After the Spanish-American War, the USA took control of Cuba and Puerto Rico, providing the US military with the chance to freely police many Caribbean states. Subsequently, America’s military frequently intervened on behalf of the United Fruit Company, who gained monopoly power over the banana trade by illegally overthrowing local Caribbean businesses. The term “Banana Republic” was coined after these events.
As for the game itself, Donkey Kong Country is presented to us as a game about a gorilla reclaiming bananas that a crocodile monarch stole from the gorilla’s family.
Does the plot of the game sound familiar? The guru of all video game theories, the game theorist, asserts that Donkey Kong Country is actually anti-American propaganda referencing the American imperialism of the 19th and 20th Century Banana Wars.
As the theory goes, Donkey Kong Country symbolises one of the Caribbean states, with all of its bananas being stolen by an invading military force. Resultantly, as Donkey Kong, you’re tasked with defeating the military force and taking your country’s bananas back.
There’s plenty of evidence to support this theory. For instance, the leader of the crocodiles, King K. Rool, doesn’t like bananas. So he must be stealing the bananas for something other than eating them himself; arguably he wants to sell them or use them for trade. This was the same with the USA; they wanted to create a monopoly by controlling the supply of bananas in the Caribbean. One little note, the US President at the height of the Banana wars was Teddy Roosevelt. His name bears some resemblance to King K. Rool.
Moreover, the location chosen for a fight between Donkey Kong and King K. Rool is a pirate ship, despite there not even being any pirates in the game. Arguably, the game developers are making a passing reference to the United Fruit Company and the U.S. military, which had regularly enforced their demands with fleets of naval vessels. Additionally, some enemies more closely resemble the US military with helmets, armour and heavy guns. Furthermore, during a later level in the game, the crocodiles turn large parts of Donkey Kong Country into oil fields; this is quite obviously a reference to American foreign policy. They might as well make the final boss a giant oil drum amongst mountains of stolen bananas … oh wait, they did.