Devolution of Charlton Heston or The Return to the
Planet of the N.R.A.pes
August 9, 2001
WARNING! If you haven't seen the original 1968 Planet
of the Apes and don't want to know what happens at the
end, then read no further. However, if you don't mind having
this classic piece of cinema ruined for you, read on!
The central plot of the original Planet of the Apes concerns
the twisting of modern day evolutionary theory, with talking
apes and mute humans. The question concerning Charlton Heston,
star of the original Apes movie is: Is his movie career and
life evolving or devolving? He has gone from being an A list
actor, Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt in the Ten Commandments,
and Ben Hur a slave fighting for his own freedom, to an B
movie actor, in sci-fi films like Planet of the Apes and Soylent
Green. Worse yet, he has gone on to become the mouthpiece
of the N.R.A., and in turn the N.R.A. has gone on to devalue
and undermine the Second Amendment, the very part of the Constitution
which they contend they are protecting.
The original Planet of the Apes, as B movie science fiction
goes, is not a bad movie at all. The screenplay was written
by Rod Serling, famous for his work on the Twilight Zone TV
series. The story deals with George Taylor, (Heston) a loner
astronaut, who is sick of the world of the late 20th century
and yearns for something better. So he volunteers for a time
warp experiment and jets grumpily into the future. What he
finds after he crash lands on the planet, is a bunch of mute
humans being dominated by ruthless gorillas. Heston is also
made mute by a gorilla bullet though the throat, which is
good news for those of us not enamored by his prodigious overacting,
which is very much on display in this movie. Heston is rescued
from the gorillas by 2 chimps, and learns to use his vocal
cords again, when at the end of a long chase scene, he utters
the famous line "Get your hands off me you damned, dirty apes!"
This was a sort a human Declaration of Independence in Apeland,
not to mess with humans, at least not Heston.
Chuck finally wins his freedom and goes off on horseback
to learn of his destiny. What is his destiny, you ask? He
finds the Statue of Liberty while riding on the beach in this
Planet of the Apes, and then the awful realization comes to
him. This was not some far off planet he flew to but good
old Earth, blown to smithereens in a final cataclysmic nuclear
war. Wait a minute? Our friend Chuck Heston, conservative
hero, in a movie with an anti-nuclear theme? Say it ain't
so! If you look closer, however, there is a very conservative
theme here. When he escaped for the last time, he did so on
horseback and with a rifle. He did not outwit the gorillas,
he simply outshot, them and took Dr Zaius, his orangutan nemesis,
hostage until granted his freedom. All hail the all powerful
gun, and good old Charlton who isn't afraid to use it!
In the new version of Planet of the Apes, Charlton is back,
not as old Taylor, but as an old ape. Further evidence of
his devolution, he goes from man to ape in 30 years time.
He tells his ape son that man was here before the talking
apes, and was technologically superior to any ape. What does
he show his ape son as proof of this technological superiority?
A supercomputer small enough to fit in the palm of one's hand?
No. A fantastic medical vaccine that cured many human diseases?
No. The old ape that Heston plays, shows his ape son a gun,
and says "This has the power of a thousand spears." Hooray!!!
The gun lobby lives! In Hollywood, no less. So much for Hollywood
being a a liberal bastion. Oh well, there's always Vermont!
It would be enough punishment to hear Charlton Heston's pro
gun views echoed in his movies, but he feels that he can do
so much more, and so he is currently President of the NRA,
or the National Rifle Association. On June 5th 1998, Heston
was named to head the NRA, an organization known for it's
second amendment absolutism. This is an organization that
comes out against banning AK-47's and armor piercing "cop
killer" bullets, all so the rights of hunters and sportsmen
can be preserved. Please!!! Spare me!
In May of 1999, the NRA outraged many by holding its convention
in Denver, two weeks after the Columbine school shootings.
In May of 2000, Heston told NRA enthusiasts at a convention
that Al Gore would have to rip his gun from "his cold dead
hands." What he was saying, in other words was, "Get your
hands off my guns, you damned dirty liberals!" Despite it's
horrible timing and lousy Hollywood theatrics, the political
power of the NRA is unquestioned. The National Rifle Association
has around 3 million members, and many of those members are
single issue voters, and they undoubtedly proved to be Dubya's
most loyal constituency in a razor tight election. Or should
I say selection?
Further proving the point that the NRA is nothing more than
a political arm of the Republican Party was a quote from NRA
first Vice President Kayne Robinson saying "if (the Republicans)
win, we will have a President where we can work out of the
White House." And damned if that prediction hasn't come true.
Just this week, the Bush administration announced that it
was defunding the Clinton administration's gun buyback program.
This was a program begun by Clinton HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo
(the Cuomo that doesn't mind holding Federal Office). The
gun buyback program took approximately 20,000 guns off the
streets in two years, in 80 cities around the country, so
naturally it had to be stopped. It was far too successful,
and far too obtrusive of the NRA motto of a concealed weapon
in every purse or fanny pack. Current HUD Secretary MLE Martinez
said the money could be used more effectively by HUD in other
areas, but the rank stench of political payback is in the
air, it is like the smell of apes who haven't washed in a
As if to add injury to insult, in the same week, Attorney
General Ashcroft said that he wanted to throw away all the
criminal background checks on gun owners after only one day,
as opposed to the current 90 day waiting period. Apparently,
Ashcroft is too busy reading the Bible in public prayer meetings
to be bothered with reading criminal background checks. Law
enforcement officials strongly disagree with Ashcroft's view
here, saying they need much more time than a day to conduct
criminal background checks. A day to conduct criminal background
checks, is Ashcroft nuts? Or is this another example of political
payback gone mad? To paraphrase Heston in the Planet of the
Apes, when he was being jailed by the apes, "It's a madhouse!!!
To prove how much Ashcroft is in bed with the gun lobby,
one need not go any further than a May 17, 2001, memo he wrote
to the NRA. Ashcroft says "that while some may argue that
the Second Amendment guarantees the collective right for the
states to maintain a militia, I believe the original intent
prove otherwise." The Second Amendment of the Constitution
clearly states that the right to bear arms, in a well regulated
militia shall not be infringed. It is the well regulated militia
part that most conservatives leave out and therefore misconstrue
the intent of the founding fathers. This misrepresentation
undermines the intent of the framers, by saying every nut
job and criminally insane wacko has the right to a gun. And
now add John Ashcroft to the list of people who misunderstand
the Second Amendment. The only difference is, Ashcroft is
the top law enforcement official in the country.
It is my firm belief that something happened to Charlton
Heston during the shooting of the first Planet of the Apes
movie. Somewhere in the back of his mind a little voice tells
him that unless he holds on to his gun, with both hands, the
world is going to be taken over by talking apes. Does this
sound like paranoid ravings? Welcome to the world of the NRA,
where liberal conspiracies abound at every corner. Unfortunately
the voice of the NRA is gradually becoming the voice of our
government, which can only be bad news for "damned dirty liberals"