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Dinotopia



     Against my better judgement, for the sake of younger readers of the DML (and those controlling  the reins of accessibility to this forum who, often, silence critiques), I shall refrain from sharing my profound infuriation with this latest mcdonaldization of scinemadventure...with a "director" claiming he is the first to have a "story" vs. Michael Crichton. Indeed. I doubt that this "miniseries" or the DML or many other post-1990 excursions (including James Gurney) would exist without Mr Crichton, even the 1993 film which gutted the integrity and ingenuity of his novel's thematic cladistics.  James Gurney is a fine artist, a good man of integrity  who genuinely loves sharing his enthusiasm for dinosaurs with others...my difficulty is that his novels of phantasy and dreams, regardless of the honesty and colourful illustrations, are becoming the vehicles for the exploitation emanating fr! ! ! om "fast food nationalism"... i.e., beginning with the anti-intellectual nonsense of Amblin's E.T.,  when merchandising exploded forth to entice and lie (as in 1993, the idea being to spend money on an object, a "toy", is to someone link one to the film's "experience"), the televisioning  of Dinotopia is a strange admixture of Rider Haggard's colonialism and, let us be honest, the need for the "media" (that great cacaphony of monosyllabic tribal drums) to reduce reality to one or two emotional hieroglyphs. This television product/project is not meant to couple the world of dinosaurs with genuine knowledge seeking, but is meant to sell commercial time for other products ("I think I'll buy you because you supported that cute Kiddie show about dinosaurs").
      I share Luis Rey's distaste...and yet, I confess, I like Mr Gurney's artistic conjurations and their honesty, and attempt to instill in the young a love of science (vs. the posturing and bombast over irrelevant minutia from some on the DML who could endure a colonic shower). Somehow, there must be a place among us in the dinosaur world for Mr Gurney's phantasies, for those of Arthur Conan Doyle and Michael Crichton; after all, "dinosaurology" is a large canopy.  But, I ask: is there a place at our intellectual table for what we are seeing unfolding on television? Isn't this, in essence, L. Frank Baumism with cute dinosaurs instead of Dorothy and Toto?  It is, to be sure, not organismal paleobiology and rigorous phylogenetic systematics. Isn't it time that all of us involved in studying dinosaurs collectively create an ethical PhyloCode? Should not there be, for example, a full  financial accounting from the Jurassi! ! ! c Park Foundation? From 1993 to 2001, Horrorwood made literally close to a half-billion dollars from Isla Nublar/Sorna-ism...how much of the profits were given back to the intellectual community studying dinosaurs? I am not speaking of the Museum of the Rockies, but of other, equally deserving organisations (and individuals) who have yet to receive badly needed funds to make it possible for expeditionary sorties to locate, excavate, study, describe dinosaurs, for artists to create, for writers to dream.  There is no National Endowment for the Dinosaur Arts...why not? Does anyone actually believe scholarship is alive-and-well in the world because of a Jurassic Park Foundation? As it stands in 2002, the Victorian ideation of gradualism is in the air, and scholars struggle inch-by-inch (or cm by cm, if you prefer) to advance scientific knowledge. Our efforts are not being perpetrated and strengthened by profiteers.