Guest Column

Jurassic World is a metaphor of our time

2015-07-08 14:23

Koos Kombuis

As a parent of two growing children, I'm not always sure to what extent it is expected of me to participate with them in their activities. When is daddy's presence required, and when is daddy's presence seen as "uncool"?

I am grateful for one thing, though. They are now at last old enough to go to the movies by themselves. I no longer have to suffer through hours of Cars or Shrek III - not to mention that dreadful film about meatballs raining down on earth! – with a cardboard container of uneaten popcorn on my lap.

These days, I simply drop them at the entrance to the mall, stuff some money into their hands, and say "Meet you at the ice cream parlour at five!"

There are exceptions, unfortunately. My son did not want to watch Jurassic World by himself. I had watched all the previous Jurassic movies with him. It had become a sort of entrenched family tradition that had to be respected for the sake of continuity.  

So it came to pass that, armed with mineral water and a small box of chocolates – I had read somewhere that they had now decided chocolates are healthy after all! – and accompanied by my son and three of his 14-year-old buddies, 3-D glasses perched on the tips of our noses, I found myself once more face to face with the terrifying world of man-made live dinosaurs. 

And let me come right out and admit it: yes, the movie had me scared shitless.

That was probably to be expected. The previous movies in the series also had me scared shitless. There was an unexpected bonus, however.

Unlike with the older Jurassic scripts, this time I actually found myself being intellectually stimulated as well.

I had not been expecting this. After all, I had read the reviews. I was aware of the fact that the guys in Hollywood had completely ignored all the latest dinosaur research. They were seemingly oblivious of the fact that dinosaurs had been, in fact, more birds than reptiles.

But, let's be honest: would these gigantic brutes with their beady eyes and sharp claws be really all that terrifying if they had been covered by plumes of colourful feathers?

Who the hell can take a bunch of overgrown peacocks seriously? I could see why the producers of this blockbuster had opted to stick with the option of naked, scale-covered skin.

They even provided some sort of rationale for this. Supposedly, the dinosaurs of Jurassic World were actually designed by the military, who had a secret agenda all of their own.

The genetically dinosaurs were to be more than simply tourist attractions; they were trainee soldiers for the next big war.

All of a sudden, the title made sense to me. The metaphor literally exploded in my head. I was hooked! This was science fiction at its best!

I watched, transfixed, as thousands of typical American nuclear families, some with their takeaway milkshakes still in their hands, desperately tried to flee from charging prehistoric monsters. In my mind's eye, I relived the newsflashes of the last few years

Japan halfway flooded by a massive tsunami, then threatened by a nuclear power plant leaking radioactivity. Ebola in Africa and MERS in Korea. Missiles flying back and forth between Israel and Gaza. Heat waves, earthquakes, floods, civil wars, people fleeing from one continent to another, famine, senseless violence, religious fanaticism, political chaos and brutal mass beheadings.

And, to top it all, the Greek tragedy of the Euro. Yes, Greece, known as the cradle of Western thought, the very beginning of all of our scientific enquiry, all our philosophy and our mathematics, inexplicably falling over the edge of despair. As if to say: we started all of this, we’re going to end it. The symbolism is just too much to bear…

It's as if, the more we modern Homo Sapiens try to hold the monsters of our own subconscious minds in check, the more we are overcome by the chaos coming from inside. It’s as if somebody had left the gates of our reptilian brains open, and now the beasties are storming through, in full flee-or-fight response, tearing and clawing away at the thin layer of civilisation and rationality

Cute feather-covered thingies? Overgrown lizards? Something to marvel at while you munch your popcorn? No, suddenly it's much more.

Intentionally or not, and with all its flaws and incorrect science, all its melodrama and cheap tricks, Jurassic World seems to be a metaphor of our time, a mirror in which we can see ourselves, and see what is happening to us and to our planet right now.

I left the theatre with trembling knees, and accompanied the children into the mall, thankful for the brightly lit storefronts, the semblance of normality. As if on cue, however, the entire mall was, at that exact moment, plunged into darkness. Load shedding.

Of course, the generators kicked in soon enough, and most of the lights were restored.

Yet as we walked past darkened shop windows through the corridors of modern capitalism, I could not shake the feeling of dread, the sense of foreboding, a premonition of doom. And I thought of the famous lines by the poet Yeats:

"And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?"


News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.


SHARE: publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.