Logo for Jurassic Park, featuring a silhouetted tyrannosaurus rex skeleton on yellow background above the words Jurassic Park on a black field.

Transcript: Episode 7 – Dr Ross Garner

This is a transcript of Episode 7: The Legacy of Jurassic Park with Dr Ross Garner.

Travis Holland 0:07
Welcome to Fossils and Fiction, a podcast exploring cultural and scientific ideas about dinosaurs.

My guest on this episode is Dr. Ross Garner, a lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies in the School of Journalism, Media and Culture at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom. Ross has expertise on media tourism, and dinosaur fandom. He joins me for a fascinating discussion about Jurassic Park and a number of other topics.

Dr. Ross Garner, welcome to Fossils and Fiction.

Ross Garner 0:59
Thanks, Travis. lovely to be here. Thanks for inviting me on.

Travis Holland 1:02
No problem at all, I really wanted to talk to you because I’ve seen about some of your work on Jurassic Park, on films on dinosaur fandoms. And so ahead of Jurassic World Dominion, I thought we could have a bit of a chat about the impact of Jurassic Park on film, the legacy of Jurassic Park. So I know you’re a researcher interested in dinosaur fandom? Could you tell me about that idea?

Ross Garner 1:26
Yeah, it’s, um, it’s something that has just been playing around in the back of my mind for a few years now. It came out of a conversation that I have with some colleagues at a conference once when we were talking about areas of study and seeing or studying kind of audiences and fandom and audience consumption of media and areas that were overlooked. And I just, I’ve always had an interest in prehistoric, in dinosaurs, natural history, since I was a young kid, part of which dates back to Jurassic Park, and so that then the term kind of dino-enthus… dinosaur fandom, just kind of started kicking around in my head, and the more I started thinking about it, the more there seemed to be a, some traction within it as well. And that there didn’t really seem to be very much work in terms of like audiences and fan consumption habits that paid attention to areas of what are kind of like factual fan objects, you know, there’s a lot of work around fictional franchises, and the way that audiences move across those various other kinds of aspects of commercial popular culture. But in terms of areas, like more factual things, or, you know, things like dinosaurs, that crossover between various forms of media and into other areas of culture, like museums, there didn’t really seem to be much research. So my interest in dinosaur fandom is looking at it in terms of cross generational appeal, because dinosaurs obviously remain objects of fascination to kids, but that also does extend into adults as well. And later periods of people’s lives, albeit with certain stigmas attached to it that, you know, tend to gum around fandom as well, in terms of things like stunted growth and ‘Haven’t you kind of got over dinosaurs, yet?’ you know, if you’re 20, 30, 40 and beyond, but it’s also kind of allowing me to kind of cast a much bigger net in terms of looking at where examples of dinosaur fandom come out. So you know, rather than it just being linked to media consumption, you also look at things and I’ve done some research into how audiences consume natural history exhibits. We have the big Dippy on tour exhibit, which was the famous skeleton cast from the Natural History Museum that’s usually in the main foyer there. It toured around the UK went through a number of cities, including coming to Cardiff and I spent some time at the Museum looking at how visitors to that attraction specifically interacted with it. You know, what they did whilst they were there? And how we could possibly see aspects of dinosaur fandom manifests themselves within those kind of museum spaces. Yeah,

Travis Holland 4:35
I think that’s really interesting because you’ve got multiple touch points, outside of films out, as you say, outside of fiction that the things that everybody think about Jurassic Park, of course, these touch points, which are cultural institutions, where people can access dinosaurs, and they’re kind of attached to the idea of dinosaurs or perhaps particular dinosaurs, and they enact that fandom insights that maybe fan researchers don’t often look at.

Ross Garner 5:03
Yeah, yeah. Or they certainly kind of mutate and enhance areas that fans have looked at. So one of the things that I’m really interested in is kind of spaces of audience consumption. And doing the dinosaur fandom research allows you to look at things like museums, which, you know, don’t typically get spoken about unless, again, it’s it’s museum exhibits linked to particular intellectual properties like Star Trek. And its links to science, or that there’s a new Dr Who Museum, which is about Dr. Who and science, which has which is opened in Liverpool in the UK. So it allows us to think about those. And I’m really interested as well about looking at some of the other kind of experiences that are on offer, like in Denver, you can go and do a day’s dinosaur digging, basically, it’s like a tourist attraction, that you’ll get picked up from your hotel and taken to a dig site, and you can kind of help out for the day, you know, actually kind of being a paleontologist, which I think is a wonderful thing. I’m really interested to get to know more about that as something that, you know, is not there in terms of like traditional media fandom.

