If you pay close attention, you’ll notice a book lurking around in two different scenes in Jurassic World (2015). Zara Young picks up Zach and Gray Mitchell at the Isla Nublar dock. Then she’s sitting behind the boys and reading this book on the monorail from the dock to the main complex. It’s also lurking on Lowery Cruthers’ desk in the control room. It’s the book God Creates Dinosaurs by Dr. Ian Malcolm.
I’m surprised Jurassic World employees are reading this book or are permitted to read it. But I enjoyed seeing it foreshadow the inevitable breakdown of the new theme park.
This title alludes back to Jurassic Park (1993). Dr. Malcolm, Dr. Grant, and Dr. Sattler are watching for the tyrannosaur with bated breath. Then Malcolm quips:
God creates dinosaurs.
God destroys dinosaurs.
God creates man.
Man destroys God.
Man creates dinosaurs.
Malcolm’s phrase “God creates dinosaurs” becomes the motto for his thesis. The use of genetic engineering to bring about the de-extinction of dinosaurs is unnatural, hubristic, and dangerous. Mankind has wielded power to do things we have no business doing. And we’ll dehumanize and destroy ourselves in the process.
This is the exact problem in the real world with another exercise of power. De-extinction of dinosaurs stands as a metaphor for a subject much closer to home in our culture. And the signs of this problem pepper the plots and the characters’ lives in the film franchise. It links the unnatural creation of dinosaurs by mankind to this pervasive cultural problem in a way that’s profound and not coincidental.
The Jurassic Park franchise is about the sexual revolution. And when I’ve explained this to you, you’re going to slap a facepalm and wonder how you never noticed this until now.
Long ago and far away … Okay, after college and elsewhere in town, my father-in-law and I would watch films once the kids went to bed. Afterward, we’d discuss cultural themes at work in the flicks. By 2:30 AM, we’d usually solved the world’s problems for the week.
We observed how the original Jurassic Park trilogy contained a lot of dysfunctional family dynamics. Also on display were the duties, expectations, and places of men and women in the modern social order. This trend has continued in Jurassic World series. Men, women, and children are in social distress, dinosaurs look to be the death of them all, and forming functional family structures saves the day. Our confrontation with the natural order run amok catalyzes this transformation and redemption.
The bold and defiant act of cloning dinosaurs and everything that results is an allegory. It’s an allegory for the sexual revolution and its repercussions. It’s about divorcing sex, marriage, and procreation from each other. About commodifying sterile sexual activity and commercializing child-making. About every sort of reproductive intervention and artificiality to create (or not create) children. About blurring the lines of male and female spheres of activity. About muddying up male and female agency. About human life in the modern world contrasted with human life in the natural world.
Think about it. Why clone dinosaurs? Entertainment. It’s the only effective motivation to fork over the funding. You could try to be noble and say it’s about research and scientific knowledge. But Dr. Henry Wu the chief geneticist tells you there’s nothing natural about this. And he knew this from the beginning. In the original novel, he even argues it would be a feature rather than a bug. He wants to make the dinosaurs less real, less natural, by making them more stereotypical to conform to our uninformed prejudices. Dr. Wu wants to create unnatural dinosaurs to be what we want them to be, not what they were when God created them. And we are to think of them as natural because they fit our fantasies.
You clone dinosaurs for the same reason you precipitate a sexual revolution. To denature nature and convert it into a commodity for our pleasure-seeking consumerism.
In the posts ahead, I will show how this plays out film by film.