Episode Number: 108
Episode Title: Jurassic Park (1993) (listen to this episode)
Transcript by: Susan the Great
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Ana: Hi friends. I’m Ana.
Renay: And I’m Renay.
Ana: And you’re listening to Fangirl Happy Hour.
Renay: Hello everybody and welcome to another Fangirl Happy Hour: Vault Episode. We’re super excited to do another Vault episode because we’re talking about Jurassic Park!
Ana: Otherwise known as the continued adventures of Ana down memory lane, and also how bad my memory is…is a thing…that we really need to talk about.
Renay: Why do we need to talk about your bad memory?
Ana: When you said, “Let’s watch about Jurassic Park,” I was like, “Oh great, it’s been such a long time since I watched this!” I started watching it and the first few minutes of the movie looked so alien. And I was like, “Am I watching the right movie because this looks like a movie from the seventies or something?” And then I stopped and I googled myself, and I found that I actually watched and talked about it during a viewing party on Twitter two years ago. And I had no recollection of this. How scary is this?
Renay: I’m kinda concerned about your memory problems, Ana.
Ana: Like I was telling you earlier today I forgot my keys. Not only did I forget my keys, I took Russel’s keys with me, and then when I got to work I realised that I hadn’t forgot my keys! I actually had my keys inside my pocket the whole time.
Renay: Maybe you need a deep brain scan.
Ana: What if I find out something that is really unpleasant?
Renay: I mean, I don’t know what to tell you because that’s one of the main reasons I don’t go to the doctor.
Ana: [laughs] Maybe I’ll forget this is happening!
Renay: No because every time we do a Vault episode you’re gonna be like, “Guess what, I discovered my memory is horrible!” You’re just gonna remind yourself over and over and over.
Ana: Do you know what clued me in to realize that I watched this not a long time ago?
Ana: Jeff Goldblum. I was like, “I remember this hotness.” And it wasn’t from a long time ago. It was recently.
Renay: Yeah, we should tell listeners about the way we did notes for this show: which was me with my super academic and thoughtful listing of themes and discussion points and then yours, which was?
Ana: Sexy strut as he walks towards the poo dropping. Also, sexism in survival situations. And also my third note. It’s so smart. So insightful! So intelligent. It says, “Dinosaurs.” It’s rubbish, I’m like —
Do you have any memories of Jurassic Park? Were you one of those people who grew up watching it and has amazing memories of it from when you were a teenager?
Ana: Okay. Neither do I.
Renay: I liked it when I saw it. I don’t remember the first time I saw it because I’ve seen it so many times. I was watching it so we could discuss it and my internet died so I couldn’t stream it anymore. I was like, “Mm, it’s fine, I remember the rest.” And I do remember the rest. That’s the scary part. Like in my head, I’m the exact opposite of you, in that I can somewhat replay this entire movie in my brain because I’ve seen it so many times.
Ana: I couldn’t even do that after seeing it only a couple of weeks ago.
Renay: You know how some people say, “Oh well, they’re faceblind”? I’m the opposite of whatever that is. But I remember things really clearly even after a long period of time. If I meet somebody face-to-face and I learn their name, four years later as long as they haven’t changed a bunch, I’m gonna recognize them again no problem. And remember their name.
If I see a movie I’ll remember the movie if I paid attention to it. So Jurassic Park was one of those movies that I must have watched before I got into computers, because I once I got into computers I would sort of casually watch movies. I wouldn’t get into them and just sit down and stare at the screen for hours to watch them. I’d watch them while doing stuff on my computer. But Jurassic Park came before that so I remember it really, really well.
I also remember movies like Care Bears 2 and Rainbow Brite and the Starstealer. Fraggle Rock?
Ana: What the hell are those?
Renay: You don’t know what Fraggle Rock is?
Ana: Fraggle Rock—no, is that the one that we talked about?
Renay: That you didn’t know what it was.
Ana: See, I remember it! There is hope for me still.
Renay: That’s okay, Ana. It’ll be fine, I’ll remind you of all the things that you forget. So how does Jurassic Park hold up, given that it was released in the nineties?
Ana: I think in terms of special effects we have come a long way. I can see how that must have been awe-inspiring back in the nineties. I don’t remember my particular reaction to the dinosaurs but looking at them now it’s clear what they are.
Renay: Really? Because I think the dinosaurs are super awesome still.
Ana: Yes. They are still super awesome, but for example that scene in the fields with the brontosaurus? You can tell that it’s special effects. I think because scenes outside, but all the scenes inside? They are better. I think. They are still good. And scary.
