Published: Nov. 1, 2002 By

“Heterosexuality is always in the process of imitating and approximating its own phantasmatic idealization of itself – and failing.”
– Judith Butler 21

“It’s the most advanced amusement park in the entire world. I’m not talking about just rides….We’ve made living biological attractions.”
– John Hammond, Jurassic Park’s creator

[1]   Watching Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park (1993), viewers follow the story of a theme park while experiencing visually and viscerally the treats and terrors that characterize an amusement park ride. As Dean Cundey, the film’s director of photography, explains, the intentional continuous movement and “visual twist and turns” of the camera take the audience “along for the ride” (qtd. in Fisher 38). But as Walt Disney, the father of theme parks, has contended, the ride, no matter how big its thrill, always tells a larger story. As most Disney critics point out, “it is precisely the plot or narrative sequence that is most often pointed to as the distinguishing characteristic of the rides in the Magic Kingdom park” (Waldrep 140). Keeping Disney in mind, then, what are viewers invited to invest in, ideologically, culturally, and psychologically, when they rideJurassic Park?

[2]   As the story goes, Disney founded his parks after a family trip to Coney Island convinced him that such places threatened his daughters’ physical and moral security. By contrast his parks, beginning with Disneyland, restored familial wholesomeness as the structuring narrative of popular amusement. Like Disneyland,Jurassic Park also begins with a family in jeopardy. Indeed, it’s not the resurrected dinosaurs but the white, middle-class, heterosexual, American nuclear family that faces extinction. Jurassic Park’s visitors all represent a splintered familial unit–siblings sent on vacation while their parents divorce, a couple hired on as partners in work but unwilling to become partners in parenting–and yet the park, unlike Disneyland, does not provide a restorative safe haven. Rather, it’s a gothic abode where the nursery turns out to be a thinly disguised science laboratory, and its progeny, the ruthless velociraptors, turn the kitchen and dining room into a hearth of horrific devouring. In this gory world of consumption, it’s not money nor time, but the family that gets spent.

[3]   This essay understands and situates this story of impending extinction in a gory world of consumption as part of a larger narrative. The film’s concern with the survival of the nuclear family revolves around a story about endangered heterosexual reproduction which, in turn, articulates larger questions about whether, in a world overrun by consumption, there still exists a way to achieve a sense of identity through (re)production.

[4]   As a common plot line in Hollywood films of the last two decades, the crisis and restoration of the nuclear family appears inJurassic Park as a fantastic tale about extinction where paternity resides at the top of the endangered species list. Yet, as an example of what Sarah Harwood calls a story of “paternal failure” (73), the film relocates the point of failure. It’s not that the paleontologist Alan Grant (Sam Neill) fails his kids; instead, he fails to see why anybody would want kids. Repulsed by children because they’re “noisy, messy, expensive and they smell,” the otherwise charming Grant is vehemently opposed to reproducing with his partner paleobotanist Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern). During Grant’s trip to the theme park, then, children join the dinosaurs as the “living biological attractions” for him to view. Accordingly, we can somehow justify the dinosaurs’ attack on the kids–the film’s literal “target audience”–our sadistic titillation notwithstanding, because their distress provides the means for Grant’s recovery.

[5]   If the father, as the role in crisis, is still the role “which structures the narrative” (Harwood 100), then how is the need for reproductive heterosexuality understood? It’s encapsulated in another story that motivates the action. Basically, the film’s drama revolves around the creation of a theme park that showcases live dinosaurs developed from DNA found in the blood of amber-encased mosquitoes. Threatened with closure because the dinosaurs have run amok, the venerable founder John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) calls in a team of experts to confirm his park’s safety. Solicited by Hammond as prehistoric experts, Grant and Sattler express interest in his invitation because his payment for their services will allow them to continue with their own archeological dig, a project which, without immediate funding, will face extinction. When we meet Grant, he is bumbling with new machinery, rankled by the idea that fossils can be located with radar rather than digging. Given that this is also the scene where Grant expresses his disdain for children, the film introduces him as someone whose role as a producer–of work, of knowledge and of progeny–is at risk. Compounding the paternal figure’s vulnerability to obsolescence, the film presents a problem that is two-fold: how to restore this figure’s prominence and productivity in a new age of technology, and how to laud fatherhood as something other than a capitulation to domesticity. As with other films from the first half of the 1990s, in Jurassic Park, “[b]oth sexuality and technology explode out of control, threatening patriarchal authority” (Harwood 189). But rather than pirating reproduction as a way “to control the domestic space” (Harwood 181), in Spielberg’s film, pirating reproduction functions to reassert paternal power in a public world. Compensation comes, then, not only in resurrecting paternal power, but in recreating human biological reproduction as an action that lauds the value of particular modes of production and models of productivity.

[6]   Jurassic Park repeatedly crosscuts and consolidates terms and issues of production, reproduction and productivity. Thinking through the ways that twentieth-century Western ideas of narrative and sexuality inform one another, Judith Roof suggests that such a tendency is representative, as “narrative and sexuality somehow jointly engender and reproduce a heterosexual ideology” (Comexiv). Characterized by its “(re)productive function” (xiv), heterosexual ideology simultaneously defines, naturalizes and is naturalized by ideologies of capitalism. As Roof explains: “The connection between reproduction and production occurs in their common appeal to a productive joinder. Where in human reproduction male and female come together to produce offspring, in capitalist production capital and labor come together to generate products” (xvii). Roof’s identification of a (re)productive end less as a “specific outcome” than a “shaping presumption” (xxxiv) identifies it as a pervasive ideology. This nexus of three avenues of social reproduction–sexuality, capitalism, and narrative–illustrates what Jean Baudrillard has defined as the mirror of production, “an unbridled romanticism of productivity” that forms and haunts the imagination (Mirror 17) and through which “the human species comes to consciousness” (19). Baudrillard sees even revolutionary ideologies like Marxism defining themselves within such an ideology, so that the capitalist system of production is only subverted “in the name of an authentic and radical productivity” (17). “Everywhere,” Baudrillard argues, “man [sic] has learned to reflect on himself, to assume himself, to posit himself according to this scheme of production which is assigned to him as the ultimate dimension of value and meaning” (19). It is this ideology that defines and subverts the crises in the film and accounts for the linkage and slippage between production and reproduction.

[7]   The film engages with the terms of economic production in its presentation of the theme park as a landscape of capitalist consumption. Hammond’s overwhelming motive in cloning dinosaurs is to make a profit. When the team of visiting scientists arrives to evaluate the park’s safety, they launch an investigation of the new modes of production that develops into a debate about the scientific and ethical value of the technological development and accumulation of knowledge that Hammond has employed to maximize his profits. In assessing who reaps the benefit of Hammond’s production, and at what cost, the scientists evaluate cloning as an example of a capitalistic mode of production that organizes “productive activity, the extraction of surplus value and the reproduction of social life” (Smith). The reproduction of social life takes on a literal meaning, as the film worries about cloning as a particular venue for the reproduction of life forms. Coupled with the narrative about having human babies, the film’s doubled focus on biological reproduction can’t be separated from its concerns about modes of production as representative of cultural reproduction. In fact, all of the modes of technology in the film, cloning and hacking, but also special effects, are about reproduction, and foreground anxieties surrounding the producer’s role in various types of reproduction. The film’s story, then, can be understood as repeatedly expressing an overwhelming concern with defining the various and intersecting routes of “rightly directed productivity” (Roof Reproduction 11).

