Thursday, June 18, 2015

For Fuck's Sake, It's Freaking Dinosaurs!

"Jurassic World divides women into two categories, presenting the characteristics of those two categories as mutually exclusive; loving women with demanding jobs don’t exist in this world, nor do tough moms. And by the time Dearing has been changed, just as Trevorrow vowed she would, she falls into the role that’s been prescribed for her. She doesn’t have a job, but she does have a new boyfriend and a newfound appreciation for her nephews."
(Alex Abad-Santos, "A guide to Jurassic World's sexism controversy")


I don’t agree with this. I think you certainly can read it that way, if you choose. But:
1) the kids’ parents are going through a divorce; I think having a weak moment during that is hardly proof that you, yourself, are a weak person, 
2) caring about her nephews during a crisis doesn’t mean that Claire suddenly wants kids now; I love my niece but, even though I would go to hell and back to protect her if I had to, she is kinda simultaneously a constant reminder of exactly why I never want to have kids of my own. Claire strikes me as being very similar and the movie gives no reason to think otherwise, as she never expresses a new-found desire to breed, 
3) Claire becomes a tough caregiver, who is capable of both loving her family and kicking ass. She may not start off that way, but she grows into that. That’s kinda what makes her interesting. She’s never portrayed as less capable as her compassion and caring grows, if anything, the movie’s action forces her to become more and accomplish more in order to protect those she cares about. Yes, is her boyfriend Owen “a badass?” Sure, but so is she many times over (SPOILER! but, um, her ass is running through the jungle too, gets into a car chase with rebelling Raptors, she saves Owen from Death-On-Wings-Asaurous, brings a T-Rex to an I-Rex battle all while also coordinating an admittedly mucked-up attempt at a containment/rescue emergency for an entire island theme-park; girl didn’t just “shriek” her way through the film). Though it would have been nice if the characters around her noticed more, but I still feel like the movie and the audience notices, which matters far more,
4) the movie never reads as if it thinks that she ought to lose her job in order to complete her development journey; but it’s a story about an ill-conceived theme-park crumbling into chaos, can’t really keep your job once the park goes to hell. Should the movie have continued on to follow her to her next job just to prove she gets one? Pretty sure Claire is the type of character who can sell the park’s colossal failure as proof that another company should hire her (look how good she is in a crisis!). And I highly doubt Claire, given the character presented, would suddenly decide to become Owen's housewife (not that it would be this terrible thing, if that’s what she chose; freedom to choose how we live our lives, that’s what feminism is all about, right?) and I don’t think the movie does either,
5) when did having a boyfriend or a love life or caring about people become a bad thing? Or are they only positive characteristics if one also currently has a job?  I was under the impression that the usual complaint is that too often female characters' motivations are centered solely around landing a husband and are given preciously little else in terms of development, motivations, or character in general. I don't think you can say that of Claire. She's intelligent, capable, strong, and, yeah, badass. So all that gets her laid and maybe even loved at the end of the film, Yahtzee! 
6) and, even though this article doesn’t directly talk about, it’s been coming up a lot that Claire wears heels and likes fashion and is very noticeably traditionally feminine in many ways. As if that’s a bad thing. Again, as with a desire for romance or a family, there’s a troubling tendency to look down at this. She fights dinosaurs and runs from danger in heels, so? She didn’t exactly have easy access to alternate footwear; what did you want her to do? I’ve been in the choice between running in heels or running barefoot; I chose heels too. It’s not impossible to run in heels (it’s actually easier for me to run in heels; harder to stop and turn in heels, but easier to run). If we want people to stop judging us based on what we wear, maybe we should stop judging each other based on what we wear.
Was the movie perfect? No. Was it even a "good film?" Eh, it was a fun ride. Were there things I really wanted to change about it and will likely rewrite in my head? Absolutely. But, yes, in the end I agree with the article’s parting statement:  "You don’t go to the fourth Jurassic Park movie for up-to-date gender politics," Slate's Dana Stevens wrote. "You go for the crunchy dino-on-human action, and Jurassic World provides plenty of that."

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