Dino Abstract

THE “EAT OR BE EATEN”MYTH IN DINOSAUR FILMS
Michael Delahoyde

Repeatedly ignoring the small matter of somesixty million years which irredeemably separated the two species,films depicting the lives of our cave-dwelling forebears or theadventures of intrepid modern explorers in uncharted territoryusually opt to pit humankind against dinosaurs in battles forsurvival. Since an inherent condition of this sub-genre of actionfilm is the stripping away of the trappings of developed civilization,dinosaur films allow basic anthropocentric assumptions to emergefreely and in their most stark forms. We see a paranoid speciesismread back into pop-cult pre-history which consistently takes theform of humankind not in harmony with, but in opposition to, anobjectified natural world. Oddly, the immediate antagonism, whichrests on the assumption that the animal kingdom poses an ever-presentthreat, frequently becomes a battle for supremacy in carnivorousterms. Dinosaurs, even the vegetarian kinds in some cases, areautomatically cast in the role of the predatory aggressor voraciouslyhungry for humans. Occasionally the dinosaur can be killed andserve as food for the humans instead. Thus, survival comes tomean domination, and that expressed in a culinary mode.These films depict culture’s anthropocentric contortion of the”survival of the fittest” principle by focusing obsessivelyon who succeeds in killing and eating whom. Persecute or perishis the code of the cave. The dinosaur films arrogantly striveto validate humankind as a categorically different and superiorkind of creature deservedly destined to outlive the other species.