by Hannah Newberry
While the new Jurassic World franchise undoubtedly plays into the hands of cliché theatrics with a precarious script, it’s true that old school dinosaur fans mourn the undefeated collaboration of Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler. However, it should not go without recognition that the new movie puts on a platform an important kind of symbolic exoskeleton that I believe would benefit from further analysis in later sequels.
Goldblum’s brief appearance, although chronically underappreciated, points out the ‘political megalomania’ that the Jurassic movies have not been so forthright about before. Alongside minor jump scares, looming threats and a timeless soundtrack (thank you John Williams), there is a consistent poignancy about the way humans take hold of an entirely foreign world, and the possible connotations this could have in a reality where such an opportunity arises.
Meddling with the evolutionary process is eminent in our everyday lives, and shouldn’t be ignored just because it isn’t a huge stegosaur. Genetic engineering manages to cause every disaster in the franchise, albeit fictitious. So why, in media that clearly depicts a moralistic undertone, are we not looking at science going too far outside of a cinema screen?
Humans seek to emanate parts of the animal kingdom for their own benefit, such as the stamina of dolphins being implemented into soldiers so nations would (literally) breed people with innate advantages. The concept of an ‘indoraptor’ in the newest movie toys with genetic mutations that can be sold off as a profitable ploy for war, yet the real goals we exhibit are not too far astray. The potential damage this kind of intervention could do on success could see the rewrite of international combat rewritten entirely. China also experiment with human embryos regularly and without absolute scientific rebuttal – the potential interference we could do externally may never be reached if we fundamentally alter ourselves first, without knowledge of impending complications. There is more weight given to the curiosity of what could be, which never bodes well in the dinosaur Universe.
Despite Richard Attenborough’s hypothesis, eloquently described via theme park ride, of amber preserving dinosaur DNA being disproved, it is not without substance. We are able to retrieve dinosaur proteins effectively from found fossils, and even attempting to reverse-evolve species such as chickens. While the idea is almost comical, it was also met with equal disregard that we’d ever be able to retain DNA that spans over hundreds of thousands of years, yet progress eventually led us here.
One may argue that you cannot condemn genetic engineering without the use of GMOs and other routinely accepted advances. It’s true that it reaps its advantages, such as resistance to diseases or to produce foods that meet demands of a varied climate more efficiently. But the unfortunate truth is, there will be no thorough, conclusive end to experimentation until there is a deterrent big enough that it counterbalances the profit at the end. Whether that’s a T-Rex tearing humans off Blockbuster windows (as depicted in The Lost World) or the end of humanity as we know it, there is no doubt in my mind that the most minimal consequence could still be as vast as international technological warfare.