What Does The Chimp In “Nope” Mean?

First thing’s first, major Nope spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned.

Jordan Peele’s latest sci-fi horror film Nope follows a brother-sister duo (Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer) who attempt to photograph the alien presence terrorizing their horse ranch. If they succeed in getting what they refer to as the “Oprah shot,” they could possibly save the family ranch from financial ruin.

Jordan Peele loves animals. Remember the deer in Get Out? The bunnies in Us? Nope features horses and a chimpanzee. But unlike his first two films, the animals in Nope play a bigger role to this story.


Universal Pictures

When asked about the animal touches in his film, Peele describes the use as “a reminder of how we treat anything that doesn’t qualify as human” in an interview with Fox Washington DC. “There’s a real world horror that animals are trapped in. I think in some ways they symbolize something very bad about us.”

The film’s opening scene introduces the audience to a chimp sitting next to what seemed to be a dead body.


Twitter: @JordanPeele / Via Twitter: @JordanPeele

As the movie progresses we learn that the chimp is Gordy from the fictional sitcom within Nope’s universe, Gordy’s Home.

During the filming of a birthday-themed episode, Gordy quite literally goes apeshit at the sound of balloons popping, sending him into a violent fit attacking the cast — except for young Ricky, who hides under the table during the massacre.


Twitter: @JordanPeele / Via Twitter: @JordanPeele

He doesn’t make eye contact, which OJ Haywood (Kaluuya) continuously suggests people not do with the horses he trains, as well as with the alien presence later in the movie.

Gordy eventually sees Ricky hiding and turns to him in friendship, extending his fist to bump Ricky’s they way their characters do on the show — but he gets shot down before making contact.


Universal Pictures / Via giphy.com

As an adult, Ricky — who also goes by “Jupe” and is played by Steven Yeun — spends his adult life capitalizing off of his childhood trauma. He shows the Haywoods his secret closet full of Gordy’s Home memorabilia, which he charges a fee for superfans to admire. Even during his retelling to the Haywood siblings about the day Gordy went mad, he reminisces almost gleefully, recounting how SNL got it right. He might have convinced himself that, after Gordy’s moment of rage, he saw Jupe as a trustworthy ally.

So when an alien shows up in his neighborhood, Jupiter thinks this is a chance to grow his entertainment career as long as he could get the creature to trust him like Gordy did.


Universal Pictures/Regal

Jupe fed the alien predator horses he bought off of the Haywoods as part of a performance at his Western-themed attraction park. On the day one of Gordy’s victims comes to see the show, the alien is hungry for more than a horse. Jupe looks up and makes eye contact, as does everyone else in the audience — and they all get swept up in a windy abduction to their deaths.

Through his experience with Gordy, Jupiter didn’t learn an important lesson that greed and a lack of respect for non-human life blinded him from taking in. An animal is not an actor, any more than an alien is a sideshow attraction.

No creatures should be boxed in and made into a spectacle, because when they are — well, shit happens.

So, yeah, the film is a sci-fi horror tale, but it’s also a look into species’ primal attempts of survival.

All in all, we needed Jupe’s backstory in order to comprehend why anyone would try to tame an alien by feeding it horses.

Also might be worth noting the connection with balloons and animals here.


Universal Pictures / Via Giphy.com

Second lesson, keep balloons away from animals, y’all.

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