Travis Holland 6:21
I interviewed a staff member from the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum in Winton, Queensland, and they have a similar program, although I think you go for a full week, but you go out onto a dig site, you pay, but you go out and do the work of a paleontologist, you know, and effectively, they get people who just come out and do this as kind of their holiday for the year so it’s a really interesting thought about these, these spaces of non traditional fandom. And I guess you’ve also got touch points, like, toys and things as well, you know, kids grow up with these these physical objects, which again, we might not often associate with fandom.

Ross Garner 7:01
Yeah, yeah, I mean, fandom is, there’s been a long history of fandom, and collector cultures that go around that. And certainly, dinosaurs feed into that. But what’s kind of interesting about, especially about franchises like Jurassic Park, is how that’s adapted to the demands of kind of toys and merchandising, from there, because I remember, just from a kind of personal anecdote, but it’s amazing how this kind of resonates with other fans I’ve spoken to when the first Jurassic Park came out in 93, of course, there was the merchandise and there were toys, including multiple dinosaurs, in the film that were there. But I was around about the age when it was like, Oh, come on, you shouldn’t really be playing with toys or buying toys anymore. And also, my parents, like, objected to buying these Jurassic Park toys, because basically, they were toy dinosaurs. And you could pick up a toy dinosaur for a very inexpensive amount, just a plastic dinosaur somewhere else. Whereas the Jurassic Park ones were selling much more inflated price points that were there. And the reason that they were doing that was they had the little JP 93 logo on them. So they were branded as Jurassic Park dinosaurs rather than, you know, generic dinosaurs that you could get in a in a toy shop for a few I would say pounds. Back in. Yeah, back in the early 90s, I think that was still the case. And it’s interesting how as Jurassic Park as a franchise has progressed, it has dry or necessitated different differentiating itself by including these increasingly branded dinosaurs that you know, mean, the parents aren’t just buying or collectors aren’t just buying their you know, generic replications dinosaurs in branded packaging. You know, things like Blue as this kind of almost celebrity velociraptor, that’s that is a completely you know, unique intellectual property that can be copyrighted. And you know, parents aren’t just buying a generic philosopher up to the kids want Blue specifically of it. And you see that with the increasingly kind of mad science ones in Jurassic World like the Indominus Rex and the Indoraptor and you know, I shuttering a little bit about whatever the Atrociraptor is in in Dominion, because it seems to be again this kind of like mad science genetic engineering aspect to it, but you really do see this kind of like branding of specific dinosaurs. Dinosaurs as almost celebrities in the case of Blue that are, yeah, bought in.

Travis Holland 9:53
I think that’s really right, because you look at the first Jurassic Park and although it had sort of iconic dinosaurs, the Dilophosaurus, the velocirator, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, it was left to fans to come up with a name for those, those dinosaurs right and so then the Rex became Rexy. But But by the time you get to Jurassic World, you get, as you say, blue, you get this named dinosaur that everybody can grab ahold of. And you get the Indominus Rex, which is a dinosaur that nobody’s got on the shelf, except Jurassic World as a brand, and then the Indoraptor in Fallen Kingdom as well. I think that’s really interesting. And of course, Camp Cretaceous, you know, it’s taken that to the nth degree with by naming more and more with the dinosaurs. You’ve got the Bumpy the blue Ankylosaurs right. Yeah, you’ve got Pierce the Kentrosaurus. And they’re all named. They’re all given these names and these personification, so they become characters, which would really feeds into that marketization of, I guess even more so then than ever before.

Ross Garner 11:01
Yeah, and I mean, Bumpy is a really good example of this kind of turn towards cuteness that you the Star Wars has, you know, absolutely mastered with the kind of baby Yoda thing, the idea about kind of opening up the appeal of the franchise through having this kind of like hypercube character that sells to children, but also kind of extends beyond to kind of like, more more feminized tastes as well. And I think I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re gonna do this with Blue;s baby within Dominion as well. It’s, yeah, it seems to be very much –

Travis Holland 11:40
I have to say, I was in a I was in a Lego store the other day, and one of the sets I just had to buy was was Blue and Beta. In Lego. So yeah, that’s how that’s how it is. Yeah, it works. I want to circle back just briefly to museums. You were talking about museums and their sort of strategies for audience engagement. But you were looking at that how are people engaging with the museum? How does the museum engage with people? How do they do audience development? I think they focus on that in the same way that we might think about it for media properties, usually, or do they do something different?