Renay: Yeah, I look at some of the special effects from the nineties, then I look at this movie, and I’m still just super impressed with the way this held up. I assume it’s because of the specific type of animation they used, which is actual models, so it didn’t fall into that trap of aging like computer graphics did. Sorry, Titan AE, I’m looking at you. And I also found this movie way more feminist than I did Jurassic World.
Ana: I quite liked Jurassic World.
Renay: Yes, I know. We’ve had that fight.
Ana: I dunno what you’re talking about. But yes, it absolutely is actually. For example, this time I noticed something that is so plain and clear and so obvious, but I only notice now, is the guy who spends the entire movie with the kids, and who in the end decides that he likes kids. Sometimes that arc is reserved for women.
Renay: And also when you genderflip that dynamic, the whole context changes because women are expected to like kids. So you can’t just flip it and hope that it’s gonna work out if you apply the same logic. I also really like Sam Neill. This is one of the roles that put him on my radar and I still just really like him both as a hero and especially as a villain. I think he’s got a great range. I think he does a great job. What’s sad is that the lady, Ellie, I wish she had had a bigger role somehow, cause I really liked her character. I wanted more of her as I watched this film. Maybe I have forgotten that the great parts that she had the second half of the film.
Ana: No, she does have a lot of things to do in the second part! She runs a lot, she’s the one that goes to turn on the lights back again and leaves everybody behind in the bunker.
Renay: I wanted her to have more to do.
Ana: I thought she had plenty.
Renay: Yeah, I know. But I wanted her to have more, Ana. That’s the thing.
Ana: It’s fair enough.
Renay: I would watch a whole movie with that character specifically.
Ana: Yeah, she was really great.
Renay: Well, as per my notes, and apparently nerded out over—whereas Ana did not nerd out, she was just like, “I know what’s important here, it’s Jeff Goldblum.” My notes do not contain any Jeff Goldblum which I guess makes me a fake geek girl and I’ve been kicked out of the club.
Ana: Come on. No, I was gonna say that it’s not only because it was sexy but also because I liked his role and the things that he had to say. And how cynical, I guess, or even realistic, and bringing up the role of science and the role of man in playing with science. Which goes back then to the points that you made in the notes that you wrote down for us to discuss, especially with regards to man playing god.
Renay: Malcolm makes all these points about scientists in general and how they’re using science on the island in specific. I was curious about whether he was right about scientists if we take what he was saying and apply it to our own culture and specifically something like computer science. Because think about all the apps that get made that are bigoted in some way, like they’re racist or they’re sexist or they’re just perpetuating awful stereotypes and biases that are placed there by scientists acting like their intentions are pure.
Ana: Well, it’s a question of ethics, isn’t it? And do you rely on a self-assessment with regards to ethics or do you then have a board or someone to oversee all the scientific developments? But when that happens scientific development can be stilted. It’s complicated. And I don’t really have an answer for that because of course I think that bringing dinosaurs back to life is a terrible idea. awesome, but also terrible idea. But at the same time the way that a scientist use cloning and that scientific discovery is awesome. The meeting of ambition, money, and science is a meeting that if you don’t have the ethics part of it, if you don’t have good grasp of social issues, it could really backfire.
Renay: And that goes to the way that this film also deals with the concept of wealth. Hammond is always going on about how much he spent on the park, how much he put into it, finance-wise, how expensive it was. It feels like he wasn’t constrained by anything, he just let this money convince him that he could do the thing, and then he created a park full of killer dinosaurs.
Ana: Wel, it’s a millionaire with a dream. Who just sent a car into space?
Renay: Elon Musk.
Ana: Do we really need a car in space? Is it cool?
Renay: Yeah, it’s cool.
Ana: Do we really need a car in space?
Renay: No, he could have given that money to the poor. But he’s also the dude who’s like, telling his workers if they don’t sign up with a union, he’ll build them a rollercoaster. So the intersections of power and money and ambition, if you do not have somebody behind you, and with you, trying to be like, “Should we do this?” maybe it’s not gonna end so well.
And I think we see that, because Hammond and Ellie get into it over the park and the conception of the park and the realization of the park. I really think that we see two types of scientists. We have Hammond, and then we also see the scientists who work in the park that he has hired, and then we see the two archaeologists that come in to view the park. We definitely see when Malcolm is making his point about science never asks whether it should do something. So you get characters like the archaeologist, who would definitely ask that question, and characters like Hammond who did not ask that question. The film sort of comes down on the, “Look at this cool idea that ended terribly” and I think that’s great that even back then, we get this critique of unlimited power, unlimited wealth, to do whatever you want.
