My name is Kevin Shaughnessy and I love monkeys. The spotlight monkeys this week are the 28 Days Later apes. I have a friend who loves zombie movies, and he tells me that those films have always been a reflection of society’s contemporary worries, from the death of the nuclear family in the 50’s to the rise of consumer culture in the 70’s. In 28 Days Later a group of eco-terrorists free some chimps from a laboratory, and as a result of this act of terrorism, the zombie germ the chimps are carrying infect all of England. Watching these terrorists and their terrorism makes me think that today’s society largely fears one thing: monkeys.

As you can imagine, this upsets me very much. Whether this worldly anxiety comes from a fear that all primates are disease-born or simply that they are so out of control they must be kept in cages, neither could be farther from the truth. Minus the 1920’s case where monkey cholera wiped out the entire animal population of all traveling carnivals on the eastern seaboard, most of the infirmities that monkeys suffer from (excluding AIDS) are limited to the species and would effect humans no more severely than the common cold.

Secondly, it is obvious to me that monkeys are not so “beastly” that they cannot be released from captivity. For instance, the Japanese Macaque is a race of monkey so genial that star Cameron Diaz owns one. She met hers, named Hiriko, on the set of My Best Friend’s Wedding (the DVD contains the alternate ending of Diaz relating her character’s misfortunes to the monkey at a Los Angeles bar). Hiriko is certainly not kept behind bars. In fact, during press for Gangs of New York, Diaz mentioned that Hiriko serves her tea every morning. My name is Kevin Shaughnessy and I love monkeys.