January 25, 2010 | David F. Coppedge

Chimps Produce Movie

The BBC is going to air a movie made by chimpanzees.  (Note: This is not a Planet of the Apes remake.)  A primatologist working on her PhD gave some chimps at the Edinburgh zoo a “Chimpcam,” a camcorder in a “chimp-proof” box, to see what they would come up with.  “Despite the fact that the chimps had never taken part in a research project before, they soon displayed an interest in film-making,” the article said.
    The chimps did not seem particularly interested in the screenplay, though.  “The apes are unlikely to have actively tried to film any particular subject, or understand that by carrying Chimpcam around, they were making a film,” the news report ended.  “However, the result, as well as providing new information on how chimps like to see the world, may yet go down in television history.”  A portion of the footage, showing a chimp apparently licking the lens, accompanies the article.  They did not say what its rating will be. 

If it turns out anything like the Monkey Shakespeare experiment (05/12/2003), it should be rated PG, for primate gross.  They probably learned from the demolished typewriters that they had to chimp-proof the Chimpcam to avoid excrement from damaging the electronics.  If anything suggestive of “understanding” comes out on the tape, scientific objectivity would look into the possibility of coaching by the zookeepers, and the amount of judicious editing done by intelligent human engineers.
    This attempt could backfire into a series of legal challenges.  Other animals are ostensibly more intelligent than chimpanzees (05/26/2009).  They may claim that they were overlooked in the hiring.  Flipper, Heckel and Jeckel should call their agents and demand enforcement of equal employment opportunity laws.

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Categories: Dumb Ideas, Mammals, Media

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