When Jurassic World released, the online discussion was mired with debate and controversy – sometimes forced, othertimes earned.
One of the talking points that stuck (other than high heels and Zara’s death) was Clarie Dearing’s (played by Bryce Dallas Howard) ownership of blame for the Jurassic World incident, which led to many civilian, staff, dinosaur, and private military deaths. As the parks Operations Manager, audiences questioned why the movie didn’t end with her being jailed – an argument that at the time I felt was weak, with no real gravitas.
The movie goes out of its way to show that InGen and Simon Masrani were running the show when it came to genetic research plus security controls, and that many less than savory characters were able to back channel their own projects due to Masrani’s eccentric aloofness. Claire’s responsibilities essentially fell into making their workings flow as an entertaining resort for guests and a profitable endeavor for their shareholders. Yes, she was part of the discussions that led to the Indominus Rex, and therefore owns some of the blame of the events that followed – however, she was second fiddle to many higher on the chain of command, and was not a Hammond like entrepreneur and owner.
So when people often called for to be jailed, I found myself going to bat for her character. It seemed most people arguing for her to be behind bars simply didn’t like her as a character, and were using this as an excuse to write her off. I don’t love Owen or Claire, as I felt both played out like comic book heroes, rather than real world people – but I don’t hate them, and feel that there is a story to be told from both players, with Claire offering more humanity than people gave credit.
So why is it that with every Dinosaur Protection Group update, I’m becoming less and less a fan of Claire’s?
In a new happy go lucky video from the DPG, Claire Dearing calls for your support in saving the dinosaurs. Much like the website of the advocacy group, it focuses on a friendly vibe, and pulls on the heartstrings of viewers of their nostalgic dinosaur encounters. While this is reflective of many forms of grassroots activism, it seems to sidestep many pertinent controversies and conflicts, burying them beneath a few layers of friendly gloss.
In the video above, Claire doesn’t remind viewers of the role she played in exploiting these animals herself – something I am readily able to forgive, should she take more ownership. In fact, the entire website paints the DPG as a naive organization, not ready to fully discuss the impact and implications resurrected prehistoric life has on the greater ecosystem. I suppose what really irks me, is that Claire and the DPG seem more interested in preserving the experience of the world being able to enjoy dinosaurs, rather than their value as a lifeform damned by mankinds actions.
The imminent eruption of Mount Sibo appears to be a convenient rallying call, but not the the core ethical dilemma driving the seemingly well meaning, but out of touch organization.
The inability to truly accept responsibility, nor deal with the greater implications and impact her past has had on animal rights was double downed upon with today’s update. In a faux newspaper article titled ‘OPINION: DINOSAUR RIGHTS – BIRTH OF AN ACTIVIST’, the foundation is set upon where the film will pick up. The debate on whether the dinosaurs of Isla Nublar have rights or if their corporate property rages on, and many are pointing fingers.
Perhaps most surprings is that Claire isn’t owning up to her role in the events that came before as way to earn authority over the talking points being presented, but rather shifts blame to Dr. Henry Wu only, painting him as a seedy villain for the press to focus upon. Perhaps Dr. Wu is a villain, or perhaps his role in the events of the past and future are more nuanced – while he certainly has a lot to answer for, Claire pushing that argument so strongly only acts to delegitmize any claim she attempts to showcase that she accepts any responsibility, and has grown as a person because of it.
As a viewer, I want to support the DPG. I want to feel that the organization is able to tackle the larger elements at play, and offer an actual intellectual argument for their cause. Animal rights are important, even within fiction, and the theme behind this film offers a nuanced ethical dilemma playing as the backdrop of the dino carnage that no doubt will play out. However, at this point, it seems the DPG are not prepared for the endeavor they’ve put themselves at forefront of – and perhaps that is an element within the film.
Will the DPG’s well meaning, but ill approached antics be exploited and lead to the death of more people, and the mistreatment of even more prehistoric fauna? It seems likely. I just hope Claire accepts more blame than the website currently implies, as her likability of a character, and believability of growth depends on it.
“Some of the worst things imaginable have been done with the best intentions.” – Dr. Alan Grant
There is a line in the sand between clear actions of good and evil, but most real world events and individuals never come close to a definitive side, operating unknowingly in a blurred grey area. What makes Jurassic Park so special is its focus and embrace of that concept. As of now, it seems the DPG is attempting to paint Claire as purely good, and Dr. Wu as a malicious counterweight – something that doesn’t sit right with me as a fan of films, nor do I feel the onscreen evidence entirely supports this.
Perhaps I’m asking for more nuance – or perhaps we’re given a peek into the DPG’s bias and Claire’s personality, who still has room to learn and grow. All will be answered this June with the release of Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom.
Agree – disagree – debate and share your thoughts in the comments below, and as always stay tuned for the latest news!
Source: Dinosaur Protection Group