Project Nim

What if I told you that we were not as alone as a species as you once thought? You would be intrigued right? Humans have always been fascinated with the idea of finding another creature like ourselves throughout history. We have looked for them in many places, from foreign lands to the unknowns of outer space. So, naturally, when posed with the idea that a common animal that can be found in any zoo could be so much like humans that it could learn grammar and language we would jump at the possibility. The documentary Project Nim outlines how a group of researchers pursued this possibility and initially ignored the signs of the inherent differences between the nature of the chimp and humans, and the differences between the chips sign language and human language. However, towards the conclusion of the documentary, it is explained that Nim didn’t display the ability to use grammar and “language”.  The purpose of the documentary Project Nim, however, is not simply to inform the audience of the study that took place. Rather, the film makes the argument that humans treat animals, especially chimps, with utter disregard for their will and well-being. Throughout the film, the humans are either depicted as treating Nim too much as a human or treating him like an unintelligent animal. The film relies heavily on pathos and ethos. Nim is portrayed as playful and loving, with a deep personality, and is even described as having “a soul”. This is done to explain to the audience why chimps should not be treated as lab rats like Nim was in LIMSIP. Additionally, Nim is shown as wild and untamed. This is done to argue that Nim should not be treated like a human as is done by Herb and his group of researchers. Ultimately, this films goal is to argue that because chimps are so similar to humans, they should have the right not to be treated as lab rats and tests subjects, but also should not be treated as a human and not be allowed to develop according to their inherent nature.

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