You groan. "No," you grouch, "and I was hoping you never would." However, you clicked on an entry about Jurassic Park by me knowing full well what that entails, so chances are you're going to read the whole thing anyway.
Jurassic World is the latest in a series of movies that have probably done as much harm to public perception of dinosaurs as they have good. However, its impact will be worse than the previous three, almost entirely because of when
it's being released.
Jurassic Park, for all the flaws I will happily call out, was actually rather revolutionary for a dinosaur film. Besides some very stupid errors, the dinosaurs were portrayed as more active and more realistic as animals than ever before. It brought then-modern depictions of dinosaurs to an audience that sorely needed to see them. This, I acknowledge.
Now, it's been what, twenty years since the original movie? Something like that? Why, we've discovered all kinds of things about dinosaurs since then! Think of the feathers! Think of the lifestyles we can emulate from our best guesses! Think of how much we could expand on the original movie's idea of dinosaurs evolving into birds! Thinking of all that?
Well, they didn't. In fact, they practically thumb their nose at paleontologists with the phrase "We have learned more in the past decade from genetics than a century of digging up bones". Just as Jurassic Park brought dinosaurs from the 90s to the audiences in the 90s, so too does Jurassic World bring dinosaurs from the 90s to audiences in 2015. Their skin is wrinkly and elephantine, their pupils are slitted, and even their mosasaur has a "frill" running down its back, straight from a 60's illustration.
And it's not just me who's disappointed. Actual paleontologists, people who make their career doing this sort of thing, are disappointed in how little thought was put into this. If Jurassic Park was a loving nod to paleontology, Jurassic World is a kick in the groin. This isn't a dinosaur movie, it's a monster movie.
Now, there are a couple arguments as to why the dinosaurs "needed" to look like this, most of which are complete bull. The first thing anyone says is "continuity", which is absurd, because if it was about continuity, the dinosaurs would not look like those from the first movie; they'd look like those from the third, the last Jurassic Park movie before this one. That's how continuity works
"They were genetically engineered to look this way!" Okay, who's going to say that to the audience? Who's going to straight-up say "this is not what actual dinosaurs looked like"? Or is this being left up to fan theories to explain away criticisms made by people who care? Because if nobody in the movie says "this is not what dinosaurs look like", a majority of the people who see the movie will think "this is what dinosaurs look like", which is what I care about here. It's not just about the inaccurate depictions, but about the fact that people take these inaccurate depictions as fact
. As a result, there are people who will vehemently oppose any dinosaur depiction that doesn't match what they saw in Jurassic Park. That's why it matters how clear it is that this is not how dinosaurs looked.
Next up, someone says "it's just a movie" and tells me to stop making such a big deal out of this. I smirk like a Yu-Gi-Oh character as I reveal you have activated my trap card, Scientific Study
. It rationally explains the effect media has on public understanding of science, sending your Bad Argument to the Shadow Realm. I place a face-down card and end my turn.
"So then, Wise Jess," you say, bowing before my humble form, "what do you
think the reason for not changing the dinosaurs is?"
Well, it's simple: nostalgia. A majority of the people who are going to buy tickets for this movie are already enormous fans of the original film, and what that means is they've already made up their mind about changing their precious "velociraptors" and "T rexes" and they will not stand for any of it. Just look at the massive backlash paleontologists have received for voicing their concerns; the Jurassic Park fanbase is very resistant to changes in our understanding of paleontology. Just about any BANDit (BAND=Birds Are Not Dinosaurs) will cite Jurassic Park depictions as what they believe dinosaurs looked like as they fight against the idea of feathered dinosaurs.
So in the end, this was a foregone conclusion. Dinosaurs are so entrenched in the idea they have to look "cool" that at this point, the Jurassic Park franchise has no choice but to stick with outdated dinosaurs until the end of time, or else they lose their fanbase, which claims to "love" dinosaurs. Love is in quotations, because as I put it rather recently:
This is our best understanding of what dinosaurs were like, plain and simple. If you dislike that, fine, enjoy your movie monsters with slobbering jaws and elephantine grey skin. But just remember every day you do so that what you're enjoying isn't dinosaurs. You stopped loving dinosaurs long ago. What you love now is a crude, outdated facsimile that you cling to like a security blanket because it's "awesome".