What better venue for a spot of academic deconstruction than a French museum? The Musee du Quai Branly in Paris has chosen to grapple with Edgar Rice Burroughs's chest-beating, vine-swinging, loin-cloth sporting creation: Tarzan.
Is Tarzan, the exhibition organisers ask, an admirably uncomplicated child of nature of whom Jean-Jacques Rousseau might have approved? Or does he represent the dream of colonial domination, as he bends the jungle environment to his Western will? Or could Tarzan be a proto-ecological crusader, warding off developers like a muscular Swampy?
One suspects that there is an element of all these things in his make-up, which explains his popular appeal. It is an appeal that remains undimmed, not least because here is one unkempt, shaggy-haired celebrity who, we can be confident, will always resist the television producers' siren offer of a makeover.Reuse content