The memories of the chimpanzee in Jordan Peele’s “No” are perhaps more poignant because of the idea that Gordy’s attack may be based on a true story. One of the most memorable scenes in a horror movie follows a chimpanzee named Gordy who goes on a rampage on the set of the fictional sitcom “Gordy’s House.” Although the event depicted in Nope is not officially based on any real events, it was probably inspired by one real tragedy, with which it has many parallels.
One of the prevailing themes of the “No” Saw is that dangerous animals should be treated with a high degree of respect. This is illustrated by the parallel between the trained horses owned by Haywood Hollywood Horses and the Gordy chimpanzees, which are used for entertainment purposes, despite the fact that they are pushed to the limit. More importantly, however, the connection between entertainment and exploitation is revealed in the true nature of the film’s villain, Jean Jacket, a flying saucer-like creature that eats horses and humans alike. Jupe, the only survivor of the chimpanzee attack, is looking for Jean Jacket because he completely misunderstands the reason why Gordy spared him. Because of this, he tries to use the spectacle of Jean Jacket for entertainment and monetary gain. Jean Jacket, like Gordy before him, is disrespectful and lashes out, demonstrating that Knope’s opening biblical quote about equating spectacle with dirt sets out the main theme of the film.
Link: 1 Jupe’s Hidden Easter Egg Foreshadowed Knope’s Pivotal Finale
Although it has not been confirmed as a direct inspiration, Gordy’s attack in Knope’s memoir is probably based in part on the true story of Travis, a real-life chimpanzee who went on a rampage. Having been bought and taken from his mother at just three days old, Travis soon became an animal actor, appearing as a guest in television shows and commercials for brands such as Coca Cola and Old Navy. His owners, Sandra and Jerome Herold, had a deep emotional attachment to him, and Sandra Herold even slept in the same bed with him. Travis had a local reputation for being careful and behaving well among people, as he had been accustomed to it all his life, but in 2009 Travis shamefully attacked and maimed Charla Nash, one of the Herald’s close friends, severely disfiguring her in the process.
Gordy’s Rampage is Probably Based on a Real Tragedy
Gordy is not an alien, but his ties to the UFO villain Knope remain. They are both victims of exploitative entertainment, and Travis the chimpanzee is no exception. His parallels with Gordy are obvious; Travis and Gordy were both animal actors, both fell into a destructive frenzy, and both were shot. Although the circumstances of their violent episodes were very different, the fictional incident involving Gordy seems like a deliberate callback to Travis trying to illustrate the exploitative nature of the entertainment industry.
However, the parallels do not end there. While Jupe was able to remain unharmed (perhaps because he focused on the shoe standing upright during Gordy’s attack, instead of looking him in the eye), his co-star Mary Jo Elliott was less fortunate. An elderly Mary Jo later attends Jupe’s live UFO show, covering her scarred face with a veil. Just as Gordy resembles Travis’ chimpanzee, Mary Jo is a reflection of Travis’ real-life victim, Charla Nash, who was left blind and suffered many serious injuries. While Jupe invites Mary Jo Elliott as a gesture of kindness, it can be argued that he is also taking advantage of her condition by exposing her in public, where she even wears her photo before the accident on her sweater.
“No” is by far one of the best horror films of 2022, and that’s thanks to the fantastic visuals, gripping storytelling and intense sensations. The most important part of all these factors is the story of Gordy, which raises questions about whether it is possible to argue that “No” itself turns a real tragedy into a performance, drawing so many parallels with the real story of Travis. However, the film clearly shows that the reason for these tragic scenarios is actually the exploitative nature of the entertainment industry.