[8]   Like so many other Hollywood films that resuscitate an ailing family, Jurassic Park ends predictably. In the closing shot, Grant nestles with the surrogate family (Hammond’s grandchildren) that he has rescued. But the film’s lack of aberrance allows us to turn our attention to the path of the narrative. With Grant’s stubbornness as a launching point, Jurassic Park produces pleasure by tracking the attractions and the detours on the ride to reproductive heterosexuality; this is the plot that emerges as the distinguishing characteristic of the film’s amusement park ride. But rather than suggest that the importance of the former overrides the latter, I want to look at the point of intersection between these popular attractions, asking what links the touristic with the heterosexual as they are represented here. Focused on the continued sanctity and predominance of the nuclear family unit, Disneyland’s origin story represents one specific practice of reproductive heterosexuality. Yet it’s not Disneyland, but a more recent theme park, Universal Studios Hollywood, home of Jurassic Park–The Ride, that offers a narrative parallel to the dramatic shape of Spielberg’s film.

[9]   At Universal Studios and in Spielberg’s film, recurring visits “behind the scenes” dramatize the revelation of secret, off-limits knowledge. Replicating movie sets from some of Hollywood’s hottest films, the post-Disney theme park promises to show visitors “how movies are made” (Universal). With its enterprise of dinosaur breeding, Jurassic Park promises to show how babies–reptilian and human–are made. Ostensibly about cloning dinosaurs, the back regions of Jurassic Park reveal a narrative about human reproductive practices that will supposedly deny that the project of heterosexuality is an institution of endless repetition where its participants just buy into the practice rather than produce it. It’s not just what Grant learns that is significant, then, but where he learns it. These tours’ revelations of modes of production function to reinstate the viewer as producer at a time when various technologies–from state-of-the-art equipment and special effects to cloning and hacking–call that identity into question. For the theme park, and for Jurassic Park‘s reproductive heterosexuality, recreation means re-creation. At Universal Studios, tours backstage transform the consumer into the producer. In the film’s story of the cloning of extinct species, trips backstage articulate and allay anxieties about the male role in reproduction by resurrecting it as an act of invention and discovery.

[10]   Writing about the alienation spawned by modernity, Dean MacCannell theorized that modern man [sic], having lost “his attachments to the work bench, the neighborhood, the town, the family, which he once called ‘his own,'” went in search of authenticity (Tourist 91). The disruption of “real life” prompted a touristic fascination with the “real life” of others (91). According to MacCannell, sightseers, “motivated by a desire to see life as it is really lived,” attempted to see the back regions of the places they visited (94). At the end of the twentieth century, while alienation may still be prevalent, its meaning has shifted to reflect the different relations created by globalization. Where does one look for authenticity? From the Concorde to the Internet, the technologies of globalization have fundamentally altered ideas of distance; the universe seems fully explored and readily accessible, if only through a television or computer screen. At the same time, as Baudrillard has pointed out, in this world of simulation, where constructions of Venice in Las Vegas are deemed as good as the “real thing,” there is a simultaneous confusion about and desire for the “real.” Linking it to the touristic, he explains, “Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real, whereas all of Los Angeles and the America that surrounds it are no longer real, but belong to the hyperreal and to the order of simulation” (“Precession”12). In this time and space, “it is the real that has become our true utopia–but a utopia that is no longer in the realm of the possible, that can only be dreamt of as one would dream of a lost object” (Baudrillard “Simulacra” 123). And so, enter narrative. On and off TV and computer screens, stories and spaces that take us behind the scenes are associated with the real, the truth, and/or the authentic. Exploring backstage spaces “allows adults to recapture virginal sensations of discovery” (MacCannell Tourist 99). In Spielberg’s film, the characters’ relocation to the prehistoric wonderland of Jurassic Park can be read as a journey behind the scenes of time and evolution in a millennial moment when space seemingly offers no more possibilities for exploration or fulfillment. This late twentieth-century entertainment, like those dinosaur exhibits popular at the end of the nineteenth century, displays a fascination with extinction, suggesting an anxiety particular to millennial moments. In the film, what we find is that the pleasure of experiencing multiple temporalities and spatialities simultaneously (one of the promises of the technologies of globalization) both dodges and directs us to a story that resurrects the desire for stabilized physical and temporal presence. And again, as in other Hollywood films of the 1980s and 1990s, it is the family that serves to secure “mythologies which attempted to resolve contemporary social panics” (Harwood 12). Jurassic Park‘s panic combines a vulnerability to obsolescence with a fear that we are no longer discoverers, unable to produce anything new or authentic. On the brink of extinction, the family is resurrected and promoted as the ultimate (re)producer.

Consuming Interests

[11]   This panic about issues of production and reproduction reveals itself in a landscape of consumption. The horror at Jurassic Park is that the engineered dinosaurs, born in the lab and denied the male chromosome, grow to be ravenous adult females. Most obviously, these monstrous females represent consumption because they are eating the park’s workers. But the dinosaurs are also represented as objects of consumption. They are the “real biological attractions” that will draw consumers to the park and make Hammond rich and famous. When they break loose, they turn on their breeders, adopting practices of insatiable devouring and reproduction in the wild that thwart the goals of capitalist and patriarchal order. Out of control, the dinosaurs violate “rightly directed productivity” (Roof Reproduction 11). They refuse to show that they are only made possible by, that is, are the products of, the “real miracle workers,” the scientists, but also the string of venture capitalists who have invested in them.

[12]   The dinosaurs’ devouring practices bring attention to the modes of production threatened by consumption gone haywire. In a human parallel, individuals unwilling to accept their rightful positions in normative systems of production and productivity are repeatedly identified with overconsumption. Vilified as the dinosaur embryo thief who sells out to the biggest checkbook, Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight), the park’s chief computer programmer, represents the gluttonous excesses of consumption and accumulation. He talks too much, eats too much, and wants too much money. His voracious appetite for food and money connects and collapses understandings of consumption. Most obviously, his consumption refers to his ingestion of food. At the same time, the suggestion is that he overconsumes in relation to his output and, in doing so, not only fails to do his work but to embrace the ethical code of productivity that underwrites that work.

