Nothing really solid here, just a small thread of thought. Well, this is a blog.
I notice jungle stories were to the 30s what westerns were to the 50s. I wonder what psychological need that would have been serving. There's the obvious idea of the jungle itself as an analogue to the stresses of the modern city in the Depression.
And a jungle is a place where--as in Tarzan--you might get away from it all, relying on your own wits, but not, like the West, a place where others might come and cities might be built, but rather a place to be alone or alone with your one true love or something. But also a place of fear, darkness and danger, and though "out there," also claustrophobic and hungry.
Whereas the West as thought of by the 50s--the roots of which in entertainment went back some ways but it was in the 50s it really dominated pop culture--as a fantasy of hope, mainly, of a country that thinks of itself as confidently going forward.
Both are "blank slate" fantasies in a way though, of civilization erased or made irrelevant so that one can write one's own destiny. (in that way LAWRENCE OF ARABIA is too this type of escapist narrative, though mostly true, as far as the viewer is concerned) One should then think of the post-ROAD WARRIOR type of apocalyptic-warrior fantasy that is now so ubiquitous and usually has zombies. Which we kill lots of. Fill in who fills that role in the previous iterations of the fantasy. It's all the same template, it's just the setting changes.
"Eternity with Beelzebub, and all his hellish instruments of death, will be a picnic compared to five minutes with me and this pencil." - E. Blackadder, 1791 Questionable
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