(Spoiler alert – I’m so behind on having a real life, probably one of the last people to see this film. In case you haven’t and you plan to, there are plot points of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom discussed in this column as well as non explicit references to child abuse, so consider yourself both spoiler alerted & content warned.)
Jurassic Park is my adolescence – which like everything in my life was in some aspects hastened and delayed at the whims of my parents. I knew secret adult things I shouldn’t very young. At the same time, I was forbidden to date (or even sleepover at many girls’ houses) until I was an adult. My skirt length was prescribed (long below the knee), television viewing habits (no Simpsons, MTV or Facts of Life) and no R-rated movies. PG-13 was okay, especially if it was rated so (not for blasphemous bare naked female flesh) because of killing.
Killing is appropriate entertainment.
So I went to see Jurassic Park several times while I still lived in my parents’ home.
There’s an echoed dialogue in those films, differing characters repeating the paraphrased sentiment of “do you remember when you first saw a dinosaur?” And I do on that big screen, one of the movies you just cannot imagine a person not watching in the inflated grandeur of a cineplex – to feel the epic-ness of the natural world reduce us to our simplest primitive essence in a dark room full of strangers.
Last night, I went to the fourth installment Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
(*This is not a movie review or an in-depth discussion of plot points, their failings et cetera. I went because I wanted to feel awe in a man-made primitive sanctuary of artificial night with beasts and a bunch of strangers who don’t see me. In that sense, it was magnificent.*)
And then I saw myself on that screen, and I figured out why I love these movies so much.
I wasn’t a stegosaurus or a velociraptor. I was Maisie Lockwood, a little girl who, as the movie develops, we learn was not born at all but created in a lab – a clone of her dead mother created to appease the grief of a father she is raised to believe is her grandfather. Maisie, having discovered this truth about her creation, has the ability to choose between the human species and the dinosaurs at a critical point in the film. She can kill all the remaining dinosaurs or unleash them on mankind. It all comes down to one button.
Maisie chooses the dinosaurs. They are like her, cloned, deemed “less than” by humanity – assets used to sate unfulfilled desires.
It’s how I felt my entire adolescence. I was created to live someone’s else religion, repressed sexual desires. Many traits of my personality, writing, my womanchildness, my fetishes were manufactured by an environment that I distance myself from and despise. Yet, it shaped me. I took these details in my own direction. I escaped like the dinosaurs did, with the help of their cloned little ally. But I have spent countless hours in therapy trying to change parts of myself that are programmed/conditioned inside me only to ultimately realize that I am who I am, and I must accept that. I will always be a womanchild, a little stunted inside, seeking a father I emotionally didn’t really have, and I just need to go about that in the most healthy way possible.
The Jurassic Park movies question the ethics of genetic science: The fact that we can doesn’t necessarily mean that we should.
I think this is equally applicable to parenting itself: because we can make a child, should we simply do so? Should we consider our motives for wanting to procreate, to bring a child in the world? Should we ask ourselves what our intentions truly are regarding raising/training another human being, the risks involved?
Obviously, we should, and many do. Many don’t. And for those of us raised in situations where we were commodities, controlled, used and abused without acknowledgement of our humanity, it’s no wonder we feel disconnected from, said, humanity. It’s why I have found peace in a move to the woods, where I am alone a lot and don’t see my neighbors. I don’t go out a lot. It takes me months to go see a summer hit movie. I did though, and sitting there looking into a pre-teen’s projected eyes, I saw the lab experiment that was my childhood. I felt the otherness and objectification that these animals and this designed child felt. As the movie progressed, I watched this young girl evolve to the point of recognizing her otherness and choosing the dinosaurs.
I feel you, Maisie. Many days, I choose them, too.