How Rousseau reminded me of George of the Jungle
As I was listening to Professor Lavaque-Manty lecture on Rousseau, his description of Rousseau’s state of nature reminded me of this movie I saw as a kid. Rousseau’s state of nature is that we can’t go back to our original state. We have developed too much, have learned language and have become products of civilization. Rousseau believes we have been alienated and corrupted of unreflective freedom and contentment. We talked in discussion how to go back to original state, we must become isolated and forget language, civilization, etc. like the depiction of cavemen in movies. So I began thinking, since we cannot go back to our “natural state” what it would be like if someone from the “natural state” if thrown into a “civilized world”. Rousseau thought that natural man is stronger than civilized man but what if the table’s were turned. The movie I began thinking of was a Disney movie about this caveman who falls in love with this civilized woman and moves back to a city (San Francisco) and has trouble adapting to civilization. Then the title of the movie hit me, George of the Jungle! Starring Brendan Fraser, its a totally unrealistic movie about George who was raised by apes (being the only survivor of a plane crash), who falls in love with Ursula, a civilized woman. Of course there are talking animals and George somehow learned to speak while he was being raised by apes. But his encounters with Ursula remind me of how a natural man might act when with a civilized person.
Now George is probably alot more civilized than what Rousseau thought of an ideal natural man but it’s still an interesting comparison. If you compare George with Lyle, her ex-fiance, you start to see how this is somewhat Rousseauian. Lyle is a rich pompous civilized man that shows off his property by flying in a private jet, going on exotic trips to Africa. Ursula and her fiance at the time, Lyle had encountered a lion and being the puny civilized man he was, ran away from his lady and left her to be eaten by the lion. George, the natural man swoops in and saves her, proving how more “natural man” will always be stronger than “civilized man”. Also if you compare Lyle and George you can see the difference psychologocially. George is in the original phase and gives simple self-love and compassion. Lyle has evolved and has become extremely egocentric and must amass property, etc. He’s also evil and ends up shooting George, being arrested and then breaking out and kidnapping Ursula eventually. This also shows how civilization has corrupted man and Rousseau would think we must go to simple times like George. You’ll be happy to know that George again saves Ursula and they live happily ever after in the jungle like all Disney movies. But I never thought a Disney movie could have so much in common with Rousseau.