[13]   Overweight, brash, and myopic, Nedry disrupts order. He hacks into the computer system to steal the embryos, shutting down security and setting the dinosaurs free. The pictures of bikini beauties on his computer screen confirm his interest in “indecent” rather than reproductive sex. He’s a slovenly, disgruntled employee whose overconsumption exists in antithesis to his productivity; “look at his work station–what a complete slob,” says co-worker Ray Arnold (Samuel L. Jackson). Nedry takes full part in the consumption of commodities–he creates waste–but he refuses to develop a meaningful relation and commitment to production. In many ways, Nedry hints at one version of a heterosexist stereotype of a homosexual. Self-serving and driven, his interest is in individual profit rather than team production. Taking the embryos out of circulation, he emphasizes a desire divorced from labor and, therefore, represents excess rather than surplus. Because his habits of consumption enable Nedry to take more than his share, they, ultimately, all represent acts of stealing; the embryo theft is just the most heinous. Indeed, his computer hacking represents a staggering breakdown in systematic and socio-economic order specifically because it produces and consumes with the same gesture.

[14]   In the film’s narrative, consumption becomes unproductive when the individual loses his/her relation to production or, in the case of the dinosaurs, reproduction. The postmodern chaotician Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) frames his condemnation of Hammond’s experiment as a problem of labor practices: “I’ll tell you the problem with the scientific power that you’re using,” he tells Hammond, “it didn’t require any discipline to attain it [. . .]. You didn’t earn the knowledge for yourselves so you don’t take any responsibility for it.” Unlike the film’s cloning capitalists, Sattler, Grant, and Malcolm all endorse forms of the Protestant work ethic. Doggedly steadfast, they outlive the dinosaur onslaught.

[15]   In Jurassic Park, then, exalting individual consumption as the ultimate collective goal has its dangers. As the dinosaurs and Nedry illustrate, unchecked consumption ultimately breeds a wide range of “illegitimate” production practices from overconsumption to betrayal to debilitating lawsuits (like the one “unfairly” brought against Hammond’s park). All threaten to devour systems of order. These threats provide a springboard for the film’s nostalgia for production.

Major Productions: Disney, Fordism and Behind-the-Scenes Spaces

[16]   This nostalgia echoes Disney’s original desire to reestablish order in the realm of cultural production. By design, Disneyland promises a pleasure free from literal and symbolic dirt–not only trash and waste, but disorder, displays of sexuality, spontaneity, and “tough-looking” employees. The elaborate division of the theme park into on- and off-stage spaces premiered a vast and intricate infrastructure that conceals the unsightly aspects of the business of pleasure. While “pneumatic tubes ‘whisk away refuse like magic'” (Wilson 160), elaborate technical systems keep the inner workings of amusements hidden and quiet. Disney’s architectural underground sweepingly suppresses modes of production. Employees don their costumes in subterranean spaces before traveling unseen through labyrinthine tunnels in order to emerge into their appropriate part of the park. Bifurcating space into above/below, valuable/waste, visible/invisible, and public/private, the parks’ architectural design defines the goal and the fruition of social reproduction as the rigorous separation of worth and waste.

[17]   Disney’s physical and ideological structure historically coincides with processes that splinter the identity of the American worker. Very broadly, twentieth-century relations between production and consumption in the U.S. are shaped by the effects of the large-scale implementation of Fordist practices. The labor processes made (in)famous by assembly line production increased the efficiency and standardization of production by making uniform and compartmentalizing labor tasks, de-skilling workers, decreasing labor value, that is, generally disempowering workers. Since that time, in Philip Cooke’s words, “workers have come to accept that if there is relatively little satisfaction to be had from the labour process itself, deprived as it is of any significant element of control, then it is in the sphere of consumption that psychological satisfactions are to be found” (66).

[18]   With their bifurcated designs, Disney parks like Disneyland, Disney World, and EPCOT literalize spatially Marx’s notion of commodity fetishism. As Alex Wilson has also noted, the facets of production are hidden from sight, “much as productive forces are hidden in the image of the commodity” (160), so that we are left to revel in our role of consumers. This capitalist scheme works to hide from view and thus erase from memory exploitative labor practices. This erasure is necessary so that individuals will buy into the system as consumers since, conceivably, in their roles as workers they would reject the system. But at theme parks like Universal Studios Hollywood, the display of the behind-the-scenes space that Disney emphatically concealed sells the tickets. If we accept this to be the case, why display the modes of production that dispel the trick of the commodity?

[19]   In fact, many touristic enterprises market the attractions of production and productivity. Archaeological tours, for example, charge large fees for vacationers to work at digs. Such tours’ appeal seems to be their emphasis on meaningful activity. By positioning tourists in a larger train of events that, perhaps, couldn’t succeed without their participation, these enterprises send visitors home feeling like valuable agents in social reproduction. However, such a narrative stimulus seems difficult to adapt at theme parks since these amusements sell themselves precisely as the epitome of frivolity and fun. Because such parks control every inch of our experience, they crowd us out as producers and as imaginative participants, offering consumerism, as many Disney critics point out, as the visitor’s single activity (see, for instance, Kuenz and Willis). In contrast, theme parks like Universal Studios Hollywood pitch the joys of participation as the ultimate pleasure.

Universal Studios Theme Park: Performing Post-Fordist Pleasures

[20]   This is the trick: Universal Studios costumes consumption as an act of production. The welcoming brochure addresses visitors as animated, adventurous actors, imploring them to “[s]tep into the spotlight. Come face to face with world-famous stars! Learn movie making secrets…Star in your own thriller” (Universal). Things happen to those who visit Universal Studios; your heart will stop on Jurassic Park–The Ride, you’ll “scream through time” on Back to the Future–The Ride, and be blown out of the water by the pyrotechnics and special effects of Waterworld–A Live Sea War Spectacular (Universal). Universal Studios’ invitations to activity and adventure exalt role playing, performance, and audience interaction. While the narrative tightness of themed lands and audioanimatronics organizes the pleasures of Disneyland and Disney World, live shows, stunt people, and special effects deliver Universal Studios’ “amazing adventures.” Disneyland maps its terrain unilaterally; Universal Studios has the barest of floor plans (the place is divided into the upper and lower lots) with primarily open, “directionless” space, inviting interaction and invention. Visitors can pose with a huge replica of JAWS or in front of a backdrop featuring the famous Hollywood sign. Photo opportunities are left to the guests’ imaginations and here, unlike EPCOT, no Kodak instructions direct visitors where to stand to shoot. At the Hollywood Cantina (one of the park’s many opportunities for alcoholic refreshment), patrons can dance with actresses costumed as Lucille Ball, an option imbued with the physical and conceptual mobility integral to the amusements. AtWaterworld, one of several live shows, cast members spray unsuspecting audience members’ backsides and then innocently point to other audience members as the culprits, all to the screaming delight of the show’s seated fans.

