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Planet of the Apes 40th Anniversary : The Wisdom of Zaius
© Deanna Toxopeus
January 01, 2009

Oh, Dr. Zaius, simian elder statesman of the Planet of the Apes. You may not have gotten the love from the ladies the way Cornelius did, but you were the wisest. Your words were deep, but usually contained some kind of dry putdown. You knew how to keep the lesser apes in their place.

We examine the top five truths ever said by the great ape. Or should that be: the greatest ape.

5. Never forget. The free ape is he who does not fear to go to the end of his thought. ("Return to the Planet of the Apes: Flames of Doom #1.1," 1975)

How Zen-like, Dr. Zaius. This should be on a coffee mug or one of those motivation posters in the conference room.

4. Don't look for it, Taylor. You may not like what you find. (Planet of the Apes, 1968)

So deep and profound it is referenced in an X-Files episode. And how true is that statement? Like the time I went looking for some lunch containers that my husband forgot to take out of his bag over the Christmas holidays. I indeed did not like what I found. If only I heeded Zaius.

3. Ah, yes. The young ape with a shovel. I hear you're planning another archeological expedition. Cornelius, a friendly word of warning: as you dig for artifacts, be sure you don't bury your reputation. (Planet of the Apes, 1968)

Oh, how witty. How erudite. How douchebagish. Zaius comes off as the popular girl in a Lindsay Lohan movie putting the ugly-duckling heroine down. We know it's mean and we know it's cruel, but it is so true. We also wish that we had been the ones who said it, or that at least we could think of a better comeback rather than just stare at the tops of our second-hand Air Jordans.

2. You are a menace. A walking pestilence. (Planet of the Apes, 1968) I found myself using these exact same words about the neighborhood kids when I saw the mess they left on my front lawn. Damn, dirty kids!

1. You ask me to help you? Man is evil! Capable of nothing but destruction! (Beneath the Planet of the Apes, 1970)

This is a profound statement about mankind. Have you been to the mall on Christmas Eve? Maddened shoppers dashing about, trying to find the perfect gift for Aunt Rita, who just called to say she was coming after saying last month that she couldn't, oh, and could she bring little Muffins who needs a gift too? That is when you will see humanity at its most raw. Zaius knew.

To suggest that we can learn anything about the simian nature from a study of Deanna Toxopeus is sheer nonsense.

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