Thursday, 30 July 2015

Impertinent Perception #1: When Cinema Gets Self-Aware

In Jurassic World there's a scene where resident moustache Lowery, played by Jake Johnson, is wearing an official Jurassic Park merchandised t shirt. In the films continuity the park which that shirt is glorifying marks the location in which no less than four people were killed due to a technical mishap so naturally, people view his attire as being slightly insensitive. Lowery is momentarily fazed but generally maintains that, while he loves his job at Jurassic World, that original park was like, totes legit bro.

His other shirt is pink and says "I <3 Rexy, Rawr"

It's clear that Lowery is a mouthpiece for fans of the 1993 original who would've approached this new film with a slight degree of skepticism. This got me thinking more about the movie in general. Here you have a park that, although it has a well regarded foundation, is forced to prove its worth in the modern day by introducing the new attraction of the Indominus Rex. The park is unable to garner the same buzz that it once did and visitors, like Nick Robinson's Zach, are bored. The audience in the park Jurassic World is a commentary on the audience of the film Jurassic World. In the age of superheroes, young adult novels and minions, it gets increasingly difficult for a film franchise to get a size-able share of the market unless they do something that shows they have the stones to stay in the game. I can't help but feel as though the fictional discussions that took place in the film in creating the Indominus Rex mirrored the discussion by the filmmakers in writing the script around that very creation.

This isn't the first time it's happened in a film mind you, in fact, it's not even the first time Jurassic Park franchise has done it. In 1993 Jurassic Park was a film about how a revolutionary scientist took an established technology and expanded it to create real life dinosaurs. Suddenly museums, paleontologists and animatronic theme park directors would have to reconsider their career choices in the wake of this new discovery. Swap out revolutionary scientist for revolutionary director, real life dinosaurs to real looking dinosaurs and you have the exact same idea of brand new technology that all but changed the industry it was in. Creating a visual effect that looks as real life as any zoo animal means that the reliance on stop motion animation and puppetry would never be as it was.

Pictured above: The actual death of animatronic dinosaurs in the 'Jurassic' franchise

And there are countless examples of this phenomenon in cinema today. The Mission Impossible films every time, begin with the members of the IMF being stripped of the sufficient means to do their job and forced to improvise, so that they can prove themselves as worthy of their old title. In reality, every Mission Impossible film has suffered an uphill battle to win the audience's approval. For the first one it was, "It won't live up to the TV show", the second it was, "It won't live up to the first movie", the third, "It's gonna be just as bad as the second one", the fourth, "Really? A fourth?" and finally with the most recent one it was, "The director of the fourth one isn't back, this won't hold up". You can guarantee 'The Force Awakens' is going include some form of self-awareness based on it's fall from grace in cinema.

It's even present on the side of television. 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D' starts out with cast reacting to the sudden resurrection of Phil Coulson and having to be isolated from the rest of the larger organisation with a smaller team with no actual discernible purpose. The cast mirrors the audience coming off of Avengers dealing with a character being reintroduced into the narrative on a show that had no great sense of direction. And sure, that show is heavily tied to the film audience, but again in television, there was BBC's Sherlock which began it's third season showing rabid fans of the Baker Street detective formulating any feasible explanation for his faked death, some of which I guarantee you were pulled directly from searching real life internet forums (with safe search on of course) discussing that very idea.

Fanfiction: Not even once. 

So what does all this mean? Well, nothing really, this is an impertinent perception. But I suppose if any meaning was to be gleaned from all this is that, entertainment does not exist in a vacuum. It is formed based on a multitude of factors, ranging from commercial motivation to the artists predilection, but at the core of it, is the audience. Entertainment is there, to entertain. The best way to entertain is to provide something the audience will be entertained by. Sometimes you base it off of changes in the society, creating more roles for women and members of the LGBTQI2A community, but working off of the art's own existence and it's established relationship with it's audience will always be a narrative technique for entertainment with a large enough audience. Tapping into those familiar ideas will always resonate, creating stories that we have an intricate connection to before we even know it.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out my podcast 'Take 4' going up this and every Sunday. If you have any questions you want answered on the show send them to The next episode to be recorded will be on the Fantastic Four film franchise, and a new episode on movies based on television will be going up this Sunday 02/08/15


Sabrina Medwinter said...

Didn't even notice that commentary until you pointed it out.

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