[21]   Seemingly less rules-bound than Disney parks, Universal Studios embraces performativity. Even the lines are different, an important feature since guests can spend half their visit standing in them. In both parks, many rides demand extensive space and strategies for organizing crowds into serpentine order. While waiting in line for most rides at Disneyland, some kind of visual stimulus entertains guests, often glimpses of people already on the ride. Some of the more recent rides provide a narrative to entertain those who may wait up to two hours to actually board. But even those–Space Mountain, The Temple of the Forbidden Eye, andSplash Mountain come to mind–often address the visitor only with songs or as tourists, or with bald pitches for the ride’s corporate sponsor. The Temple of the Forbidden Eye‘s narrative slogan is “Keep your eye on the globe.” The Foucauldian drift of the story becomes apparent at the ride’s end, where a sign announces “True Rewards Await Those who Chose Wisely. AT&T.” It’s always the discipline and punish, control and reward, narrative. Surprisingly enough, people standing in these lines overwhelmingly do keep their voices down, don’t cut in front of others, swear, complain, or act out in other rude ways. However, the mingling of bodies that Disney wanted to curtail occurs precisely because his parks are so popular. Extensive and explicit flirtation passes the time while people wait in long lines for the “real” attraction.

[22]   By contrast, the lines at Universal Studios are generally more complex, moving through various spaces and changing shape. At many attractions, speakers broadcast story extensions of the movie on which the ride is based. Most notably, these narratives assign the visitors a mission. In line at Back to the Future–the Ride, visitors are told their job is to chase down Biff, the character who has stolen one of the automobile time machines. In short, you’re appointed something to do when technically you’re doing nothing. Waiting morphs into productivity and performance in even the most benign of rides, evident at E.T.’s Adventure (also the visitor’s adventure), where a voice projected through an intercom system informs guests that their duty is to help E.T. save his planet. The narrative even tries to undercut its necessarily repetitious style with moments of apparent spontaneity. At one point in line guests receive interplanetary ID cards. Lucky patrons will hear their names announced over the speaker. In this “personalized” atmosphere, customers adopt roles as figures other than tourists. Universal Studios emphasizes multiple, flexible, and diverse identifications, making available at least the possibility of many more fantasy subject positions than Disneyland. While Disney’s rigid order, automatons, and de-skilling of tourists imparts a Fordist tone, Universal Studios moves theme parks into the post-Fordist age. Universal Studios packages and sells invention. Like a characteristically post-Fordist service industry, the park capitalizes on attractions that seem to meet niche markets, emphasizing changing, heterogeneous exhibits where performative options allow customers to experience the same ride differently on repeat visits. Each visitor can repeatedly go on the same ride and produce a new experience, so that experience, rather than the commodity, as MacCannell and Caren Kaplan both have pointed out, becomes the desired end of tourism. Here, the trick is that repetition is masked as invention.

[23]   This scenario emphasizes the role of the participant. Whether chosen out of the audience to appear in a live show, or cheering on those who are selected, visitors fundamentally contribute to the park’s trademark spontaneity. In return, the spotlight turns on them. “You’ll be the star of the show,” promises the park’s brochure, “as our special-effects experts take you behind the scenes for a first-hand look at movie magic” (Universalemphasis added). Although attractions like the Backlot Tram Tour,Backdraft, and The World of Cinemagic take tourists backstage to show them an intimate and more authentic experience of a front region (here, the movie industry) in the terms that MacCannell has suggested in The Tourist, they also present a symbolic and material arena that speaks to this historical moment. As we end one century and move into another, there seems to be no new physical place left in the universe to discover. The back region becomes a conceptual landscape of detection, invention, and conquest that allays the frustrations of a landlocked American imagination. The journey revives the prominence of the active producer, catapulting him/her to center stage. In a land where we “make a difference” and most notably “just do it,” this kind of pleasure sells itself as the American way. This popular trend showcases an ability to imagine oneself able to exit from a landlocked or civilization-locked mentality; the fantasy keeps alive the idea of discovering new frontiers. (Perhaps catching on to the trend, the Disney corporation promised a “tour that will take us above, below, and behind the scenes” as part of its 50th anniversary Disney World special. But the tour doesn’t deliver, limiting viewers to glimpses of workers already in costume in the “subterranean backstage” [Walt].)

[24]   As they promise detection and demystification, these new frontiers do not come without ambivalence. During Jurassic Park–The Ride, passengers on “runaway raft[s]” (Universal) make a screech- and splash-filled journey into a behind-the-scenes space with a titillating trespass into an “unauthorized area.” Although the amusement begins serenely enough, with the visitors floating through a lush lagoon, lulled by Richard Kiley’s voice-over about “time eternal,” the pace picks up when the boat takes a wrong turn. Swerving into the off-limits “biogenetics zone,” passengers fall prey to water-spurting, raft-rocking dinosaurs with dead-on aim. As the boat makes it way through cavernous warehouses littered with barrels and crates of hazardous materials, the ride’s detour reveals that the post-industrial landscape, not the prehistoric one, is the world out of control. The T-Rex that towers over the scene is only the most ferocious reminder that biotechnological operations threaten the sense of self.

[25]   The climax of the ride is an 84-foot drop at a gravity-defying angle. Stunned, soaked, and delighted passengers disembark through the Jurassic Park store, where one glimpses the final attraction: a large-screen projection of a picture taken of each boat as it plummets down the drop. Each photo, of course, may be purchased in 5 x 7 or 8 x 10 size. Here and throughout the park, visitors are invited to buy into a vision of themselves as an odd hybrid of consumer/producer. For much of the success of the photo depends upon the visitor’s actions when the camera snaps its shot. Are your hands up? Do you show an awareness of the camera and fluency with handling the gravity-defying challenges of the ride? Have you managed to make this ride your own? In the theme park and in Spielberg’s film, off-limits spaces not only display forms of production, but they also become the settings for performances that laud productivity in a world driven by consumption. Ironically, at the same time that numerous advanced technologies (from hidden cameras to special effects) place the visitor center stage, their ubiquity can also hint at the individual’s global insignificance and potential disposability. Indeed, for at least one Disney critic, the display of the modes of production is not always pleasurable. Shelton Waldrep complains that Disney-MGM Studios (a park like Universal Studios) “is even less childlike in that here the point to almost every ‘attraction’ is to celebrate the loss of innocence by seeing firsthand how movies are made” (150). How movies are made, how babies are made: critiquing the demystification of the miracle of production, Waldrep identifies pleasure as antithetical to a loss of (sexual) innocence. But the pleasure evoked by these attractions seems more complicated than this, especially because of our response to the technological wonder of special effects.

(De)Tours Behind the Scenes

[26]   The attraction of special effects is their ability to create an illusion and simultaneously draw attention to their ability to produce it. Newer theme parks that make the off-stage the main attraction capitalize on a seeming contradiction. As with the film’s special effects, the pleasure is in being tricked, trying to detect the trick, and enjoying both simultaneously. So, too, with Jurassic Park‘s narrative of reproductive heterosexuality. Its own special effects are scripted spatially through a bifurcated space where going behind the scenes represents a detour from the sanctioned ride and traces a desire to find the trick. Spatially, it represents the promise that the secret of heterosexuality’s trick will be unveiled, and this pleasure forwards the film’s narrative.

