Tales of the Gold Monkey 1.4 – Legends are Forever

“Legends are Forever” is pretty much exactly what I thought this show would be like when firing on all cylinders. I know it can’t be as silly and fun as this every week, but, with the caveat that the television of forty years ago was a little more willing to embrace stereotypes, this was really watchable and entertaining.

This time, an old pal of Jake’s shows up in Boragora with a very unlikely story: there’s an African tribe that resettled on a nearby island several decades ago. One of their representatives has been looking for help shipping medical supplies and quinine to combat an outbreak of malaria. This seems so very unlikely that Bon Chance Louie decides to join the expedition. What they find is really neat: the narrative of one of those H. Rider Haggard books about King Solomon’s Mines is true, and a tribe did move from Africa to live in a Pacific Island volcano among the clouds, accessible only by a long bridge. However, this tribe has been in a very long war of attrition with a local tribe called the Bogas, who resent the Africans moving into their islands. Since the malaria has several of the tribe’s warriors too sick to fight, the Bogas are starting to get the upper hand, and just getting the supplies up the mountain looks impossible.

Perhaps it’s just my 21st Century eyes, but I really didn’t like the Bogas being portrayed as violent ooga-booga types armed with an infinite supply of poisoned darts. It seemed too much like they were mindlessly violent just so our “modern” heroes are justified in gunning them down. So that feels like it’s aged really, really badly, even if some of the few remaining uncontacted tribes on our planet are also known in reality to be really aggressive toward interlopers. We talked a little with our son about this.

One downside about taking inspiration from larger-than-life heroes and treasure hunters like Allan Quartermain – as both Raiders of the Lost Ark and this series did – is that those heroes came from a world of colonialism and patronizing attitudes toward “lost world” natives. You can’t really get the search for lost gold without the attitude within the narrative that it’s the white educated man’s mission to find it. It entertained, but it also aggravated. Getting older’s like that sometimes.

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