Movie Seat: Jurassic World

I watched Jurassic World last week.

It was garbage, and I loved it, because it was my kind of garbage.

However, Jurassic World was also literally garbage because it was not the gay dinosaur adventure movie of our time.

Owen shouldn’t have been Owen and he shouldn’t have been played by Chris Pratt because the character should have been Kelly from The Lost World.

It would have made perfect sense. Her traumatic time on the island would still affect her. The fear of the long grass, those whipping, slashing tails. Out of everyone in both films (I don’t include the third one as I have not yet watched it), she is the only one who succeeds in killing a raptor. Muldoon failed and though Roland did not have his sights on a raptor but rather a t-rex, they were still defeated by their prey.

Kelly was different from them. She was better than them. She killed a raptor not because she hated them or because she wanted to prove something (maybe Roland should think a bit about the concepts of toxic masculinity that he embodies and embraces) but because she wanted to save her dad–because she was brave in the face of danger.

It’s easy to imagine that she did not leave the dinosaurs completely behind her in the past but rather grew up and became a dinosaur expert herself; at first it was a way to heal, a passion fueled by fear and trauma, but eventually it grew and matured into respect and wonder and maybe (still) a little fear. Owen’s dinosaurs are wow enough quote makes more sense coming from Kelly, doesn’t it, after all the terror she faced on that island, after all that monsters she ran from, after all the people she saw killed by those same dinosaurs they are trying to package and sell for public consumption?

When she was offered the job as a raptor trainer, she had a huge argument with her dad before she packed her bags in order to face her childhood fear in the flesh once more, to forge a relationship of respect not rooted in abject terror and nightmares. She may know that she is not the one in control, but she respects them and they respect her and now it’s easier to sleep at night.

it takes a while before she and her dad start talking again, but they do, and she is relieved.

She meets Claire. They date once and not again.

Then the monstrosity they’ve concocted in the lab gets worse and the movie starts and the viewer realizes that every single line of dialogue would make more sense if the character were a woman, if Kelly were the one speaking those words:

The raptor squad is comprised primarily of females. So who is the alpha, the kid asks Kelly, and Kelly replies, You’re looking at her.

Imagine that line (and Kelly’s past in facing a raptor before as prey instead of alpha) when she dives in on the ground to save that poor unfortunate soul. I see you, eyes on me.

Claire knocks over a pterodactyl in order to save her one time ex and suddenly it’s girlfriends kissing girlfriends in the midst of carnage and mayhem.

Kelly astride a motorcycle in a dirty blue button down and a rad leather vest: world’s coolest and badass girlfriend? Yeah, I think so. No longer running away from the raptors, but with them.

And at the very end, when the dinosaur they’ve frankensteined out of bits of DNA is defeated, they hold each other’s hands, and Kelly looks over at Claire and says, We should stay together. For survival.

Do not these lines make more sense if they had been written for a woman speaking to another woman? I think they do.

Even writing Claire as a straight woman dedicated to her work makes no sense. For some reason, she is distant from her family–why? Because she is an lgb woman who is interested in relationships with women? Maybe she still struggles with her attraction and takes refuge in work? Makes more sense than simply being too dedicated to her work doesn’t it?

But unfortunately, Jurassic World would never allow a love story between two women flourish in the midst of dinosaur tragedy. There are not very many women in this movie (in fact, i think female dinosaurs outnumber human women), and what few there are share limited screen time with each other and are not given the time or space to form emotional bonds with each other. At one point, the narrative takes great delight in the drawn out and brutal death of Claire’s assistant.

What few women there are are white women.

Yeah, this movie doesn’t love women very much at all.

Most criticism that I’ve seen regarding the lack of feminism in this movie revolves around the way Claire is treated by her male coworkers and her impractical shoes. To be honest, that didn’t bother me too much because I might not run a dino-themed amusement park, but my apparel is criticized and so is my uptight attitude in my own workplace. Just last week my male supervisor made negative remarks about my own very sensible flats because they were a bright, shiny red with a bow on top–the kind of red that if I clicked my heels together three times I might find myself back home. I’ve also been told that I’m a robot at work, that I’m too dedicated, that I need to step back and take it easy.

So yeah, Claire facing those comments from her well intentioned dude-bro coworkers didn’t bother me, nor did I think it illustrated the insidious misogyny of the film itself.

Because in the climax of the final scenes, Claire was still herself. Just like she never changed her shoes, Claire did not have to change herself in order to save the day.

It’s not a radical idea, but then it’s not really something we see frequently on the big screen; just look at the ending of Grease which is the only film coming to mind right now but there are more–you know there are a thousand examples of women changing who they are to be more available to men.

Focusing this discussion on Claire and her footwear (impractical or otherwise) is misplaced, in my opinion, and focuses on the frosting instead of the whole cake. Feminism is about structure, it is about observing a piece of literature through a certain framework, and assessing its being within that framework. Feminism is an act, not a checklist, and I think that our discussion should reflect this.

Focusing on whether or not Claire is a feminist character misses the broader picture, the context of how Claire exists within the framework of the narrative.

And it is clear that the narrative does not love women–merely tolerates their presence in very restraining roles where they are separated from each other, where they are not allowed to form intimate relationships (whether platonic, romantic, etc) with each other, and so on and so forth.

This narrative embraces and believes in the white heteropatriarchy. It’s why there are so few women, and what few women exist are white women who are attracted to white men.

I read an article earlier that talked about the fan theory of Owen being the kid in Jurassic Park that Dr. Grant scared by telling him how raptors hunted. It made me sad again that Kelly had not been brought back as either the Owen figure or the Claire figure (i could see her being both, to be honest). The people in charge could have cast any number of women to be either Owen or Claire but they chose instead to perpetuate the white heterosexual patriarchy because, in the words of Owen, it needs to survive.

It’s sad because that system of power is not in any danger. It doesn’t need to be protected. It’s a weed that’s flourished and wants to continue taking over the whole damn garden. It’s a structure that harms and inhibits–that kills.

And that is why we should have had our gay adventure story in the time of dinosaurs, starring Kelly and Claire, girlfriends again at the very end.

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