Ross Garner 12:18
It depends. I think, I think museums could do a lot more in terms of kind of recognizing audience enthusiasms towards dinosaurs. I think museums do a lot of work in terms of just expect that the skeletons themselves are spectacular enough to warrant interest from people. And I think there’s also something about the type of gazing that museums encourage, they encourage a more kind of scientific gaze towards things that you have the kind of cool detached appreciation from things and you inspect the specimen at your own pace, whether that’s just looking at it for a period of time, or whether it’s kind of touring around, taking photos of things from different angles, different aspects of the physiology of of the specimen, has there been an interesting example, I’ve been to the Field Museum in Chicago, where Sue the big T Rex skeleton is held. And that’s a really interesting example of a think how you can start to maybe build in different approaches to things. I mean, Sue itself is another example these kinds of branded dinosaurs, celebrity dinosaurs that you get nowadays. And the lanyard I’m wearing is kind of got kind of Sue’s logo on it and everything. But that. Sue is completely bracketed off from the other exhibits within the kind of natural history area. And the other kind of dinosaur fossils and skeletons that are there. And you walk through it in a way that suggests you are moving into a different space, but also it’s kind of constructed as though you’re moving back in time to incur – encounter Sue within their natural habitat. And it’s very important usually because that’s the pronoun as they say on Twitter.

Travis Holland 14:22
You kind of mentioned the Twitter account. I was gonna mention, I was gonna say Sue, Sue has a Twitter account, is that account run by the museum? Or is that sort of fan run account? Do you know?

Ross Garner 14:32
no, no, I, from what I gather, it’s all completely done by the museum because

Travis Holland 14:38
there’s a distinctive voice for museum Twitter account then.

Ross Garner 14:42
yes. Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s very outspoken about a variety of things and it does treat Sue as though Sue is a live dinosaur. Nowadays, it’s negotiating some of the other bits and bobs and issues that face us, especially things related to kind of climate change and things like that, which in some ways is unsurprising given, you know, there’s there’s some arguments are out there that dinosaurs culturally appeal because they were these huge creatures that became extinct. And you know, in comparison humanity is now the kind of equivalent dominant species on the planet and has managed to survive or be, you know whether that’s the case moving forward, which we’ll see over the next few years. So, yeah, in the going back to the Twitter account, for Sue, yes, it’s fascinating the way it’s run and the way it works to kind of develop this particular brand, that they have of Sue this personality that they attach to Sue, about, you know, they have favorite things in the world, which are ham and Jeff Goldblum, for example. Yeah, very, very fascinating.

Travis Holland 15:52
I’ve just, I’ve just gone to this Twitter account, which I already of course, follow. But you know, the top account is the top tweet is at the moment, “Every bisexual person has one of these four outfits in their weekly rotation.” And it’s an image of Alan Grant, Ellie Sattler and the kids and the kids from Jurassic Park, you know, and it but again, that language is is really extraordinary. And you’re right, I think it is run by by the Field Museum because they have a blog, which refers back to the Twitter account. So there you go, yes. I’m gonna have to get that social media person on maybe, for any for an interview at some point.

Ross Garner 16:33
That’d be fascinating. Yeah, yeah. I would love to speak to them myself. So yeah, if you do manage that, that’d be a fantastic,

Travis Holland 16:40
I wond if I’ll be talking to Sue the T Rex or, you know, the Such and Such Social Media Manager, I’ll see.

Ross Garner 16:48
If they could do it in character that will be even better.

Travis Holland 16:51
I’ll have to put on voice filter or something. I didn’t know I didn’t expect it to be chatting about Sue in a in a sort of interview that I billed as as discussing the legacy of Jurassic Park, but here we are. Media researchers, we can go anywhere. Absolutely.

