Jurassic World may be heating up the box office. The movie is breaking records as it already closes in on $1 billion. That hasn’t stopped both fans and the media from dubbing the movie as “sexist.” Many have accused director Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World of not knowing what to do with his female lead character.
Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire Dearing is the lead woman in this film. She’s seen as a hard-headed and hard-working corporate head and manager of the Jurassic World dinosaur park. Even though she’s in charge of the multi-billion dollar company, she’s still completely clueless on how to deal with actual dinosaurs and hybrid versions.
As Marlowe Stern for The Daily Beast wrote, Jurassic World is “about a woman’s ‘evolution’ from an icy-cold, selfish corporate shill into a consider wife and mother.”
What are the film’s other “sexist” problems? Not only is Claire is seen as an “icy cold” businesswoman, she’s also seen as someone who’s afraid to have children, let alone talk to them. Her sister, Karen (Judy Greer) tells Claire that she will “settle down” and understand what it’s like to raise children. In Jurassic World, Claire is also seen as a “control freak” who needs a man to “tame” her and to settle down.
When the trailer for Jurassic World was released, director Joss Whedon noted that the dialogue between Claire and Chris Pratt’s Owen Grady was “70s era sexiest.” When Trevorrow was asked about Whedon’s comments, he said that he was trying to channel Claire’s cluelessness.
“All I could feel was, ‘Look, yes, it’s designed to be this way.’ I don’t feel that we need to surrender a woman’s femininity in order for her to be a badass action hero. That was something I was interested in. I feel like I’ve seen a lot of women who are made to look very masculine and tough — and that’s awesome too. But this felt like someplace I could go that might actually be new in how retro it is. So we embraced it.”
Howard also defended her character in Jurassic World. She blamed the movie’s marketing for making it look like Dearing gets saved by Grady and falls in love at the end. Howard insists that there’s more to Jurassic World than what meets the eye.
“[Whedon is] a hero, he’s an amazing guy and a champion for women in this industry. Marketing for a film is tricky because you release stuff without context … Of course there was a part of me being such a fan of him that was like, ‘Nooooo!’ Especially because when you see the movie it’s not at all like that, but we make movies and it’s out there for public opinion and I hope he likes the movie!”
Not everyone in love with the idea though. Before and after Jurassic World’s release, fans, most of those feminists, slammed the film as “sexist.” After Dearing narrowly escapes dinosaurs and dangerous life situations, she changes her tune about marriage and having kids. She also falls in love with Owen Grady, as many fans assumed she would. Most didn’t even like the fact that the movie had a romantic storyline.
There were also complaints about Claire’s wardrobe in the film. She was seen wearing a prim and proper white blouse and pencil skirt for much of the movie. When Claire “got down to business,” she ripped open her blouse and revealed an off-color tank top. Some fans didn’t even like that Claire ran in high heels for most of Jurassic World.
But some are seeing Claire Dearing as some kind of “feminist hero.” According to Bustle contributor Jefferson Grubbs, she was staying true to her character as she helped Grady battle a genetically modified hybrid dinosaur and rescue her nephews in the process. According to Grubbs, it’s sexist for people to think that a woman has to change her femininity in order to be seen as “bad a**” or tough.
“To me, having Claire keep her heels was a refreshing change. Few things symbolize femininity as perfectly as high-heeled shoes — so the fact that Claire kept them on isn’t sexist, it’s extremely important to her development. Other characters always wanted Claire to change, to become either more or less feminine. But at the end of the day, she didn’t have to change. She already had everything it took to survive… and she didn’t have to discard her femininity to find it.”
Femininity is still a huge social construct, as Stern explains. One’s “femininity,” doesn’t have to be removed for a woman to be seen as a strong character. It also shouldn’t doesn’t have to mean she’s choosing marriage and motherhood over a career.
That hasn’t stopped some from believe that Claire Dearing’s is this year’s new feminist role model. Some fans have taken to Twitter to applaud Bryce’s character.
Let’s set the record straight, folks: JURASSIC WORLD’s Claire Dearing IS a feminist character. My new editoral: http://t.co/nrVsmk86B7
— Nathanael Hood (@NateHood257) June 16, 2015
— Luna Luna Magazine (@LunaLunaMag) June 20, 2015
— Jefferson Grubbs (@MrScreenAddict) June 19, 2015
I wish people would shut up about the heel debate and just appreciate Claire Dearing for the beautiful, strong, bada** woman that she is.
— jojen (@sansaery) June 18, 2015
What are your thoughts on Jurassic World? Do you think it showed hints of sexism? Or, do you think that Claire Dearing is a feminist icon in her own right? Share your thoughts below in the comments section.
[Image: Universal Pictures]