Uncanny coincidence or subliminal tour de force, Peter Jackson’s long awaited King Kong opens worldwide next Wednesday, or "Monkey Day," the five-year-old brainchild of Michigan artist and illustrator Casey Sorrow, 30, who’s mounted a worldwide campaign to have Dec. 14 set aside to honour our simian ancestry.
"The purpose," he states, "is to celebrate these noble creatures who embody the best of human characteristics, such as intelligence, family values, kindness, humour and compassion, while also promoting education and recognition of these simian species and their fragile habitat."
"It’s also a day," he adds, "to go ape."
"Scream like a chimp, hang out with your friends and pick fleas off each other; dress in your favourite simian attire and throw an ape-themed party. Whatever you find appropriate without being arrested."
Like many great ideas, Monkey Day first began as a lame joke. Some time in late 2000 on the Michigan State campus, for reasons unknown, then art student Casey Sorrow scribbled "Monkey Day" on a friend’s calendar. It became a running gag, but when the day arrived, they felt compelled to dress up as apes and head for the nearest bar where they promptly made monkeys of themselves.
From such humble beginnings, a tradition was born. "Everybody loves monkeys," Sorrow says happily. "Monkeys are great – they make people smile."
While rooted in the drunken debauchery of self-confessed hooligans with an affinity for monkey business, some have attached spiritual validation to Monkey Day as an evolutionary middle finger to the creationist holidays that permeate the month of December. "I’m no atheist," says Sorrow, "but sometimes it gets a little nauseating around Christmas. This is something you can just have fun with. It’s kind of hard to dress up as Jesus and get a few laughs."
The website, www.monkeyday.com, which has ape news, ape info and even ape-oriented recipes to celebrate the occasion, has attracted interest worldwide, but Sorrow had no idea this year’s Monkey Day would see the long-awaited release of King Kong.
"I just found out about it a few hours ago," he said. "We’re certainly happy to share the day with King Kong, but I wonder if Peter Jackson knew what he was doing?"