Ana: If you had a chance to go and visit a Jurassic Park, would you?
Renay: No. [silence] No.
Ana: I’m not answering my own question. I plead the fifth.
Renay: You’re not American! You can’t plead the fifth!
Renay: Incriminate yourself.
Ana: I am an American for the purposes of this podcast.
Renay: So when I think about the science and the way that science has changed our lives, I feel like sometimes there’s not over-reliance on the technology that science produces. We’re like, oh well, we have these societies and they run on this technology, but if we got part of it taken away from us, via electricity, we’re all doomed. Because our whole society functions on electricity. And devices that require charging, and whole industries that are built around machines that need power. Once you build a whole society around machines that need power, but suddenly you can’t power those machines, what happens to your society?
I also see this a little bit in the bitcoin thing that’s going around, where bitcoin, to produce it you have to have like CPU power, and the bitcoin production is like draining power from different systems cause it takes so much energy from computers to make it? This is another example of Malcolm’s quote: bitcoin. So I really think that the reason this movie has stayed really relevant because dinosaurs are cool.
Ana: Yeah, that’s absolutely the first part. Second part is because Jeff Goldblum is sexy.
Renay: And has only grown more so, as the years have gone by.
Ana: I know! It’s incredible.
Renay: Lending a nice sheen of nostalgia over the whole thing.
Renay: And then third is because it deals with a lot of issues that are pretty relevant to now. Because not only do we have a lot of white men with a bunch of money and power doing ridiculous stunts because they can, but we’re also dealing with science going really far on things that we’re not really sure what the consequences will be. Specifically I’m thinking of the always-on recording devices that some people are putting in their houses like Alexa. And TVs that can record what you say.
Ana: I know! So I was at Thea’s home and she has an Alexa, and like you can ask her, it, everything you want. and one of the questions that Thea asked her is, “Alexa, are you spying on me?” and then Alexa says, “I can send everything that you do to Amazon, if you want me to.”
Renay: Science, what have we done?
Ana: I’m very torn about all of this. I find it really cool. I can see the potential behind all of it, but then of course you see the other side of it as well. Just because you can, should you? Like that goes into everything, right?
So for example, I was watching a documentary about the fashion industry. In our fast-paced society the way that fashion interacts with the world has changed. Before, you had four collections a year and those collections were, you know, one for every season and things were much manageable and sustainable. But in our fast-paced fast-food fast-fashion industry world, you have a new collection every week pretty much from the major outlets like for example H&M or Next. And that has a demand for the production of new clothes on a weekly basis that has created this environment in which you have to get your clothes done in countries like India, China, Turkey, for example, where those industries are slavery. Just because you can have it, should we have it? Why do we need a new collection every week, seriously, why?
Renay: Yeah, I think this movie also touches on that element, right? Because it creates a greed. Then it can be abused and taken advantage of. and we see this specifically in this movie—to take it back to the movie we’re discussing, I swear this is all relevant guyS—we see this in Nedry, who is basically committing corporate espionage because he gets greedy and he’s trying to steal the product. I mean, he gets his just desserts, obviously, but I think it goes to your point about, “Well. We can do this thing but should we and if we do it are we gonna think through the ramifications of what happens when we do?” and what happened with the fashion industry sounds like, no, we didn’t think about the ramifications, what it was going to mean.
Ana: No, absolutely not.
Renay: And now we have this really gross, broken system.
Ana: Absolutely. And that goes for everything. Again going back to the same kind of thing or development of science, it’s medicine and the pharmaceutical industry’s also very gross.
Renay: Yeah, so that’s a big reason that I think this movie is still really relevant and stays really relevant.
Ana: For some reason, gets being redone, too.
Renay: I think that’s because everybody wants more dinosaurs.
Ana: Absolutely yes, we all do want more dinosaurs, but I think that message from the first movie has gotten lost with subsequent entries in the franchise.
Renay: Well, I’ve only seen this one; the second Jurassic Park movie, the sequel; and then I watched Jurassic World eventually. I regret that. I will never get that time back.
Renay: On the plus side, the dinosaurs were cool.
Ana: Dinosaurs were super cool.
Renay: Well, yeah, I agree with you.
Ana: It’s all part of the capitalist societies.
Renay: Eat the rich! Eat them! So they can’t build dinosaur islands that kill us all!
Ana: Did you see the guy, a poacher, went to Africa to kill lions, and the lions ate him?
Renay: And left his head. Great job, lions. I get so mad at people.
Ana: I actually joke about it, but I don’t think I would go to a Jurassic Park.
Renay: Yeah, right, because then you get into the exploitation of animals, too!
