The Franchisaurus: Immune to Extinction

by / 1 Comment / 180 View / June 30, 2015

Twenty-two years after the warnings against over-commercialization from Steven Spielberg’s 1993 sci-fi film Jurassic Park, Hollywood is coming back at it again this summer with Jurassic World, the latest addition to the blockbuster franchise. After only one week of its late November release, the “Jurassic World—Official Trailer” on Youtube had reached an impressive 42,920,417 views. With a trailer that provides glimpses of CGI-enhanced, action-packed scenes—kids taking futuristic gyrosphere tours, colossal sea monsters eating great white sharks, and the suave actor Chris Pratt motorcycling next to Velociraptors—who wouldn’t want to spend the 14 dollars to catch it on the big screen?

This response is precisely what the producers of Jurassic Park love to see. However, despite updates to the original film’s special effects and plot setting, the “new” Jurassic World recycles the original concept: when businessmen rashly abuse biotechnology to build a profitable theme park populated by real dinosaurs, people are going to get hurt. The main take-away is that excessive, impulsive, and near-sighted commercialization could have hazardous consequences.

But even after three Jurassic Park movies that warned people of these potential dangers, here we are again with a movie that is essentially, as The Guardian journalist Jazz Twemlow writes, “an expensive resuscitation of [one’s] VHS collection.” Ironically, the Jurassic Park franchise succumbs to what its films warn us against: capitalizing on hype and excitement without considering any potential negative ramifications. Money-hungry moviemakers might not get their legs ripped off by a 30-foot-tall Dilophosaurus, but they never considered how expanding the franchise could be detrimental to society.

Perhaps the producers didn’t take heed from their product because it wasn’t meant to impart an impactful moral. Despite its cautionary message, the franchise was not designed to be educational; it was created to sell as much merchandise and as many movie tickets as possible. If anything, the new movie will just make future producers see how the continuation of the franchise garners so much revenue. Excessive commercialization, as seen with the Jurassic Park franchise, perpetuates a cycle of greed with negative outcomes, whether that be the expensive production of movies with lackluster plotlines or people’s deaths that result from the reckless commercialization of biotechnology. Commercial enterprises themselves, though, are not dangerous per se, but rather, as The Wall Street Journal’s Matt Ridley reports, “its abuse, over-commercialization and privatization” are of concern. Why, then, do people continue to make the same mistake of overly commercializing despite the potential risks? Why do franchises like Jurassic Park keep growing? Simply put, people overlook the negative repercussions of their undertakings because they are overtaken by corporate greed and conform to a commercial authority that drives them to carry through with dangerously ambitious yet profitable endeavors.

Spielberg’s original 1993 film Jurassic Park itself sheds light on this very problem. Character John Hammond, the founder of the titular theme park, abuses the power of cloning just to quickly generate immense revenue and lead his biotech company to the forefront of the commercial world. He eagerly wants to market his theme park to the general public. However, by simply appropriating the scientific research of others, Hammond does not foresee the repercussions of his project. As Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton writes, Hammond enters a “furious haste to commercialize genetic engineering…[with] research [that was] thoughtless …uncontrolled [and] done…for profit.”

Even the scientists he hires do not know all of the facets of cloning, yet they carry through with it anyway without considering its potential dangers. They believe their carnivorous creations will never breed because they only cloned female dinosaurs. However, they never consider how complex and uncontrollable a system like Jurassic Park is and how nature will ultimately break through any manmade restrictions. As philosophers Nicolas Michaud and Jessica Watkins write in their book Jurassic Park and Philosophy, Hammond, in his rush to commercialize, equates “attractive to investors” with “an idea that is likely to succeed.” He shortsightedly only sees all the possibilities of his entertainment-based, revenue-generating theme park: expensive admissions tickets, pricey merchandise, and a lead over all the other biotech firms. Hammond even heedlessly allows his grandchildren to take an untested tour of the park, risking the safety of others for the sake of his commercial motives.

Hammond’s excessive commercialization of biotechnology parallels how franchises work in the real world: people are too blinded by greed that they overlook any long-term repercussions of their commercial endeavors. In the same vein, Jurassic World is simply an embellished iteration of the three prior movies and is itself a product of over-commercialization. The moviemakers, blind with greed, fall victim to the film’s own warning of exorbitant materialism, and therefore are inherently encouraging overall excessive commercialization, which can have dangerous effects, such as with the exploitation of biotechnology.

However, that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be any commercial advancements; instead, such ventures must only be pursued only after its potential risks are evaluated. These negative consequences, as seen with movie producers and the fictional John Hammond, though, are often ignored due to greed and the alluring aspect of gaining a commercial lead in the ever-competitive economy. Perhaps, then, moviegoers should think twice before buying their Jurassic World movie tickets. The movie itself may entertainingly enlighten them of the dangers of commercial ambition, but by attending the movie, they themselves are perpetuating this vicious cycle of excessive commercialism and fueling the immunity of the everlasting Franchisaurus, the most deadly species of all.
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  • Sofa

    I’m confused as to what the negative societal consequence to film commercialization is. You make an analogy to the overcommercialization of biotech leading to a dangerous and poorly thought out theme park. But you fail to discuss the negative aspects of an over commercialized and over hyped movie. I personally don’t think there’s a negative societal consequence to regurgitating movies. And while it might be nice to have more variety and fresh ideas in films, I don’t think there’s much issue here especially considering all the greed and overcommercialization around the world (think Nike/Jordan shoes and child laborers or minerals for iPhones and child laborers).