Virility, Venality and Victory: Three Faces of Masculinity in Jurassic Park
AbstractLike many of the blockbuster films of the 1990s, Jurassic Park (1993) is a story of survival, pitting humans against a force of nature: in this case, the imposing, genetically-engineered dinosaurs that cannot be contained by the science that created them. Beyond this, another survival story is woven into the narrative. This concerns the fate of the film’s men. When Dr Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) reflects on the role of humans in nature – “God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs” – Dr Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) retorts presciently, “Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth.” “Clever girls” – Ellie, the velociraptor who outwits Robert Muldoon, computer whiz Lex – abound in the narrative, while around them the men struggle with their place in this new landscape. Masculinity is bound up, variously, with cowardice (Gennaro), venality (Nedry), misplaced hubris (Hammond) and incautious virility (Malcolm). Even Dr Alan Grant (Sam Neill), though ultimately victorious, must be reformed, trading individualism for family and reneging on his earlier opposition to children. The contours of American masculinity were increasingly under scrutiny in the 1990s, and Jurassic Park reflects various related anxieties, constructing images of flawed men in need of punishment or redemption. This chapter will explore the film’s representation of masculinity through a number of its male characters, exploring how their survival is tempered by negotiation, compromise and critique.
CitationBarnett, K. (2023 - forthcoming). Virility, venality and victory: Three faces of masculinity in Jurassic Park. In M. Melia (Ed.), The Jurassic Park Book: New Perspectives on the Classic 1990s Blockbuster. Bloomsbury Academic.
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