(This is a new feature I thought I’d start where I blog about something “geeky” that’s been a formative influence on my life. I’m also planning to bring guests in to write about their geeky favorites too. Won’t that be fun? See last week’s post about Ghostbusters from my friend Sam.)
When I was a kid (about nine or so) Jurassic Park was released in movie theaters, and all the boys at my elementary school went nuts. And I, the lone girl, became one of the most rabid dinosaur freaks of them all.
I actually read Jurassic Park the book first before I saw the movie. Unfortunately, my mom thought the film was too violent/intense for me to see when it was first released. (Yet she took me to see the R-rated Speed at around the same time. SMH, Mom.)
A few months later, though, the movie had a special one-day re-release, and my mom finally, finally took me to see the movie that had utterly claimed my heart and imagination. I was deeply steeped in dinosaurs at that point, obsessed with them. And, when I sat in that theater and watched the brachiosaurs walk out of the trees for the first time, I actually cried. (I cried again in the theater last year when the film was re-released and I took my nephew to see it. Some things never change.)
From the book to the movie to the toys I had everything Jurassic Park related. I even had Jurassic Park pogs. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was one of my earliest feminist battles. From the time in Toys R Us where a little boy indignantly informed me that I could not buy the Jurassic Park land cruiser because that was a “boy toy”, to having to prove my Dinosaur Credentials over and over again with the boys at my school–boys kept trying to take dinosaurs away from me, to deny that I as a girl had any right to enjoy them. And to that bit of creeping patriarchy my nine year old self firmly said, “Hell no.” (Good job, 9yo Self!)
For the next three years or so I was certain I would become a paleontologist when I grew up. That ambition eroded eventually, but my love of dinosaurs, as fostered by Jurassic Park, remained. And it would resurface on occasion, like when I fight with my 11yo nephew about whether brontosaurus existed. (Brontosaurus is not a real dinosaur species! Do not spread this ignorance!!!)
But it was fairly recently when I got the idea for my first screenplay that I dove back headfirst into one of my first geeky obsessions. While doing research for the story, I reconnected with some old favorite dinosaurs like Carnotaurus and discovered some new ones like Hesperonychus and Therizonosaurus.
And, most precious of all, I also re-discovered the pure joy and wonder I felt for these creatures as a girl, especially when I went to the LA Natural History museum and saw some of my old favorites for the first time “in the flesh.” (In the without flesh maybe? O_o)
Thanks to Jurassic Park, I’ve been obsessed with dinosaurs for over twenty years now. I can truly say I don’t know quite who I’d be if I’d never become a dinosaur geek.