Introducing Chris Pratt’s Owen: Masculinity in Jurassic World
To start off, most of you people are going to think that this article is “sexist.” To be honest, I’m not sure what that word means anymore but since I don’t want to disappoint anyone, I’m going to do my damnedest to live up to it.
Section 1, the opening argument: female leads must wear heels
Women and men value different things in the opposite sex. Men primarily value looks. That is why the female lead in Jurassic World looks like this
and wears high heels the entire movie (seriously). True, we men also care about personalities and that’s why throughout the movie Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire displays a fetching combination of sass, submissiveness, motherly instincts, and the ability to occasionally cry. Men like all that. It’s true. You can’t change biology and there’s something attractive about it on a primal level. Sorry, ladies. It ain’t never gonna change.
Don’t misunderstand me – Ms. Howard did a very fine job with the material but her character is far from the ideal woman, if such a concept even exists. The reason I’m going into a little depth about her character here is because when I complain about Chris Pratt’s character, people will inevitably counter with something along the lines of, “Shut up about Chris Pratt. You say he’s superficial but Bryce Howard is superficial in all the same ways you criticize Chris. You’re so stupid.” No, idiots, the two characters are not the same. Chris Pratt is the lead character and is being held up as the ideal man by many moviegoers and implicitly by the film itself. Ms. Howard is the token female. A leading role, yes. But she is not the hero of the film. Figure it out.
Section 2: Chicks are turned on by how manly a man seems
Now we can get to the main point of this article. In case you missed it, women, quite differently than men, are more attracted to the overall impression they get from a man as opposed to simply his looks. For men, if a woman has longer legs, a more symmetrical face, bigger boobs, yadda yadda yadda, the majority of them will find her more attractive. Looks have an effect for women too, but on average, it will not be quite as cut and dried as with men. If you doubt this, I refer you to the countless books that have been written on the subject and will, once again, insult your intelligence – moron.
Therefore, in Jurassic World, Chris Pratt’s character has been carefully manipulated to convey the impression of masculinity, or “manliness,” in order to make him appeal to the largest number of women possible. I single out women because men are impervious to this. Not because we are smarter (we are) but because we are just here to see the cool dinosaurs and the big guns and the sexy redhead and thus do not pay attention to how manly Chris Pratt is.
The problem is Jurassic World creates this manly character of Chris Pratt’s without giving the character any of the substance that a real person would have. Rather, the film relies on visuals and turns of phrase to trick the audience’s mind into associating his character with being manly. The writers don’t really create a character. They create a walking movie poster using descriptions ripped out of their preteen daughters’ diaries. What I’m saying is that if you met this person in real life, your “bullshit radar” would be flipping the hell out and you would see this guy for what he is: a fraud. It’s like meeting the guy at the bar who’s not actually a tough guy, but still looks the part. Women with fully developed brains see through this in real life (unless he’s totally hot cuz then whocares amirite lolz #yolo).
But in the case of this movie, the millions of women who find his character attractive are being bamboozled by writers, directors, a wardrobe and makeup department, marketing divisions, and countless magazine editors, interviewers, photographers, and bloggers. Sure, they’ve done the same thing with other characters but since those other characters aren’t the lead in the largest opening of all time, they don’t draw my ire. Terrifying isn’t it? The ire?
Let’s do some case studies, mkay?
Section 3: The bungalow scene
When Ms. Howard first meets up with Chris Pratt in the film, he is working on a motorcycle out front of his “bungalow.”
What he is doing living in a bungalow when there are, without a doubt, countless apartment complexes available to island staff I couldn’t tell you. Where did he get it? Did he build it himself? Who authorized the use of the land? How long has he been on that freaking island? Is he a mountain man of some kind? If so, he certainly finds time to go into town to get nicely tailored jeans, clean shirts, and stylin’ hair. Implication: manly men build their own stuff with their own bare hands.
My problems with this scene are extensive, thorough, and dull. Here’s another: Why is he working on a Triumph? That’s one of the last bikes they would have on that island (don’t bother arguing with me, bikers – I don’t care). It’s not rugged enough for the type of all-terrain riding he would need to do on a largely undeveloped island. And Triumphs don’t exactly have a reputation for being low-maintenance or easy to work on which, again, would make them a poor choice for a theme park looking to purchase large quantities of motorcycles for an island operation. Any of these other options would have done just fine. Of course, they don’t give off quite as much of a manly vibe.
Plus, with an operation that size, there’s an army of maintenance workers who work on all the vehicles owned by the theme park and would not leave those jobs to dinosaur trainers from the Navy. Chris Pratt needs a motorcycle to work on, though, and it must have a vintage appearance. Notice he does not use a stool. Only a rusty, rugged, old upside down bucket will do. Implication: manly men understand engines, smell like grease, and don’t have time for modern-looking sissy shit.