Ross Garner 17:09
Absolutely, absolutely. And, I mean, taking things back to Jurassic Park, I mean, Sue is absolutely indicative of the popularity of the T Rex. Exactly. And you know, T Rex remain or Rexy, as you as you’ve rightly named them. It has been the star of Jurassic Park for a number of ways or some of the research that I’ve done into fans of Jurassic Park. You know, the T Rex always comes out as the favorite dinosaur that’s there for a variety of reasons that you know, it. It’s never really the antagonist or just the antagonist. You know, in some ways, it comes to save the pseudo family at the end of the first Jurassic Park. I love the end of Jurassic World where it kind of goes out onto the helipad and roars and you know, the connotations of the ‘Yeah, this is my kingdom now.’

Travis Holland 18:03
Even at the end of Fallen Kingdom, it walks up onto a kind of rocket at a city zoo and rolls it a lion, which is, you know, it’s a – the paleontologists I’m sure sort of shake their head at that kind of roaring display, because, but, but it’s become such an iconic part of that film franchise.

Ross Garner 18:23
Yeah, yeah, definitely. And a lot of the fans that you know, it’s there in the logo for it. You know, the T rex is kind of, in some ways, the unofficial mascot of the Jurassic Park franchise, and it’s been positioned that way from the start. So yeah,

Travis Holland 18:41
Well, we’ll have to see what happens to to Rexy in Dominion.

You’ve also taken a look at the relationship between Doctor Who and the Mesozoic in some of your work. Could you tell us about that?

Ross Garner 19:04
Yeah, sure. So it’s chapter that is in an edited collection called Doctor Who in Science, just give it a brief plug. It’s a very good collection.

Travis Holland 19:18
I’d talk about Doctor Who, but we should stay on the dinosaur topic is all.

Ross Garner 19:21
Yeah, but it looks at the way that dinosaurs have been used within TV Doctor Who. And it casts a broad focus the chapter, it looks at both kind of what’s referred to as Classic Who, so between 63 and 89 and then kind of new Who was well since he came back in 2005. And it looks at the way that dinosaurs considering them as kind of like giant lizards came through so it’s not looking at kind of like the more kind of humanoid Mesozoic monsters like the Silurians specifically it’s looking at when dinosaurs specifically pop up or things that might be viewed as kind of like quantitative dinosaurs, as well. So there’s a creature called the Merker in one serial, there’s another one called th Scarrison, which is equivalent to the Loch Ness Monster in another one, which is a cyborg. But I include them in the sample as well to kind of look at what the way in which dinosaurs as giant lizards have been portrayed. And it’s interesting because it means looking at some stories, and certainly some elements of stories from the past which are less revered by fan cannons. You know, the dinosaurs in Book Two, they they’re very much kind of televisual rather than film. So they’re perhaps less successful in terms of their realization, there was an ambitious story in the 1970s called Invasion of the Dinosaurs, which featured some Yes, puppet dinosaurs claymation dinosaurs that are perhaps less than successful on the budget of 1970s, BBC TV, I don’t know if anybody, if in the US, sorry, in Australia, you got the Hewitts campaign that featured like a plastic dinosaur, go, there was like a plastic version of Godzilla going on the rampage.

Travis Holland 19:21
It doesn’t ring a bell but I’ll have to have a look.

Ross Garner 21:21
But it’s kind of that standard. So it’s allowing us to kind of reevaluate some of the less revered instances of special effects in Doctor Who, but one of the, one of the arguments I put through there is actually there’s a number of different codings, or genre codings of dinosaurs that take place within the show. Yes, they’re used as examples of monstrosity and threats that need to be dealt with, in some way, shape, or form. But there’s also quite an emphasis on melodrama in relation to them that the dinosaurs are used as kind of, in some ways, quite pitiful objects as well, and things that should be expressed sympathy towards, as well as kind of monstrosity. And a lot of that comes as a result of the figure of the doctor being a kind of an alien or an outsider. And this kind of complicates some of the ideas that we have about dinosaurs. Dinosaurs are frequently used in narratives as threats that allow humanity to kind of demonstrate its superiority to previous Alpha species on Earth. This is I always find this is quite a controversial argument to make, because I remember seeing something recently where they were kind of right wing conservatives saying that, you know, dinosaurs appeal because they’re not political. And it’s like, yeah, they are there. They are used for inherently political purposes.