[27]   As suggested by the forays into unauthorized territory duringJurassic Park–The Ride, the trips behind the scenes in Spielberg’s original are plotted as detours. Denoting a change of course, these deviations might threaten the completion of the master narrative, or they may provide just another turn in the story. As the detour suggests, the undercurrent of bourgeois leisure is that it creates diversions distracting enough to stall its own mechanisms of reproduction. Coney Island is case in point: created to channel and contain a burgeoning work force during its shapeless leisure time, the park produced a space for the mingling of myriad bodies in ways that exceed the parameters of sanctioned bourgeois-defined social reproduction. AsJurassic Park and countless other contemporary amusements indicate, bourgeois production takes up the reproduction of the distractions. The narrative creates its attraction by distraction. But the attraction of a detour can be dangerous. Is it riveting enough to incite defection? Or does it function in the service of the sanctioned narrative, displaying so as to diffuse potential perils? Noting the popularity of getting off the beaten path, Jonathan Culler argues that these touristic forays take place “in terms that are already prescribed by that system” (166). And, as Roof argues, “the omnipresence of the perverse” provides “many delightful attractions and distractions on the way to narrative completion [. . .]. Together the perverse and the ‘normal’ produce a narrative of joinder and production ending in marriage, a child, victory, death, or even–and especially–another narrative” (“Introduction” 430). The Hollywood sequel comes immediately to mind. If Jurassic Park champions a healthy dosage of off-road bushwhacking precisely so it can be about getting back on the track of normative heterosexuality and “authorized breeding,” then the question becomes: what might we learn about what props that official narrative by going behind the scenes?

[28]   The first detour occurs when Hammond ushers his guests into the visitor center, strapping them in revolving seats for a theater presentation that highlights the technological sleight of hand that has produced his park’s “living biological attractions.” Eager to see the operations of the science lab on view, Drs. Grant, Malcolm, and Sattler break out of their locked seats and disrupt the tour. Mixed up with the titillation of trespassing, the desire to view modes of production eventually seduces Grant into participating in activities of reproduction. Backstage in the science lab, Hammond displays his parental investment in the dinosaurs, informing his visitors that he insists “on being here when they’re born.” With his guests gathered around the birthing table, wide-eyed with wonder, Hammond coaches a hatching chick along to the swells of a syrupy soundtrack. He is the consummate birthing coach: “Come on, come on, push, push, very good, there you are, come on.” Then a curious thing happens. As Hammond tells his guests that the dinosaur babies “imprint on the first creature they come in contact with,” Grant leans over the table and repeatedly points at himself in silent wonder. In a laboratory where animal specimens are engineered to be female, the human males appropriate the activities of reproduction and motherhood.

[29]   While Sattler and Malcolm eventually drop out of the film’s main plot, the story instead tracks Grant’s appropriation of the nurturing instinct. Initially allergic to the mere proximity of children, he slowly begins to tolerate kids. After saving Hammond’s grandchildren, Lex (Ariana Richards) and Tim (Joseph Mazzello), from the T-Rex attack, Grant leads the kids into the crook of a tree to spend the night. Settling in, Tim and Lex each snuggle into the befuddled scientist’s body. The film’s closing shots recreate this nesting scene, but Grant’s demeanor has changed dramatically; here, he cuddles contentedly with the two kids. Representative of the father Vivian Sobchack identifies with contemporary science fiction, Grant’s success is “predicated on the interdependenttransportation and/as transformation of the traditional patriarchal and paternal adult male body [. . .] into and out of perilous, domestic, familial space” (22).

[30]   But in showcasing the talents of the aging Hammond, the science lab scene also discloses the paternal anxiety and logic that supports both production and biological reproduction. In films with a paternal crisis, Harwood argues that the father is “both the desired outcome of stability, and desirous subject/architect of that equilibrium” (100). In the film, the logic of this scenario is made explicit: as architect, the father must continually produce and reproduce his role as creator. The father’s appropriation of the mother’s role is justified, necessary even, because when the mother tries to make it on her own, she becomes monstrous, as the ravishing female dinosaurs attest. From the opening scene when the game warden Robert Muldoon (Bob Peck) yells, “Shoot her, shoot her” to the “clever girl” he whispers in a later scene to the velociraptor who is about to kill him, the film treats the dinosaurs as females. Early on, Muldoon tells the guests about the velociraptors: “We bred eight originally, but when she came in she took over the pride and killed all but two of the others. That one, when she looks at you, you can see she’s working things out.” In making the dinosaurs all “she’s,” the film suggests that monstrousness is solely the domain of females, even though we are told that the males are “out there.” However, when praised off-screen during publicity events, the dinosaurs’ pronoun flips. Behind-the-scenes narratives tell a different story. In an interview about special effects, Jurassic Park‘s dinosaur designer Stan Winston brags, “It’s wonderful how this guy [the velociraptor] performs–he’s fast and big and dangerous and he’s a great actor” (qtd. in Magid 49). “Velociraptor,” enthuses critic Phil Patton, “is a dinosaur for our time: a little guy triumphant through teamwork” (106). The film’s dinosaurs, it seems, eerily mimic a distinctly human cultural pattern: they are male when producers and female when consumers. In the film, the same is true. The devouring dinosaurs are always identified as female; however, when Grant finds hatched eggs in the wild, his explanation is that, like some West African frogs known to spontaneously change sex in a single-sex environment, some of the adult females have become male. It’s a rather staid heterosexist conclusion considering the other kinds of propositions, like culling DNA from mosquito blood, the film offers. Interestingly, the pronoun flipping extends, in one case, to the film’s humans. In articles on Jurassic Park, film critics Sarah Harwood and Peter Wollen each erroneously asserts that Tim not Lex is the computer whiz: respectively, they identify the “redeemer-son’s use of technology” (Harwood 190) and “the young boy who gets the central computer system working again” (Wollen 8) as the saving action in the film.

Reproduction as Invention

[31]   The ideological underpinnings of the behind-the-scenes stories about Spielberg’s film bear an uncanny resemblance to those operating in the movie. Like Universal Studios, various forms of reproduction are masked as invention. According to inside reports, the film’s design team built the velociraptors half again as large as their historically-reputed size of five or six feet (Corliss 50). “Then,” as Time magazine’s Richard Corliss reported, “a surprising thing happened. In Utah, paleontologists found bones of a real raptor, and it was the size of the movie’s beast. ‘We were cutting edge,’ says the film’s chief modelmaker, Stan Winston, with a pathfinder’s pride. ‘After we created it, they discovered it'”(50).

[32]   Resting on an intriguingly bizarre logic (we created it, so then they discovered it), Winston’s fantasy of parthenogenesis redefines production. In his origin story, he wasn’t copying a model, but using his imagination to will transformations in history. It was his fictional invention that conjured the appearance of its scientific counterpart. Extinction, then, provides an opportunity for invention and discovery. In the film, going behind the scenes also signifies a desire to excavate buried knowledge that sheds light on cycles of reproduction, evolution, and extinction. During the scene in the surrogate nest, Lex asks Grant, “What will you and Ellie do now if you can’t dig up dinosaur bones?” Grant replies, “I don’t know. We’ll just have to evolve too.” Extinction of their work creates an opportunity for a different joint production.

