100 years ago, Americans were kind of obsessed with cavemen. There’s a lot more to be done to unpack the complex intertwinings of race/gender/sexuality in this spate of films featuring cavemen than I can do in this blog, but I point interested readers toward some scholarly texts below.
This story looks and sounds a lot like D. W. Griffith’s Man’s Genesis, released the previous year. In both films, two cavemen battle it out for the affections of the girl. And in both films, the girl chooses the man with the intellectual acumen over the man who displays superior brute strength.
Mariana Torgovnick’s book’s Gone Primitive: Savage Intellectuals, Modern Lives and Primitive Passions: Men Women and the Quest For Ecstasy are a good place to start.
Though I haven’t read it and can’t yet vouch for it, Martha McCaughey’s The Caveman Mystique seems promising as a text that may help contextualize these films in the context of popular Darwinism.
Finally, for the truly ambitious, Donna Haraway’s Primate Visions, Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science,
though it focuses on primatology, is probably the best work out there which is as smart about its analysis of popular cultural texts as it is about scientific discourse.