Travis Holland 22:59
They have a cultural role, of course its political.

Ross Garner 23:04
So dinosaurs are often used as these kind of threats of these giant creatures that once were the dominant species on Earth, but humanity kind of demonstrates its superiority in its rightfulness, or its rightful nature, as the current dominant species on the planet by overcoming the reemergence of dinosaurs, but Dr. Who complicates that, because adopters is kind of alien outside of figure who often sympathizes as much with the dinosaurs, and, uh, you know, doesn’t think they should be completely eradicated or destroyed or, you know, overcome, he is much more that, you know, if you can send them back to their own time, then that should be the case or, you know, if that’s not the case, they have a right to live and exist a peaceful existence as much as humanity does.

So they’re used for these kind of melodramatic purposes, and to make those particular points within the show. And then as we get into the new series, we get another coding of dinosaur where they’re used much more as spectacle, they are set up as kind of spectacular, albeit perhaps, limited in terms of their aesthetic appearance in the, in the classic show, where they use very much a spectacle and for publicity reasons in the new series, that can be in terms of like high concept naming of episodes. So there was one called Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, which was, you know, blindly using that kind of hook to immediately get people in, when actually the story was about something a little bit different. Or what was it when Peter Capaldi is Dr. launched there was frequently used in trailers and press images, giant T Rex rampaging through Victorian London, which plays on the kind of anachronistic nature that Doctor Who likes to use, but this was, you know, set up as what the first episode was going to be when actually, the T Rex was seen in the kind of teaser sequence before the titles. And that was about it really, you’ve heard it in the background a couple of times and then it disappears without providing any spoilers for anybody who might want to go and watch that so Doctor Whom or New Who has certainly used dinosaurs much more for examples of kind of spectacle and publicity, as well as some of those other things like melodrama. You know, there’s there’s quite a strong emphasis in the in the Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, one about certain dinosaurs being kind of victims, and that they need to be protected by humanity and as pets basically, which is, which is quite a common code in the you get of dinosaurs in pop culture as well.

Travis Holland 25:48
Even circling back to Jurassic Park, throughout the series, we’ve seen a lot of those those same themes circling around you have Fallen Kingdom was all about this sort of debate about, shall we save the dinosaurs from the volcano? Or shall we shall we let them die? And now, now in Dominion, that they’re out in the world, and they’re kind of everywhere? You know, that question of will humanity sort of reassert itself as the dominant species on the planet? Or will we, as Jeff Goldblum sort of intones in the in some of the trailers? Will will we, you know, I think he says, We’re not only subservient to nature or something, you know, but we might actually go extinct. So I can’t, I can’t, I can’t replicate that as well as Goldblum. We’re not to replicate, not only lack dominion over nature, we’re subservient to it is what it says.

Ross Garner 26:50
Yes, yeah. Yes, in that irrepressible form that Jeff Goldblum can deliver those kinds of lines.

Travis Holland 26:58
As you were talking earlier about about Jurassic Park toys just to circle back again, you were talking about Jurassic Park toys, and there’s a great line where Goldbloom foreshadows exactly that thing occurring in Jurassic Park, when he says, you know, you, you patented it, and you slap your label on it, and you put it out there in the world before you even thought about what you would have done.

Ross Garner 27:21
Yes, yeah, you stuck it on lunchbox

Travis Holland 27:24
He bangs the desk in sort of angry way. He gets very enthusiastic about delivering the point.

Ross Garner 27:33
Yeah, and that does allude to one, again, circling back some of those things about the impact of Jurassic Park, and maybe why it’s endured where other kind of Dinosaur Movies haven’t done it. It’s always had within it, that more intellectual philosophical set of debates around the kind of ethics of science and cloning, but it’s about, you know, to paraphrase Goldblum just just because you could do it doesn’t mean you should. And I think that’s one of the kind of the strengths of Jurassic Park. And again, this has come through in some of the fan survey research that I’ve done is that those, you know, as people get older, those are the elements that kind of resonate with them. You know, yes, obviously, the kind of spectacular of the dinosaurs and seing people get eaten, provide ongoing pleasures, if that’s the right word in terms of things, but certainly that more philosophical dimension about, you know, Well, should we be bringing these creatures back? Do we have a responsibility to look after them? And you know, what controls do there need to be on on science, and that’s not with, you know, falling into the kind of anti science brigade that’s there, although I dare say, some of those people use that as an example of that support their particular positions, but certainly that idea about kind of questioning and holding progress to account and yeah, which I think in some ways, is lost a little bit in some of the Jurassic World movies where it’s, it’s become just a bit more. I mean, what so the example I’ve used before is a bit like the genetic engineers in South Park, where it’s, oh, look, we’ve spliced together this and this, and we’ve made this and wow,