[33]   Grant’s refusal to procreate represents a fear that reproduction engenders the replacement, and thus, extinction of the parents. Tim’s appearance as Grant’s copy represents this anxiety. In an outfit identical to Grant’s, Tim also lugs around a copy of Grant’s book on the evolution of dinosaurs. Having memorized the text, he questions the validity of the paleontologist’s argument. In Lacanian terms, Tim’s mimicry of Grant registers as a relation of aggressivity. Grant can’t stand Tim, and the sadistic violence towards Tim (he is, again and again, the main target of the dinosaurs) symbolically displaces and plays out Grant’s anxiety that the potential copy threatens to annihilate the self.

[34]   The film resolves this conflict by understanding extinction as providing an opportunity for invention. Countless modern generations are fascinated by the extinction of dinosaurs, speculating and theorizing about the plausible causes. The mystery surrounding the seemingly sudden disappearance of this omnipotent species also induces a bit of human panic; if it could happen to them, we can imagine it happening to us. This anxiety is disavowed, rerouted, and transformed into a drive to conceive the dinosaurs’ history and evolution. The focus on invention redirects anxiety about extinction. Moving beyond imperialist discovery, invention hypes the supremacy of the producer. In Winston’s case, his animated reproductions exist as the genuine article. In the film, the science lab episode spotlights the marvel and skill of Hammond, again recasting reproduction as a form of invention. Finally, Grant’s evolution from paleontologist to procreator unveils the function of the movie’s endangered nuclear family; it re-asserts the need for a hierarchy topped by a male (re)producer. For the men at least, the trick of reproductive heterosexuality is the masking of repetition as invention and novelty.

[35]   For women the heterosexist ideology of pleasure works differently. As Laura Dern’s character illustrates, men make a transformation that is unnecessary to women. Dr. Sattler seemingly always has had the desire to reproduce. Her pleasure derives from her attempts to induct Grant into heterosexual reproduction. On another detour, this time disembarking from a failed electric-car tour, the guests trot off to examine a sick Triceratops. The dinosaur comes into view through Tim’s legs, eerily resembling a birthing shot and visually conjuring fantasies of male parthenogenesis. While following Grant down the path, Lex trips. When Grant helps her up, she slips her hand into his and holds on. Behind them Sattler brims with delight, ostensibly tickled by the idea that Grant is thrown into close contact with a child. But Lex is a quasi-child. In one of the few changes from Michael Crichton’s novel, the film casts Lex as older than her brother Tim. Here she is on the verge of pubescence. The older Ellie looks, not to a child, but to her younger version to catch her man. Earlier in the film, when the group was boarding the cars, Lex approaches Grant and announces, twirling her braid, “She said I should ride with you cuz it’d be good for you.” Unlike Grant’s aggressive response to his miniature Tim, Sattler courts and initiates her generational replacement.

Species Extinction and White Male Ontological Doubt

[36]   Jurassic Park, then, seems just another example of Teresa DeLauretis’ conception of oedipal narrative. DeLauretis argues that all stories are a question of his desire where women “must either consent or be seduced into consenting to femininity” (134). But Sattler’s gushy delight in launching the pubescent Lex into heterosexual seduction seems overplayed, and Lex’s quick understanding that she’s playing a role revels in performativity. By contrast, Tim’s identificatory doubling of Grant lacks self-consciousness. The behind-the-scenes detour suggests that the miming of femininity props heterosexuality.

[37]   Finally, though, Malcolm provides Grant with the assurances he needs. With Sattler up to her elbows in dinosaur stool, Malcolm queries Grant for the inside scoop. Malcolm suggests, “She’s tenacious.” Grant concurs, “You’ve no idea.” Although the sight makes the men uneasy, their tandem viewing of Ellie with her arms in the dino-droppings squelches the rivalry between them. This scene of male homosexual panic continues back in the car where, coupled together alone, the men bond by talking about parenthood, the topic Grant studiously avoids discussing with Sattler. Malcolm has three kids, loves them. When asked if he’s married, he wittily responds, “Occasionally. And I’m always on the look out for a future ex-Mrs. Malcolm.” Denied the present tense, “a future ex-Mrs. Malcolm” figures heterosexuality as a narrative of expulsion and exchange where the woman–the “ex”–represents the excess, the expendable, and the expropriated. The grammatical locution positions the male as placeholder for presence, but such insistence perhaps also suggests an undercurrent of ontological doubt.

[38]   This ontological doubt surfaces in Grant’s only other animosity. In addition to kids, he hates computers. He even links the two, lashing at a kid with a raptor claw in frustration with the dig’s new hi-tech equipment. When a computer monitor loses its image because he touches the screen, Grant interprets it as a reason to distrust technology rather than a comment on his own ignorance. As its underground probes replace his, the computer renders the old-school paleontologist useless. Grant, then, understands technology in the same way he initially views heterosexual reproduction, as a threat to the primacy of his presence.

[39]   With computers at least, Grant’s mastery of knowledge seems threatened by what Scott Bukatman calls “an era defined by an implosive and disembodying proliferation of electronic technologies” (“Tomorrowland” 62), technologies that, in this case, might eliminate the need for human “diggers” like Grant. Writing about Disney’s Tomorrowland, Bukatman follows Walter Benjamin to argue that shock effects function to provide “an illusion of mastery over, or at least accommodation to” technological forces (76). The “intensification of sensory experience” that characterizes Disney rides occasions “an inscription of the body, on the body. [. . . to] guarantee the continuing presence and relevance of the subject. You have a body, the rides announce, you exist” (77). Bukatman’s argument seems relevant to a film that reproduces the visceral thrills of an amusement park ride. But, who needs to be reminded that “he” has a body? In Bukatman’s scenario, the unspoken, invisible white male body, experiencing ontological doubt, absorbs all other bodies, ones previously relentlessly pluralized and differentiated, to foreground the anxiety of that body as the ubiquitous anxiety.

[40]   This anxiety, and its transposition onto other bodies, permeates Jurassic Park so that the film reveals the story of, to borrow from Richard Dyer, “the hysterical boundedness of the white [and I would add male] body” (63). In his analysis of theNight of the Living Dead trilogy, Dyer finds that at the heart of whiteness lies the fear of an inability to control one’s own body and the bodies of others whose exploitation is fundamental to capitalism (63). In Jurassic Park, being devoured locates the most primal threat to boundedness; the intact white male American body survives to reassert itself as the body in control. The narrative of eating also suggests the cannibalism of white capitalist culture, its feeding off of the labor and lives of its subjects (an issue MacCannell discusses in Empty Meeting Grounds). In the larger effort to foreground, save, and advance the white American nuclear family, some characters–the black gatekeeper, the African-American senior computer technician Ray Arnold, the Kenyan game warden Muldoon–are “wasted” by the dinosaurs or simply evaporate from the story, like the Asian-American Dr. Wu (B. D. Wong). Even the orientation cartoon screened during the automated tour inside the visitor center repeats this effacement. From the animated miners to the photographed scientists, the cartoon represents Jurassic Park’s workers as pink-white males. But their counterparts in the film are not Anglos. The film within the film becomes an (unconscious) reinscription of the erasure of the racialized behind-the-scenes laborers when it comes to touting productivity–an apparently exclusively Anglo male enterprise–in a front-region narrative. Even Hammond, who dies a nasty, slow death in the novel as retribution for his god-like aspirations, emerges unscathed in the film. Malcolm, who also dies in the novel, survives here, but he’s a father, an active producer of the kind that the film desperately wants to salvage. Such outcomes give new meaning to Dr. Wu’s proud declaration that in Jurassic Park, “population control is one of our security precautions.”

