In a very early point of the film, a black character grabs a script from Ann and proceeds to read it illiterately. He mispronounces "Driscoll" and even the word "theater" which is ironic since he works in one. Like I said in the opening, things like this are there for a reason in good films...they don't just "happen." Once onboard the ship, we see the Captain isn't just a ship for hire, but he's basically stealing exotic animals and selling them back in the U.S. This is very much slavery...as is what happens to Kong. Here's the stuff that really hit me though.
In a scene in New York, a big showdown takes place in front of the Hermitage Hotel. Why was this name sticking out to me?? It bugged me for the rest of the movie. I knew I had heard it before (Hermitage) but I didn't know where. When I got home, I googled it and it turns out Hermitage was Andrew Jackson's home in which he employed a good bunch of...you guessed it...slaves. Ironic? I doubt it. Hell, Jackson even knocked one of them up!
Normally, I tend to really reach when looking at a movie. It's fun to apply a say, "feminist reading" to a film or look at it as existential or post-modern. Admittedly, I can get out there. So while I was very much tuned into the whole "obsession" theme, that early scene with the illiterate black kid kind of flavored my viewing. It made me tune into the race element. I was willing to let it go (aside from the burning Hermitage question) until the closing scene of the movie. As Kong lies dead on the ground, a group gathers around to take photos and check him out. The camera cuts to two officers at the right side of the screen and on the left is a group of 3-4 people...one of which is a tall black man. The black man totally stands out...you can't miss him. One officer then looks to the other and says (something to the effect of) "I don't see what the big deal is....he's just a big, dumb animal." That just smacked of white views on blacks during slavery...hell, even now most likely.
So as I figured this out at 2 a.m., I couldn't wait to be the genius who unlocked the secret of Kong. The next day I google "king kong"+ racist and found 400,000+ people who were already smarter than me. Dammitt! Not only that, but David Edelstein at Slate kind of goes there as well. However, to the best of my knowledge I AM THE FIRST to publish these thoughts that are taken directly from the movie after opening night. I'm sure someone else will notice this (most like the brilliantly insane Armond White) but I'm saying I saw it and wrote about it first! If you notice anyone else ripping me off, alert my lawyers.