Travis Holland 29:18
there’s was a recent article about a very serious attempt to revive an Australian animal, the Thylacine, or the Tasmanian Tiger, which is sort of under way and even within the article, which I think was in The Washington Post. I’ll link to it in the show notes. There was a you know, the scientist said, Look, everyone asks about Jurassic Park, and then I went and found the thing on Twitter the article to retweet it and like every second reply was like haven’t we always already realized this was a bad idea. And there were gifs from Jurassic Park, and everything else and it’s like, we’re talking about real science here. Have an animal that went extinct barely 100 years ago, or not even at this point, and went extinct largely, you know, at human hands. We’re not talking about dinosaurs. But but the pop culture has overtaken the real science in a sense.

Ross Garner 30:21
Yeah, yeah, definitely. And it’s interesting that Jurassic Park continues to provide that touch point for people people’s immediate understanding of the ways to deal with it, because I think, yeah, I mean, some of the questions that Jurassic Park does ask about, you know, you the potential of bringing back something from fossilized DNA? Well, you know, what, might that also bring back in terms of, I don’t know, diseases, or in terms of introducing a new species into a vastly different ecosystem and habitat, that it in comparison to when it originally existed? Yeah, there are those very, very deep questions that need to be thought about and how, if this is even successful, possible, would it be handled? Quite frankly? Yeah. And then again, you know, for what purposes? Are you bringing this back, you bring it back to be a tourist example? Or, you know, a commodity that basically allows people to come and see it and to marvel at your scientific achievement? Or are you bringing it back for for other purposes that you know, will be set out in the wild and possibly breed again? And, you know, as with Jurassic World really, what what might be some of the consequences of that happening?

Travis Holland 31:41
Science fiction has a really a really great pedigree of guiding society to think about questions that perhaps we’re not ready to think about, but actually, we should be, we should be addressing in serious ways. And I think you know Crichton in particular, was, was really well equipped, he was really well practiced at asking those questions throughout a lot of his work. And that was very strong in in Jurassic Park, and Ian Malcolm really was his voice for asking those questions in Jurassic Park. He was the character that was sort of put into the park for the precise purpose of asking, should we be doing this?

Ross Garner 32:21
Yes, yeah. And it’s easy to lose sight of that with with Malcolm’s character because I mean, circling back again, to kind of like the enduring impact of the show of the show was the movie sorry. You know, one of the reasons why Jurassic Park continues to endure is you know, the memes and the gifs that are there, many of which that focus around it, and Malcolm whether that’s, you know, Goldblum being shirtless, or some of the other lines of dialogue that he produces, that are there, but you know, you do you strip away the Ian, Malcolm character from Jeff Goldblum, that kind of star persona. And you’re absolutely right. It’s there as this kind of voice of reason. The setup is this kind of like crazy, Rockstar, chaos, chaotician, which, you know, in 1993, nobody had ever really heard of, or, you know, was that a profession you could go down? Down? But actually, it’s it’s very, very serious questions that are asked there. And, you know, they’re introduced by him and supported by the other, more recognizable scientist characters that are that are in the movie. And yeah, and I mean, that’s, I mean, that’s, that’s the enduring appeal of Goldblum’s character one thing we haven’t touched upon, which I think also contributes to the movies or the franchises enduring impact is Laura Dern’s Ellie Sattler character, you know, I, I sometimes worry about overstating and making these kind of generalized things but given the fact that the character is not just the love interest was never really the damsel in distress. In fact, quite the opposite.

Travis Holland 33:58
The love interest aspect of her role, you know, it’s in the background, it’s just part of her character. It’s not central to the story. Yeah. Which I think is actually really actually really important because often female characters are there just as the love interest. She’s not. She’s there for you know, entirely legitimate reasons and she’s the first one to stick your hands in the in the dinosaur poop, right? She’s the she volunteers to go out after Arnold in the Raptor shed and there’s that great line where Hammond tries to say, oh, no, ‘I should go because I’m a’ he goes to say man ‘and you’re a’ woman and she’s like, ‘look, we can discuss sexism in survival situations when I get back’. She just is not going to take that nonsense, right? Ellie is ‘No bitch. I am not. Do not give me this right now. Like, people are dying.’

