PBS Idea Channel: A Textual Reading of Capitalism in Jurassic Park
In my ongoing effort to add to the discussions generated by PBS Idea Channel through various forms of critique and analysis, I was happy to find the channel’s latest video another good piece of work. The video discussing Jurassic Park works as an analysis of the film because it is a narrow, specific analysis of a single text. As I’ve mentioned before, some of their earlier videos deal with broad applications of theory and subject, leading to assessments that can end up being overgeneralizations. Not so with this video, as it is a focused textual reading of the film. I have little to add, save for one important distinction dealing with the specifics of textual readings.
The video mentions the constructed nature of the film as reflective of the constructed nature of the system of capitalism, in that the production of the film Jurassic Park mirrors the creation of the tourist site “Jurassic Park” in the narrative. The video highlights behind the scenes footage of people in raptor suits and other technical stunts as an example of the constructed nature of the film, producing an artificial image of dinosaurs for consumption.
I have difficulty accepting this part of the critique, because behind the scenes information lies outside the text itself. Furthermore, any film could be analyzed as an example of the constructed nature of art as facsimile of life. Though there may be some resonances in the film’s capitalist-critique-coded narrative, the behind the scenes work bears no relevance in the film as a structured narrative piece. If behind the scenes special effects work played during the film’s credits for example, that would be a different matter, as that would be an intentional pulling-of-the-curtain to reveal to the artifice and constructed nature of the film. But as it stands, such footage is a completely separate element, and does not fit into a textual reading of Jurassic Park, though may be of use with media-centered criticism or apparatus theory.
One more thing of note. A recent panel video done by one of my favorite internet video critics Jesuotaku gives advice on starting your own web show, and I bring it up here because one of the points I find applied in the production of PBS Ideal Channel. Jesuotaku notes that if you are using youtube as a host for your videos, it’s best to have them be ten minutes or less, because people want to quickly keep consuming content. I suspect the creators of PBS Ideal Channel have this idea to some extent in mind. While the videos are filled with a lot of content, the show host, Mike Rugnetta, speaks a mile a minute, with the videos never exceeding ten minutes in length. The script is also very concise in its argumentation, another bonus. This helps illustrate that the production value of the videos are always top notch, and I commend their work for doing what it intends to do: stimulate discussion on culture.