Because apes seem most like humans, science fiction has used them as a mirror in which to view ourselves. The philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau saw in orangutans the original, natural man, uncorrupted by society. Meanwhile most of his contemporaries used apes to embody racially charged fantasies of bestial brutality. These conflicting views shaped the numerous versions of King Kong and the Planet of the Apes films, which the lecture will use to look at evolving images of humanity.
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