Ana: Exactly. You bring those species back to life from extinction, and then you just use them for the entertainment of others, it’s not even for—I guess you can study science with them.
Renay: With zoos, they have to have oversight, right? Especially zoos who do restoration work on species. But who is gonna oversee the dinosaur park?! Where is his board of directors. Where is his checks and balances?
Ana: Nobody was doing that, so that was the work that Ellie and the dude were supposed to be doing, as invited archaeologists, paleontologists, experts, to give their blessing. That’s really not enough!
Renay: Before the thing was even conceptualized, there should have been checks and balances in place, and so you get into animal rights, and whether the people working in the park are credentialled to be working with animals. Are they abusive? So all these things come up when you consider this film. There is a lot to chew on here. I mean, obviously for kids, yes, dinosaurs! And adults: I love dinosaurs. But it also faces a bunch of societal issues with the way that humans have decided to interact with nature, interact with money, which is a human invention, interact with power. There’s a lot going on underneath the surface of this film. And when you say that the point didn’t get ported over to other sequels and remakes of this film, I think that’s why. They don’t seem to be asking any bigger questions. They’re just like, “Ooh, dinosaurs!”
Ana: “Let’s have fun.”
Renay: Yeah, and so the structure of this film makes it classic, but when your writers and producers are not looking to anchor it in the time it’s being made, to ask questions about culture, it becomes a little flat. And I think that was probably my biggest critique of Jurassic World. Although the dinosaurs were pretty cool.
On a lighter topic: the music of this film is done by John Williams. A lot of my nostalgia about this film comes from the music because it sets the tone for the film and a lot of really important ways, especially like the first time they enter the park, the first time they are on the field with the brontosaurus, when the T-rex is after them. These really emotionally important moments are just really anchored by the score. A lot of times in action movies like this, you don’t really get that. I kinda compare it to Star Wars, because the Star Wars music is super iconic and it does something to you emotionally that sometimes other movies that start with music don’t do, and I think Jurassic Park has the same quality.
Ana: I don’t have anything to say about that, because I don’t really pay attention to music consciously. But I’m sure that if it was removed from it I would notice.
Renay: And plus if you heard the music without the movie, like if you just heard the songs without having the movie on, you’d immediately know where that music came from.
Ana: That’s a really interesting exercise.
Renay: For example, if you heard the Star Wars Imperial March, without the movie playing, you would be like, “That’s the Star Wars Imperial March.”
Ana: Yeah, but that’s because it appears in so many other places other than the Star Wars movies. Because every time you see a villain they play that song. Every time you’re playing with a friend, or you’re making a joke about darkness or whatever, you play that song. So it’s just such a huge part of—that goes back to your point, obviously, because it’s just such a huge part of our cultural make-up, I guess, that it’s just ingrained the way that we handle the world that that song is just a huge part of everything that’s negative, we just play it.
Renay: This movie changes if that music isn’t there. Some part of this movie wouldn’t be as memorable if that music wasn’t there underneath changing somebody’s emotional reaction to it. Which is why now if I play the song from the field, from the film, somebody would be able to picture this scene on the field in that movie happening, because that is how we emotionally connect to film. Like we do it on multiple levels and I think that’s fascinating. It doesn’t always happen. There are movies that I love but if you play the songs from it I would have no idea. It’s like a really good composer who can pull that off. And didn’t John Williams do the score for both Star Wars and Jurassic Park?
Ana: Yes, John Williams is definitely the Star Wars composer. I’m pretty sure he’s the Indiana Jones composer too and that is also a soundtrack that is very noticeable.
Renay: When I think back about the movies that are so memorable from the nineties,I really think about his music specifically, because he just does such a good job attaching it emotionally to moments in the film. You have Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Ana: E.T. I remember the music from E.T. actually.
Renay: Home Alone?
Ana: [Dun-dun-duhs a song] … No, I don’t, that’s something else.
Renay: That’s Star Wars.
Renay: Then he did Harry Potter; the first three.
Ana: Oh Schindler’s List, he did that too.
Renay: If that had had another composer, the emotional resonance of this film might be different. The music in this film just really makes this film feel epic.
Ana: I can see that.
Renay: I know that I interact with music differently than you do, but for me that’s how that works. It changes the tenor and scope of the film, in the way it’s used, and I just loved it. It was one of my favorite parts during this rewatch, where the music would rise and I would be like, “Oh!” and I’d get goosebumps. When I was a kid I was like, “Oh my god, dinosaurs” but now I’m like “Oh my god, this music.” I’ve become an adult. I’m that adult now.
