I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll do it again. I may not have said it in quite this strong of a fashion, but given the recent performance of Jurassic World at the box office, it is making several points that need some understanding. The greatest crises facing our American civilization is not global warming, inner city gun shootings, or even a tanking economy, it’s our inability to make new and original art.
In Jurassic World the director is clearly similar to me. I’d probably get along wonderfully with Colin Trevorrow over a beer and nachos just because it’s obvious he loves the original film at least as much as I do. There were a lot of scenes in Jurassic World paying homage to Jurassic Park the way a person who truly loves something would do. I saw the same type of thing during last year’s Godzilla—specifically the scene where the classic movie monster was tearing its way through the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. It was nearly a scene for scene duplication in sound to the original Jurassic Park when the T-Rex first appeared. These directors today were obviously fans of the original Jurassic Park, and they want to make movies representing that love. There’s nothing wrong with that, but what is troubling is that there was once a day when Jurassic Park, and all these other movies from the past were original—and our culture is not presently making original films any longer. Now that Jurassic World is having so much success, studios will be very hesitant to attempt funding new projects because given the cost of movies these days to make, the box office expectations are just too high to justify the expense on anything less than a movie property that is not deeply imbedded in the consciousness of movie fans percolating for twenty or more years. Jurassic World is good on its own and might even do similar numbers as the original did 22 years ago by itself. Yet the massive drive to see the film, and huge oversea numbers are attributed to the recognition the film has historically in the hearts and minds of millions for two decades now. So there is a lot of pent-up desire to see this new film. Studios now will be so focused on resurrecting old properties that they will be extremely hesitant to do anything new—which is taking our culture to the edge of disaster.
When a culture is no longer making new art, it is losing its ability to think—and that is where American culture is headed. The public education system has failed to ignite in several generations a sense of wonder, televisions have made thinking a lazy exercise, literature is laughed at by younger people, and the music of our day seems only concerned with political motivations than anything of the human experience. Our society is making more Colin Trevorrow types who copy those from the past and less Steven Spielbergs who made the original and that is dangerous.
It’s not just in film that we are seeing this—but in the movie industry there are behavioral indexes that are easy to track. Likely we will see this same behavior in patent filings and new job creation in the coming years. It probably shows up already if there were proper ways to collect that data—but there really isn’t. The effects will be seen none-the-less in a less creative culture. Creativity is not just about making dinosaurs in a motion picture but in solving little problems that create new kinds of cars, new concepts in philosophy, politics, law and order—in just about every field where thought turns to action to advance civilization.
From experience, on the business side of things I can safely say that from one end of this country in the United States to the other are brain-dead slugs, which is unique to our time. When you pick up the phone to call someone in Seattle, New York, Chicago, or Atlanta—and everywhere in between, a person just going through the motions of life answers. Their primary objectives are to eat, reproduce, and pursue further reiterations of endorphin utilization—pursing pleasure over thought in nearly every circumstance. It wasn’t like that even when the first Jurassic Park came out two decades ago. This brain-dead society is a fairly new phenomenon, and the entertainment industry is the first to reveal its ugly realization. I would also dare to say that the reason there is so much hunger for Jurassic World is due to this obvious vacancy of thought. Suddenly there is a movie about things that has heroics, hope, horror, and possibility in it that people can see and touch—and they like it. Those are traits in our art that is becoming less obvious by the day, which of course leads to artistic and intellectual disaster for a society falling from its precipice.
A further perpetuation of that thoughtless manifest is in the so-called intellectual culture who thinks that Jurassic World is low brow and that films like Dope are proper representatives of a culture—and teach such nonsense to film students and college literature courses. They consider a Broadway play of Kinky Boots to have more artistic appeal than say Terminator Genesis—yet the masses of American culture do not find such progressive art appealing—they can’t relate to it. So they tune out and turn off—and remain that way sometimes for their entire lives. It’s quite a crisis.
After 2020 – 2021 I see a major drop off within the film industry. The movies we make as a culture will fall in on itself—and even the retreads will wear away in their appeal. New concepts will have to take their place and I don’t have faith that we have a culture any longer that can produce anything new. We should be in a period of incredible creativity with the modern tools available. But they are being wasted on pornography and gossip—not on innovation. That is when you know you are in trouble, and as much as I love the box office numbers of Jurassic World—they speak most obviously of the desperate hunger people have for that kind of entertainment that they aren’t getting from any other source—which is sad. A lot of what we take for granted today will be treasured greatly tomorrow—and that is obvious most distinctly in American art. As hopeful as movie studios are today in staying relevant—hard times are ahead for them—and the culture in general who consumes the product of Hollywood. That is the disaster I think is behind the massive success of Jurassic World.