Ross Garner 34:54
Absolutely. It’s sad that that gets kind of overlooked because yeah, you love it. The character type that if you want to use it under strong female heroine, but the character. Yeah, you know, Ripley in Alien and Sarah Connor in The Terminator series were immediate touch points, for example, but especially at the time in blockbuster cinema in the early 90s. And I might be wrong, but I’m, I’m happy to be corrected about it. But I don’t really think that was another character, like, at least. And after that, as well, you know, if you look at some of the blockbusters of the mid to late 90s, you didn’t that character type didn’t, wasn’t reproduced in the way or I again, I might be wrong, to be correct.

Travis Holland 35:37
It was only very produced in Jurassic Park. So there was Ellie, and then you got to follow up of Sarah Harding in The Lost World and she was equally as competent, equally as strong. And I wrote a blog post recently, which is on the Fossils and Fiction website where I argued that actually the the makers of the Last World did her a disservice. Because while Ellie really came to the fore in in Jurassic Park the film, in the Lost World Book, Crichton actually packed Sarah Harding so many badass skills. She was just, she was riding a motorbike chasing down this velociraptor and instructing Kelly, Malcolm’s daughter, to learn how to shoot the Raptor at the same time. During the T Rex attack on the trailer, she was – Malcolm was totally comatose like he was done for and she climbed up the trailer carrying him up the outside of the trailer carrying him rather than that sort of dramatic scene you get where the trailer falls down around them in the film, she she actually climbed this thing. It was, you know, in the book, she was so strong and so powerful. I actually think all credit to Julianne Moore she she played Harding fantastically, but the film Harding was nothing like the book Harding. Yes, just not she was not on the same level. So and, and I had another piece – to just keep harping my own shame. This isn’t a word. It’s too late at night. I had another piece published in The Conversation today as we’re recording this talking about the strength of Claire Dearing as a character as well, you know, she was really heavily criticized for the heels and the costuming and everything else. Over the course of that film, she took charge, you know, she was in charge of the park second, basically only to Masrani and once he crashed his helicopter, she took charge, you know, and even right at the end, she said to she said to Lowery, let the T Rex out. I’ve got I’ve got a plan here. Let the T Rex out. And that was what finished off the Indominus. You know, that? Yeah. That was a boss move.

Ross Garner 37:55
Yeah, yeah, definitely. I think as well. I think that Fallen Kingdom tried to do a lot to kind of reclaim Claire. And I think I wouldn’t be surprised if Dominion also continues down that line.

Travis Holland 38:10
In Dominion. In the trailers that we’ve seen so far, she is the most sort of under threat. I noticed in writing this Conversation piece, there are three scenes in that first trailer where Claire is face to face with the dinosaurs. She’s face to face with an atrociraptor, she’s face to face with the Dilophosaurus. Quite literally, yeah, in the case of the Dilophosaurus, and then she’s sort of crawling through the swamp to get away from the Therizinosaurus, you know, yeah, she’s actually right there amongst the action, and it’s pretty extraordinary continuation of these really badass female characters, I think and then we get Kayla Watts who is like this wild pilots. You can tell I’m excited for this film.

Ross Garner 38:30
Yeah, yeah. And it’s nice to also it’d be nice to see see, I was at the Zia Holland character back as well. Hopefully in a bit more of an elevated role rather than just a kind of traditional feminized caring role,

Travis Holland 39:10
She’s been kept out a little bit. Zia the veterinarian is Daniella Pineda. Yeah, no, you’re exactly right. Zia came to the fore in sort of caring for a T Rex, right. Caring for a t. rex as a vet. Vet for a T. Rex is a is an extraordinary profession. Jurassic – it has a lot to say about these social issues. I think. It does it really well.