[41]   In situating its story in the “third world” and eliminating the subjects identified with that space in the service of white, American, middle-class, heterosexual, nuclear family reproduction, the movie takes us globally behind the scenes of Western capitalist production. As the underground for “first world” capitalism, the fictional Isla Nublar, located “120 miles west of Costa Rica,” reveals an off-scenes labor force. The setting locates an economic shift to a globalized production, foregrounding a healthy dose of American imperialism in its segregation of capitalistic production (“third world”) and consumption (“first world”). But the rampant consumption on Isla Nublar suggests a systemic crisis. When a velociraptor kills the gatekeeper, Hammond must convince his investors of the park’s safety by calling in experts Grant, Malcolm, and Sattler to conduct a “thorough on-site inspection.” Yet it’s not the workers’ welfare that prompts his actions. Rather, it’s the lawsuit brought by the deceased’s family, that is, the eruptive trespass of backstage operations into the front offices of “first world” investors.

[42]   Even though the figure of the consumer is lauded as a primary identity in U.S. social and economic orders, it is not synonymous with controlling the means of production (Doane 13). In relocating sites of production to non-U.S. places, the transition to a post-Fordist economy literally and symbolically depletes the U.S. of its geographical image as the unparalleled landscape of production and productivity. The film’s post-Fordist landscape defines “third world” spaces of capitalist production as the territory of new, illicit technologies (echoing the “lost island” cinematic genre), interlocking them as one menace. As an engineered species, the dinosaurs represent the outcome of a “disembodying proliferation of electronic technologies” (Bukatman “Tomorrowland” 62) whose greatest threat, ironically, is the return of a pre-industrial, “primitive” world. Their unrestrained presence symbolically invokes, in Anthony Vidler’s words, “a peculiarly contemporary sense of haunting: that provoked by the loss of traditional bodily and locational references, by the pervasive substitution of the simulated for the ‘real'” (10). The white male body must restore boundedness in this realm of simulation. While Bukatman suggests shocking the body into re-knowing itself as subject, the film advocates a different version of the “inscription of the body, on the body” to reassure the white male subject: cloning.

The Ideology of Productivity: Replicating the Same

[43]   When the guests arrive at Jurassic Park, Hammond looms large as the supreme progenitor because he has mastered cloning. Ostensibly about the cloning processes that produced the theme park’s “living biological attractions,” the orientation cartoon focuses on Hammond’s omnipresence, telling the park’s story through Hammond’s multiplied image, filling up the screen with his clones. Hammond and his celluloid selves associate the white male with a reproductive practice that seemingly satiates “our hunger for likeness” (Schwartz n.p.). As a reproductive and, in Hammond’s case, baldly capitalistic enterprise, cloning is “driven by an economic system, a social fabric, and sets of technologies which profit by making the similar seem remarkable” (Schwartz n.p.), specifically by making the reproduction of the similar seem inventive.

[44]   Indeed, cloning may be just a technologized form of what Michael Warner has termed “reprosexuality”: “a relation to self that finds its proper temporality and fulfillment in generational transmission (as the means of self-transcendence)” (9). This “interweaving of heterosexuality, biological reproduction, cultural reproduction, and personal identity” is also a reproductive practice of capitalism whereby “the premises of agrowth economy govern the sexual order” (Warner 9 emphasis added). Herein lies one of the film’s ambivalences. The possible space-time compression brought about by post-Fordist information and technologies threatens the boundaries of all bodies and potentially explodes the hierarchy that privileges the white male subject. In response, the film posits the nuclear family as a showcase for paternal production and, as such, the guarantor of Fordist space and time precisely because, as Warner’s reprosexuality suggests, it locates and reproduces an organizing narrative of generations and genealogies, one of evolution and extinction that is, finally, comforting. The post-Fordist setting, then, creates nostalgia for a fantasy/time when the family was spatially and otherwise intact. For instance, on the tour, when Gennaro asks Hammond if the lab workers on view are “autoerotica,” Hammond replies, “No, no, we have no animatronics here.” Besides humorously taking a shot at Disney’s pristine image, the slip suggests that there is no autoerotica/animatronics because self-fulfillment is defined solely through the pleasure of re/production, conducted by Hammond’s “real miracle workers,” the lab technicians who make babies.

[45]   But cloning tweaks the notion of reprosexuality because it bypasses “generational transmission” and disturbs genealogy by birthing others “who are at once our juniors, twins, cellmates, and coevals” (Schwartz 350). Cloning’s attraction is its ability to outdistance all other practices that make “the similar seem remarkable.” And this is attractive because making the similar seem remarkable is the trick of free enterprise. But cloning also perpetuates a system where “[c]reation and imitation, invention and repetition, may become as indistinct as knowing is from copying” (Schwartz 246). Eventually, invention folds in on itself. Although cloning might seem to reinsure the production of the white male body, its very multiplication causes a shattering of subjectivity. Among all those copies, where is the “I” to be found? The male body, even in infinite duplication, is at risk.

[46]   The problem leads to the film’s other renegade technology, hacking. Hacking allows any-body to be anonymous, adopt a number of subject positions, dissolve the hierarchical difference between white male and other bodies. Like cloning, hacking engenders a fear of infiltration. Hackers make anonymous hits on systems of social reproduction. Both cloning and hacking represent the film’s obsession with the vulnerability and possible extinction of the male body. While cloning effectively splinters the male body so that he is his own other, and thus, on some level, out of his control, hacking allows any-body to become invisible. Hacking represents a fantasy of hiding the self and inhabiting other selves in order to penetrate, literally and figuratively, sites of knowledge. As cloner, Hammond expects to be ur-Daddy, staying supreme despite proliferation; the hacker manipulates and controls those who think they achieve that status.

[47]   Besides the unscrupulous Nedry, Lex is the only hacker. In another change from the novel, Lex, not her brother, plays the renegade computer whiz, saving her surrogate family by hacking into the computer system to restore the phones and security system. As an amalgamation of innocence and knowledge (pubescent, flirt, vegetarian, naïf/initiate, hacker), Lex doesn’t fit into either of the two antithetical practices of female desire–Sattler’s monogamous reproduction or the dinosaurs’ consuming–represented in the film. Not yet sexually-active, she hasn’t acquired the devouring desire of her dinosaur “sisters,” but her contradictory characteristics, and her shared characteristic with Nedry, suggest a potential to be traitorous. Lex’s hacking saves the group, but it also mimics production with its mutating actions that ultimately exist to subvert and betray “the system.”

