How Jurassic Park forever changed my college career

How Jurassic Park forever changed my college career

In my first semester as an English major, I took a class called, “Critical Reading & Writing,” which explores various forms of literary criticism and applies them to texts (the granola literary term for “any object that can be ‘read,’ whether this object is a work of literature, a street sign, an arrangement of buildings on a city block, or styles of clothing.”) For example, we looked at William Faulkner’s Light in August from a psychoanalytical perspective, and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale from a feminist perspective. We also applied Marxist and Postmodern critiques to several other texts–one of them being Tim O’Brien’s masterpiece In the Lake of the Woods.

All of this culminated in each of us performing “readings” on non-literary texts, then presenting our findings to the class. This counted as a major portion of our grade, so the pressure was on; we had to do something great.

One girl did a psychoanalytical reading of The Beatles’ “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”; another, a psychoanalytical reading of Facebook. One guy analyzed the late (still hurts to say) Robin Williams’ Toys through the lens of postmodernism; and then there was me, who had no earthly clue what he was going to talk about. In fact, the day of the presentation, I was about to mail it in, to email my professor and beg for an extension because I couldn’t find a topic, when I began listening to the Jurassic Park soundtrack to calm me down. This caused me to think about the movie, and the dinosaurs; chaos theory and the act of discovery being “the rape of the natural world.” And then it hit me: Jurassic Park, at it’s core, is a great Marxist text. There’s capitalists (the bourgeoisie) and a created, patented workforce (the proletariat). I immediately began hammering away at my keyboard, and produced the following (often heavy-handed) outline, which was presented on April 23, 2007.

Long story short, I got an A, and finally found my place on campus. (I’d changed my major four times before this.)


Chris Pilny

Critical Reading and Writing

Dr. Trout

23 April 2007



Debate Capitalist v. Chaotician 34:20 Chapter 7 (2:35) almost 4 minutes

Explanation of Chaos Theory 46:30 Chapter 9 (6:04) 2 minutes

The Illusion of Control 1:25:45 Chapter 13 (5:45) 2 minutes


I. Animals have human characteristics

  1. Dinosaurs have different personalities. Raptors are cunning and intelligent and later noticed to be class aware and rebellious. They test fences and hunt in “coordinated attack paterns.” Other dinosaurs are not that intelligent. Others are also more tame.

II. Dinosaurs Represent Class

  1. The dinosaurs are a class of beings created by capital in order to serve capital.
  2. They have genetically engineered DNA sequences which are altered just enough to patent them, therefore making them private property.
  3. They are held in captivity where they perform their labor of acting out their dinosaure identities for wealthy tourists.
  4. They are further engineered to be unable to reproduce and survive without care from the workers on the island.
  5. Essentially, the dinosaurs are a class designed to be prisoners to the humans.


III. Identity Politics

  1. Each dinosaur is given an identity (as stated before) and contained space in which it is to live and be itself.
  2. Therefore, in Marxist terms, the island is a representation of Global Capitalism. It was engineered by scientists and technicians in the service of capital.
  3. Each area the dinosaurs live in is policed and exploited by humans. There are motes, electric fencing, and even motion-sensor tracking systems.


Now that this world is set up, how is it that the Dinosaurs (proletariat) rise up against the Capitalists? We find this answer in the Chaos Theory and Dialectical Materialism.

IV. Chaos Theory

  1. It was developed in response to problems like predicting the weather, which can only be done a few days in advance. Otherwise, the conditions are too unstable and complex. (Play Clip of Malcolm Explaining.)
  2. If the dinosaurs are the global pro and Jurassic park is global capitalism, then Chaos theory can represent Dialectical Materialism (which is Marxists approach to history, see below). They are both interested in transitional shifts: How does a system suddenly and even violently shift from a relatively stable state to another?
  3. Examine end of Feudalism to begin Capitalism. End Feudalism, begin Scientific Era.
  4. What it leads to is an end in the Scientific Era and Capitalism. Science is destroying itself because as it gains power it proves incapable of handling the power. Chaos theory speaks to how we believe we know the outcome of something and can control, but it is false. (Play Clip of Capitalist v. Chaotician then The Illusion of Control) please note the binary oppostion of the Capitalist and the Chaotician and how one wears all-white and the other all-black.
  5. Capitalism follows the same fate. The means of production will outweigh the social relations of production. Social forces will not be able to handle the production forces and then Socialism is formed.

V. What results in the movie?

  1. Through a sequence of events that are unplanned (Nedry, Storm, Sex Mutation) everything that was thought to be safe is not. Everything that can go wrong does go wrong. Once the dinosaurs break free of their confinements, they are empowered. The humans are forced to hide until they can escape.

A new social hierarchy seems to form as the T-Rex devours the Raptors in the end to claim his throne. Figuratively, Global Capitalism may be gone, but like death, it is uncertain what socialism will look like until we actually experience it.

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