Welcome to the newest edition of The Why. “Why do they call him Donkey Kong if he is not a donkey?” you ask? Good question. (At least it beats the heck out of answering the question: “Why does it hurt when I pee?”)
Cursory research reveals it was not a translation issue. Nor was it a spelling error. But before we lose anyone not into video games, let’s review. Donkey Kong is the ape antagonist in the now classic video game of the same name.
It was invented by Shigeru Miyamoto and released in 1981 by Nintendo. Inspired by the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, in the game a giant ape (named Donkey Kong) captures a young lady and her carpenter boyfriend must rescue her by making his way through the skeleton of an unfinished building. As he attempts to save the day he must avoid various obstacles such as rolling barrels thrown at him by the angry ape. According to Snopes the game was a success in both Japan and America and brought in “$100 million for Nintendo of America in its first year alone.”
Why was the angry ape named Donkey Kong? We’ve already covered the erroneous legends involving poor translations and spelling errors. Before we get down to it, let’s see what our friends at “YahooAnswers” came up with, shall we?
One poster whose name was spelled in something untranslatable said the big monkey is named Donkey Kong “because you can’t call him ‘@ss Kong’ because of the kids.” “PACIELLO” believes the creature is a horrible half-breed: “He’s mixed. Like molatos and Tiger Woods. No one really knows what the h@ll he is.”
“?” thinks along similar lines claiming that Donkey Kong is named after a donkey “’cause he has donkey genitals.” (Mind you, he was not the only one to make such suggestions. “Scrooge” also thought along similar lines noting that the creature is named Donkey because “he is famous for doing donkeys.”
Video games help your hand-eye coordination. No one ever said they make you smart or give you common sense, mmmkay? The truth is the character’s creator, Miyamoto, specifically chose the English word “donkey” to convey the beast’s stereotypical stubbornness and/or stupidity. Kong, of course was chosen because in Japan “King Kong” has evolved into a generic term for any big ape. Therefore, Donkey Kong is a stubborn big ape.
Why do they call him Donkey Kong if he is not a donkey? Now you know.
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