Zookeepers and pet owners are unsurprisingly failing to grasp the irony of their enjoyment of a recent mega-blockbuster.
It’s difficult to determine if the anti-zoo themes in the wildly popular Jurassic World are intentional or simply inevitable, given the lack of creativity present in mainstream Hollywood and the need to invent a silly excuse for dinosaurs to behave very un-animal like and inflict a massacre upon their human captors.
As I write this, there is a popular meme of zookeepers mimicking the stance of the new momentary acting hero Chris Pratt and his ‘raptor training’ scene, an image I’ve been forcibly exposed to in advertisements for the last 4 months. Ever since I viewed the trailer for this movie some time ago, I was not thrilled. The animals in it appeared to be their typical, unrealistically hyper and murderous selves that we see in mainstream cinema, having much more in common with shallow B monster movies than anything remotely natural. This is of course why most people enjoy these movies—it is a self-hating desire to witness the over-the-top deaths of humans committing a ‘crime of hubris’ in ‘playing God’.
This is exactly the same mentality that many zoo haters exercise, along with accusations of zookeepers and exotic pet owners ‘enslaving’ non-humans. Many might believe my criticisms towards simple-minded sci-fi fodder are out of line, but given that even the film’s own director espoused the theory that Jurassic World has themes in common with the anti-SeaWorld documentary Blackfish, I don’t find my theory to be overly outrageous.
“Yeah, there’s a bit of a [‘Blackfish’] vibe to this story,” “Jurassic World” director Colin Trevorrow told Slashfilm. He compared the movie’s havoc-wreaking Indominus rex to a creature that grew up in a SeaWorld-type environment. “Our new dinosaur…is kind of out killing for sport because it grew up in captivity,” Trevorrow said. “It’s sort of, like, if the black fish orca got loose and never knew its mother and has been fed from a crane.”
Truth be told, I’m fairly certain Trevorrow is an idiot, who is merely tacking on more ‘depth’ in a shallow movie where it simply doesn’t exist [intentionally]. As previously stated, it is difficult to create any other plot themes for this over-milked theme park storyline that doesn’t go the way of the animals enacting vengeance in the face of the human race’s bad ethics. Trevorrow has apparently also stated that the hybrid dinosaur villain, the ‘Indominus rex’, symbolizes’ consumer and corporate excess’, and that the dinos were…
"…meant to embody [humanity's] worst tendencies. We're surrounded by wonder and yet we want more, and we want it bigger, faster, louder, better. And in the world of the movie, the animal is designed based on a series of corporate focus groups."
"There's something in the film about our greed and our desire for profit. The Indominus Rex, to me, is very much that desire, that need to be satisfied."
So as I suspect, these messages are vague, have tirelessly been done before, and can be stretched to apply to many situations and entities. Let me state for the record that I do not believe that the creators had Blackfish or zoo hate in mind when creating the film, but perhaps more insidiously, the presence of these themes reveal a growing trend of non-activists and non-extremists sympathizing with aspects of the animal liberation mentality.
It has of course leached into Hollywood as it has done numerous times before, yet even the zoo community cannot see the obvious harm these messages can cause.
Aside from essentially criticizing animal captivity as ‘human arrogance’, a crime punishable by graphic death by mammal-like reptiles, the movie like many others paint animals and their behavior absurdly.
Dinosaurs apparently are able to communicate with each other sophisticated information, and there is an ‘alpha’ dinosaur instructing other dinos that are not even of its same species to kill humans (if this was not directly lifted from How to Train Your Dragon 2, it just shows how unoriginality tends to repeat itself).
Overall, films like these contribute to the idea of a doomsday mentality when many powerful carnivores are in captivity.
It doesn’t matter how silly it sounds; many people wholeheartedly believe that animals are just furry people who might retaliate against humans and any example of animal behavior gone wrong—for instance a human fatality caused by a big cat’s territorial instinct—is often described as such. Just read any comment section.
You’ll often actually see people lampooning the deceased and suggesting they got what they deserved for being involved with a captive animal.
Of course, the incident in Zanesville, Ohio is by far one of the worst, if not the worst cases of large dangerous animal escapes in American history, and it should be noted that despite the severity of it, there were no human fatalities or animals hell bent on revenge.
So perhaps if you are along for this fight, think about what you see on the silver screen and the ramifications it has for your chosen lifestyle or occupation.