Renay: I still get excited about the dinosaurs, but also the music. At the end, everybody mostly survives, except for the jerky white guys.
Ana: And Samuel L. Jackson.
Renay: It was really weird seeing him in this film. I’m like, “Nick Fury’s first job.” Somebody write me that piece of fanfic, thank you.
Renay: So I came away really loving this movie. I’m gonna give it five whole space bees.
Ana: I think I’ll give it five whole space bees, too. Especially after our discussion, which made it even better.
Renay: There’s a lot going on in this film! Thinking back, before I rewatched it, I was like, “Okay, yeah, dinosaurs, this’ll be neat,” but there’s so much to pull out, and we didn’t even touch on some of the stuff with the kids and parental feelings. There’s a lot of other stuff to discuss that we didn’t even get to!
Ana: I’m glad we did this.
Renay: This was Diana’s choice for the Vault poll. Diana was like, “Discuss this movie!”
Ana: Thank you, Diana!
Renay: Ten whole space bees.
Renay: Today we are doing some recommendations that are dinosaur and/or science themed, because it’s hard to find fiction with dinosaurs that’s not movies. And dragons don’t count.
Ana: No, dragons definitely don’t count.
Renay: I love dragons, though.
Ana: Dragons are cool.
Renay: But not as cool as dinosaurs, because they lived. Dinosaurs were actually real! So Ana, what is your dinosaur or science themed recommendation?
Ana: It’s a non-fiction book called The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee, and it’s the history of the gene, from the ancient Greeks, to all the way to our times. And how humankind has approached the idea of genetics and going through Mendel who first devised the way that things reproduce and then Darwin and The Origin of Species. And it’s fantastic. It’s really well written. It’s very entertaining. The writer does a really good job of not keeping history and science boring or difficult. So I highly recommend this book, I think you would too, Renay.
Ana: What’s your recommendation?
Renay: So mine is sort of related, because asteroid, and dinosaurs, haha, you get it, asteroid and—dinosaurs.
Ana: [laughs] That’s terrible.
Renay: Also science. I’m sorry dinosaurs.
So my rec is The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russel and I’m recommending this one because obviously yes, the asteroid connection. It makes me amused, but also it’s very much about science and studying other cultures and getting shit wrong, real wrong, super wrong. This book messed me up. I loved it, but it messed me up. It’s also heavily about religion, too, but I can’t recommend it without also providing a severe warning for rape. You gotta be careful if you’re gonna read this book. And it’s about a group of people who go on a mission to another planet via an asteroid. And when I heard about this book the first time I was like, “What, this doesn’t seem like it’s gonna be a thing,” but it’s actually pretty fascinating and heart-breaking. I loved it so much, but it messed me up.
Ana: I’ve heard about it, one of my best friends really really does love that book.
Renay: There’s some stuff going on in it. It’s about science and religion and culture and fucking up.
Ana: The best books of all.
Renay: It’s another successful Vault episode. Thank you so much, patrons.
Ana: It’s really appreciated to get a chance to go back in time and talk about it.
Renay: If you have any thoughts, send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please come chat with us at @fangirlpod on twitter too.
Ana: Our show art is by Ira and our transcripts are by Susan. You read all the available transcripts at fangirlhappyhour.com. Our segment break music is by Chuki Beats and BoxCat Games.
Renay: If you like Vault episodes, you can help us decide the discussion topics by supporting us on Patreon. We’re there as Fangirl Happy Hour and we would be grateful for your support.
Ana: We also have a Facebook discussion group where we post discussion threads for recs and for celebrating our achievements. You can search for each under Space Bee Army and request to be added. We’d be happy to have you.
Renay: Drink some water; it’s important to stay hydrated to avoid the flu pandemic that’s bouncing around out there.
Ana: And if, by any chance, one day you are at the beach or you are at a park and you happen to come across a mosquito frozen in amber: just bury it. Bury it and forget you ever found it.
Renay: Thanks for listening, space bees.
Ana: See you next episode.
Ana: Black beans, white beans, beans beans beans, beans!
Renay: Beans, beans, the magical fruit.
Renay: Guess what today is, Ana? It’s the day that you do the little soft-intro.
Renay: Yes, it is.
Ana: Why did you have to dump this on me?!
Renay: Every other episode!
Ana: I was not prepared!
Renay: Do you need me to start putting it in the show notes so you can prepare?
Ana: Yes, madam producer! [laughs]
Renay: Okay. Okay.
Ana: Speaking of which: one month, one month! Until I get to see Hamilton.
Renay: Do not bring dinosaurs back to life!
Ana: That’s a terrible idea.