[48]   The behind-the-scenes scenarios show us that the family is both patient and cure, under attack and offensive strategy, natural and engineered. In the end, the film needs to decide what’s most important: should it privilege a way for the white male body to reproduce itself in a technologically-saturated society or sustain a loyalty to a narrative of genealogy and generation as reproductive practice? The two running narratives of reproduction, human and dinosaur, natural and engineered, supposedly represent a rivalry between nature and science. Writes Peter Biskind, “When all is said and done, Jurassic Park is supposed to leave you with a message already familiar from such horror classics asFrankenstein: don’t mess with God’s work” (67). For another critic, the movie’s message is that “science can overstep the bounds of nature’s rightful domain and will suffer for it” (Kauffmann 26). Understanding the issue as one of morality, Bukatman argues, “the narrative, of course, emphasizes the fundamental immorality of all this environmental simulation. [. . . Yet] we are, in effect, ordered to marvel at the marvelous, and to wonder at the power of a technology that can usurp nature” (“Bytes”15). But is the film really a story of nature versus science? Is one really natural and the other engineered?

[49]   By making all of the dinosaurs female, the science behind Hammond’s experiments eradicates sexual difference; this is deemed not natural. Aghast at the cloning and DNA manipulation, the chaotician Malcolm adopts the hardest anti-science stance. But his argument is cloaked in a romantic rhetoric where life, he predicts, always “finds a way.” Malcolm’s chaos theory proves to be right; the dinosaurs find a way to reproduce. Here the opposition between nature and science begins to unravel. Chaos theory is set up to oppose technology, countering it with a narrative of chance and lack of control. Yet this narrative, too, operates in the service of the master narrative of control. Ostensibly representing difference, chaos theory just produces more of the same, that is, compulsory heterosexuality. The film bifurcates epistemologies in the same way it does space. In the division of science and nature, as in Disney’s design, one just hides the modes of production of the other. Science appears, not as the antithesis of nature, but as a necessary intervention that functions to jump start endangered ideologies (think even of Ian’s display of chaos theory as a come-on to flirt with Ellie).

[50]   Castigated as a self-serving perpetuation of the same that is antithetical to “natural” reproduction, cloning becomes, when the cloned dinosaurs reproduce, just another avenue that leads to compulsory heterosexual reproduction. Technologies also insure the myth of compulsory heterosexuality even when its productions fail. According to Dr. Wu, the dinosaurs are engineered through denial of “an extra hormone given at the right developmental stage.” In short, technology succeeds through denying things. But this refusal doesn’t prompt the dinosaur DNA or gene structure to redirect or redefine itself. The gesture of denial only insures that what is disallowed is what will be desired. Technology as denial, then, makes the return of the similar appear remarkable. That the dinosaurs would find a way to spontaneously change sex and reproduce is deemed miraculous. This narrative guides our understanding of the human story: that Grant would spontaneously change his mind and reproduce repositions the nuclear family not only as intact, but truly wondrous when dad is (back) at the helm. By the time the credits roll, heterosexual reproduction has been lauded as both the “natural” and miraculous course of an evolved species.

[51]   The film’s defense against monstrous technology is a nostalgia for biology as the way of mastery over the body. In this age of biotechnology, biology epitomizes authenticity. The film goes behind the scenes in the theme park to show how dinosaur babies are made. And yet this narrative reveals that the dinosaur DNA has been engineered. So, too, then is biology? Biology becomes a site of contradiction in the film: it insures compulsory heterosexuality while simultaneously de-naturalizing its origins (the DNA has been implanted). In one of its ambivalent moments, this film that promotes a return to the course of “normative” reproductive heterosexuality belies the naturalness of its very production. The movie’s courting of Grant suggests that his desire for heterosexual familial reproduction is manufactured. The need for strategic planning belies the naturalness of the very desire the film wants to sell as innate. The trips behind the scenes offer a spatial parallel. In showing us the modes of production behind the miracles of extinct dinosaurs or special effects, they reveal secrets that authenticate the front regions’ phenomena. And yet, such disclosures simultaneously reveal those attractions as illusions, fabricated for the consumer.

[52]   Both Jurassic Park and Disney invest in the past and the future as attractions, situating reproduction as the crux of all else: knowledge, culture, pleasure, identity, etc. Sure enough, by the end of Jurassic Park, the family has reproduced itself with Ellie beaming at the sleeping triad of Alan, Lex, and Tim. But Drs. Grant and Sattler, finally, are foster parents. The kids’ “real,” that is, biological, parents are getting divorced. The original model for the parent-couple is an absent and failed genuine–just as Disney’s nuclear family always has been. Does the narrative, then, obliterate the very thing it’s trying to salvage? Does it rub our noses in our own disavowal? Add to this the real attraction ofJurassic Park‘s dinosaurs. In an interview, Spielberg revealed that, “I wouldn’t let anyone call them monsters or creatures. We called them animals, or dinosaurs, or by their names” (qtd. in Duncan 49). As the master of naming, he asserts his paternal/patriarchal/imperialist privilege. His command also functions as a gesture of domestication. He wants to make them the same as us, to naturalize them. But why, since the whole success of the movie depends upon their inconceivable difference? The attraction of dinosaurs is their mystery, not knowing how they became extinct, not categorizing them as either animal or ancestor. Jurassic Park might have a cynical undercurrent, a hacker narrative of its own that says it’s not true that you want what you say you want and so you pay us to help you pretend you do want it, so we’ll make horror stories out of your fantasies and vice versa.

[53]   Similarly, although it touts the wonders of production at every turn, the film also includes a self-conscious endorsement of consumerism, panning shots of the Jurassic Park store which displays the same “real” merchandise on sale to movie audiences. In this self-congratulatory moment, with its nod to the special effects of free enterprise, the film draws attention to its own duping of the viewer. And another form of duping comes from Stan Winston’s insistence that he doesn’t do special effects, maintaining that, “I create characters using puppetry, which is all about performance, performance, performance [. . .]. The dinosaurs we created for Jurassic Park are real” (qtd. in Kilday 20 emphasis added). Winston’s comment may suggest that the only authenticity is simulation, as theme parks seem to confirm. But his remark also insinuates that even narratives of simulation, far from challenging a tradition of authenticity, function in their service. It’s always still about authenticity. We want to believe in the real. Simulation is just the new mode of production to do so.

Acknowledgements: I am grateful to Susan Hardy Aiken, Mary Pat Brady, Judith Roof and Lynda Zwinger for their commentary on earlier drafts of this essay. I also thank Ann Kibbey and the two anonymous reviewers for their suggestions.


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