Ross Garner 39:50
It does. Yeah, it’s I mean, that’s another thing as well about the impact and the endurance of the first film especially is that it’s a really good, film. I mean, good is a loaded term in a variety of ways. But it holds up and it continues to hold up in a variety of different ways. It doesn’t feel like a movie that came out almost 30 years ago. You know, there’s still as resonant today, or I would certainly say it’s still as resonant today in some in terms of some of the themes that it deals with, as it was when it came out in 1993. And, and for something that was written off as like a kind of popcorn blockbuster theme park ride of a movie. Well, I think those people should go away and reevaluate what they said about it that because yeah, it is, for me, it is a masterpiece, and it is one of the greatest films of the last 30 years, possibly probably even more than that, probably even ever, I would say. So. Yeah.

Travis Holland 40:56
I almost just want to end it there. But I want to give you an opportunity to have a chat about your new book, which is coming soon, I believe?

Ross Garner 41:03
Yeah, it’s not mine. I’m not the editor of it. It’s been edited by a guy called Matt Melia, who is a academic at the Kingston University in the UK. And so I’ve got a chapter within it, which is about it’s called Jurassic Park and/as as Dinosaur Fandom. And certainly, a lot of the comments and observations that I’ve kind of referenced throughout this podcast are alluded to within in there as well. It starts off from trying to explore, you know, how significant dinosaurs are to people who identify as Jurassic Park fans, but it also just tries to do some kind of basic groundwork about it, because in comparison to the other big, high profile, high box office, you know, franchises like Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter, there’s not really well, there’s comparatively less work, if any, about Jurassic Park fans. So it starts off by doing some is based around survey responses, and identifies some of the kind of demographic issues around who we are Jurassic Park fans identifying that, you know, they’re predominantly white, predominantly Western, in the sample that I constructed. But one of the interesting things about it is that there’s just as many female Jurassic Park fans as there are male, which is quite a different assumption to a lot of the literature, a lot of the assumptions that are made about people who are who are adults and are dinosaur fans, it’s very much associated with stereotypes of stunted male masculinity and growth. And haven’t you kind of grown up out of this? But yeah, there’s equally as many female fans as male, fans of Jurassic Park. And there’s certainly equally when people were asked to list the aspects of the franchise that they enjoyed. There were as many female respondents who said, or women who said, dinosaurs were of interest to them as they were men. And that’s before, you know, getting into some of the more the deeper findings of the chapter where we find out that, you know, the way that dinosaurs kind of – all the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, become locusus for people’s ongoing attachments to Jurassic Park their emotional attachments to it and you know, some of the feelings that that can that the dinosaurs can inspire nostalgia being one of those things, but not necessarily nostalgia for the Mesozoic period, which nobody lived in, or nostalgia for dinosaurs, which are, you know, not necessarily kind of big, cute creatures and objects. A nostalgia that we might traditionally associated with a lot of the time it’s nostalgia for the memories and the identities of the people that they were at that particular time, but when they first watch the movies, and yeah,

Travis Holland 44:17
I’ll look forward to the chapter and let us know when it’s out, and I’ll make sure we share it on the Fossils and Fiction, socials.

Ross Garner 44:25
Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, I will do.

Travis Holland 44:29
Dr. Ross Garner, thank you so much for joining me for this conversation. If people want to look you up on Twitter or look up your work anywhere and find out more where can they do that?

Ross Garner 44:41
My Twitter handle is at Dr. RPG underscore TV. You can find me there. My website is if you if you Google Ross Garner, Cardiff. The Departmental website page for me will come up and you can find a list of publications that are there. My email address is GarneRP1@cardiff.ac.uk. So if anybody would like to drop me an email, I’ll be happy to, to chat with you.

Travis Holland 45:12
Fantastic. Thanks so much.

Ross Garner 45:16
Thank you. Thank you.

Travis Holland 45:24
Thank you to Dr. Ross Garner from Cardiff University for that fantastic discussion. If you’d like to be included in a future episode of fossils and fiction, you can send a voice file to us via our Anchor profile, or simply send us a link to your recorded voice message via any of the social media channels. If you’d like to guest star or interview on one of the episodes, simply get in touch via social media.

Thank you for listening to the Fossils and Fiction podcast produced by me, Travis Holland, with the support of Charles Sturt University. The podcast theme music is Sonora by Quincas Moreia via the YouTube Audio Library. Find more content on our social media channels, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Tiktok. Shownotes are available on the website fossilsfiction.co You can subscribe to the podcast on all major podcasting platforms.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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