The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde

Dip me in honey and throw me to the dinosaurs

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Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know what has come over me. I am not given to reviewing films, but I find that I am moved to speak on the subject of Jurassic World, which I just saw at the local magic lantern show. It was marvellous in its way – satisfying as a KFC is satisfying, all empty calories, and that is what I went for.

Blame my XX chromosomes or my emotional female nature. For it did make me laugh, heartily and hollowly, at the Single Woman we encounter. The Single Woman, as you will know from every film you have ever seen, is feckless and cold and compensates for her tragic lack of children by pretending that she likes her job. She has to be tamed and taken in hand and given a jolly good seeing to, and shown that what she REALLY wants is not a satisfying career and personal freedom, but the (apparently opposing) opportunity to be a Mate and Mother, and also that she isn’t really suited for taking control of anything; better leave that to the nice man in combat pants.

Now, I am as fond of a jolly good seeing to as the next woman and quite possibly more so. And yes, I do know that this is all pretend. But oh dearie dearie me. It does both reflect and shape how we perceive each other, if we can be exposed to this sort of shite without mocking it. Beware spoilers in what follows….

In the opening scenes we meet a woman called Claire. She is obviously a control freak because she has a perfectly slick bob, and not Proper Long Hair Like a Real Woman. Although she must be thirty if she’s a day, she STILL isn’t married and she doesn’t even know how old her nephews are, describing their age by indicating their height (as any sensible person does, right?) She has a job which is all about control, and wears a spotless white (white, eh?) silk shirt and skirt, and high heels which she keeps on at all times, even when running away from a T.Rex. Clearly she needs a nice rough man to show her how to loosen up. Happily, there is one on hand, though she has rejected him in the past because she is frigid and he wore shorts to a first date (fair enough, frankly). In fact he has the sexual charisma of a parsnip – but still, he is a Proper Man with a motorbike and a screwdriver and a machine gun and she ought to be jolly grateful.

Is she grateful? She is not. She presumes to tell him what to do, forgetting that her responsibility is to look after children. The children in her care are immediately almost eaten by dinosaurs, and let that be a lesson to her. The Proper Man has to sling her into a jeep and bounce into many difficult situations to rescue them.

This does her the power of good. Halfway through the film, after being chased a lot by dinosaurs, her hair actually starts to go curly. No really, it does. She takes her shirt off so we can see her marvellous bosom heaving, and shoots a pterodactyl, at which point she is immediately rewarded with a kiss from the Proper Man. Her make-up smears a bit but she keeps her high heels on at all times.

[There is also a rich Indian man, who is killed after foolishly trying to fly a helicopter, and a clever Chinese-American man, who is humbled by his amoral behaviour, and a number of Japanese or otherwise slightly ethnic persons, who are eaten immediately by dinosaurs for being the wrong colour, and a fat man who is eaten immediately by dinosaurs for eating a bun. There is even a moment – brace yourselves, British readers – where the words “The Pakis are out of containment” are uttered solemnly, with regard to some dinosaurs unfortunately called Pachysomethingosaurus. Even comedian Mobeen couldn’t keep a straight face on this one, and whoever was advising the film-makers on cultural references should certainly be eaten immediately by dinosaurs. I rejoice to say that one man, who is not only black but seems to have an African accent of some sort, survives. However, this may be an oversight and it is all beside my immediate point, which is the fate of the Single Woman.]

At the very end of the film, she gazes upon her nephews who are now restored to their proper, bland, boring parents – and her eyes mist up as she realises how futile is her life without children. She glances at the Proper Man and finally has the sense to ask HIM what to do. ‘What shall we do now?’ she asks. He tells her, and they stroll off into the credits. Nature, as they say, will find a way, and what that seems to mean is that the nice white people get to mate with each other whilst all the unpleasant foreigners, genetically modified creatures and anyone else who Messes With God’s Great Plan is er, immediately eaten by dinosaurs.

Is this all perhaps a teeny bit close to the bone? Why yes it is and would you like an icepack for that black eye?

[Disclaimer: Yes, I know, I know about cinema and Fay Wray and post-modernism and post-feminism and post-doormat and post-oh-where’s-your-sense-of-humour-it’s-all-a-bit-of-fun. It was a blockbuster and I enjoyed it very much. But still. Sigh.] Of course, you could always try it this way for a slightly different perspective.

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3 comments on “Dip me in honey and throw me to the dinosaurs

  1. Jenny Long
    June 19, 2015

    It was lazy film making wasn’t it? And I don’t think it did Chris Pratt any favours either. It would have been much better to cast him in Bryce’s role. He’d have made a good nerdy control freak.

    Just one correction. There are no dinosaurs called Pakisaurus. There are, however, dinosaurs called Pachycephalosaurus and micropachycephalosaurus. They are, indeed, referred to as ‘Pachys’ in paleontological circles. My nine year old was in no doubt to what Pachys they were referring to in the film. You can borrow him next time you go to see a dinosaur movie so that he can act as a cultural translator for you. I’d hate for you to suffer any further misunderstandings.

    • Jo Bell
      June 19, 2015

      Aha. I’m grateful for the correction! Still, it makes for a very unfortunate sound,er, bite.

  2. BQ
    June 19, 2015

    I’m not sure if you’ve seen the original, but the roles are reversed- Sam Neill is the anti-paternal/child figure, Laura Dern is maternal and caring and the brave and measured and daring and intelligent one. Indeed, most Spielberg movies involve an absent or neglectful father and a caring mother. I’m not sure you can criticise one installment in a franchise without highlighting contrasting issues in others?

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This entry was posted on June 19, 2015 by in Writing exercises.
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