parents, contraptions that can be anything from a tiny figurine stashable in a pocket to biomorphic boiler-like entities that seem to have escaped from Dr. Seuss' nightmares. Their homes are crammed with gadgets they call gods and instead of TV they watch a hulu-hoop-size wheel of repeating images that changes with the day of the week. They also know their own "death day," and Scarper's is coming up fast. Maybe that's why he runs off with the new girl at school, a real troublemaker, and the obscurely dysfunctional Castro, whose mother is a cageful of talking parakeets. A solid towline of teenage angst holds this manically inventive vision together, and proves that some graphic novels can rival the text-only kind at their own game.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    NOBROW 9: It's Oh So Quiet
    For each issue, the anthology magazine put out by this adventurous U.K.-based publisher of independent graphic design, illustration and comics gives 45 artists a four-color palette and a theme. In the ninth issue, the theme is silence, and the results are magnificent and full of surprises. The comics, each told in images only, range from atmospheric to trippy to jokey to melancholy to epic to creepy. But the two-page illustrations are even more powerful, even if it's not always easy to see how they pertain to the overall concept of silence. Well, except perhaps for the fact that so many of them left me utterly dumbstruck with visual delight.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Over Easy by Mimi Pond
    When Pond was a broke art student in the 1970s, she took a job at a neighborhood breakfast spot in Oakland, a place with good food, splendid coffee and an endlessly entertaining crew of short-order cooks, waitresses, dishwashers and regular customers. This graphic memoir, influenced by the work of Pond's friend, Alison Bechdel, captures the funky ethos of the time, when hippies, punks and disco aficionados mingled in a Bay Area at the height of its eccentricity. The staff of the Imperial Cafe were forever swapping wisecracks and hopping in and out of each other's beds, which makes them more or less like every restaurant team in history. There's an intoxicating esprit de corps to a well-run everyday joint like the Imperial Cafe, and never has the delight in being part of it been more winningly portrayed.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
    You don't have to be a superhero fan to be utterly charmed by Yang and Liew's revival of a little-known character created in the 1940s by the cartoonist Chu Hing. This version of the Green Turtle, however, is rich in characterization, comedy and luscious period detail from the Chinatown of "San Incendio" (a ringer for San Francisco). Hank, son of a mild-mannered grocer, would like to follow in his father's footsteps, but his restless mother (the book's best character and drawn with masterful nuance by Liew) has other ideas after her thrilling encounter with a superhero. Yang's story effortlessly folds pathos into humor without stooping to either slapstick or cheap "darkness." This is that rare tribute that far surpasses the thing it celebrates.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Shoplifter by Michael Cho
    Corinna Park, former English major, works, unhappily, in a Toronto advertising agency. When the dissatisfaction of the past five years begins to oppress her, she lets off steam by pilfering magazines from a local convenience store. Cho's moody character study is as much about city life as it is about Corinna. He depicts her falling asleep in front of the TV in her condo, brooding on the subway, roaming the crowded streets after a budding romance goes awry. Like a great short story, this is a simple tale of a young woman figuring out how to get her life back, but if feels as if it contains so much of contemporary existence -- its comforts, its loneliness, its self-deceptions -- suspended in wintery amber.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
    This collection of archetypal horror, fairy and ghost stories, all about young girls, comes lushly decked in Carroll's inky black, snowy white and blood-scarlet art. A young bride hears her predecessor's bones singing from under the floorboards, two friends make the mistake of pretending to summon the spirits of the dead, a family of orphaned siblings disappears one by one into the winter nights. Carroll's color-saturated images can be jagged, ornate and gruesome, but she also knows how to chill with absence, shadows and a single staring eye. Literary readers who cherish the work of Kelly Link or the late Angela Carter's collection, "The Bloody Chamber," will adore the violent beauty on these pages.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>