Uh, what the fuck is that knife he’s wearing? Where, in the course of your daily activities spent training 800 pound dinosaurs, building bungalows, fixing motorcycles, and hitting on slow-witted park executives is a fixed-blade hunting knife necessary enough to carry at all times?
Here’s a list of objects that would probably be more useful for everyday carry: a satellite phone, a flashlight, a Leatherman tool, dinosaur spray (think bear spray but stronger), a big ass pack of gauze, a deck of playing cards, condoms, Pop Tarts, a Roku remote, a copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People, a few 5-hour energies, Indiana Jones’ bullwhip, a replica lightsaber. But no, Chris Pratt has to carry a large knife because implication: manly men offer protection and are violent.
Now here is a perfect example of what is presumably a woman (or a gay dude… or a straight dude managing a social media account followed by chicks) tweeting about how sexually attractive Chris Pratt is in this scene. Joss Whedon (of Firefly fame) has a problem with the scene, but not, apparently, with the idiots who bought into it.
I’m not saying this scene is sexist but I’m also not saying Joss Whedon wasn’t onto something, whether he knew it or not. I mean, the scene does base all its humor and dialogue on played-out tropes in which the man is the brash, carnal being who initiates sex while the woman is the pure goddess (literally wearing white) who must be conquered and corrupted, but come on, that much was obvious to even a gender studies neophyte. This scene goes deeper. I’m all about knives, motorcycles and the motherfucking bungalows. Joss Whedon took Gender Politics 101 and I’ve graduated to 201. Read a book sometime, Joss. Geez.
Section 4: Rapid fire superficiality
Henley t’s? Check. Chest hair? Check. Leather vest? Check. Impractical gun? Just kidding, that gun is awesome. Slightly unkempt facial hair? Check. Now look at the last picture. Even his watch is inverted, dammit. Why? I’ll tell you why. Implication: Manly men don’t conform in their dress and appearance and like to scratch their watch faces on rocks and the heads of their enemies.
Some of you may be thinking, “Hey man, relax. Pick apart his appearance a little more why dontcha. His character also DOES THINGS in the movie that show what a great man he is.” Oh really? Let’s take a look. TL;DR: you’re wrong.
Section 5: Manly men have fun and interesting hobbies like telling women to shut it
Examining some of Chris Pratt’s pastimes, we find that one of his favorite things to do is do whatever he wants and ignore any and all suggestions from anyone else, especially his uptight female counterpart. This includes: walking in dinosaur cages with which he is thoroughly unfamiliar, breaking chain of command during a crisis, and getting completely sidetracked when he was supposed to be rescuing children. Implication: Manly men don’t listen to anyone, especially women.
Let’s recap the story of Mr. Pratt’s third hobby.
Bryce Howard: “Chris, you’re so exasperating and yet dashing and dangerous. Will you come help me rescue my nephews out in the woods?”
Chris Pratt: “I guess. But only if I can tell you what to do at all times and not rescue them if I feel like it.”
Bryce (breathless): “OK.”
Kids (Out in the woods, tense music begins to play in the background.):
Chris (After driving for some time, stops the car and gets out.): “Stay in the car.”
Bryce: “Why? Is there danger afoot and since I’m an office executive you’re concerned for my safety?”
Chris: “No. Everything looks calm; I just want to make sure you do what you’re told. But since you won’t listen to my orders anyway, let’s go check out this dying dinosaur.”
Bryce: “Wow, this is amazing. We’re having such a great scene with this animal in her final moments.”
Chris: “Yeah… Really makes you think, huh? Look, there are more…”
Aaaand scene. Hey Chris, not a good look, my man. A little hustle, please. Somewhere in the annals of the internet there’s got to be a count for the number of times in film and television a male character has said to a female, “Stay in the car.” When Chris Pratt said it in this movie, I seriously thought something was about to happen – that some danger was imminent and Chris was about to leap into action while protecting the fragile female. Nope! Just a dead-ass dinosaur! At least we picked up more manly implications, right?
[[WARNING: THIS NEXT PARAGRAPH CONTAINS SPOILERS.]]
Here’s one that’s a bit nit-picky (yes, more than the others) but speaks to the larger point. Remember the part when Bryce Howard’s character needs the T-Rex cage opened? How does she get our comedic-relief nerd from New Girl to do it? Why simple! Just shame him by questioning his manhood. But don’t just question his manhood in this one moment, tell him he’s never been a man his entire life! Bryce knows this because she just spent the entire movie standing next to a real man. And she knows it was a real man because he disregarded her contributions, bossed her around, hit on her, punched that one douche, and wore a vest. (OK… Chris Pratt also did most of the rescuing, TRAINED RAPTORS, and did a bunch of other badass stuff… but you get the idea.) What I would have loved is for the computer geek to say, “Hey, I’m almost the only one with balls enough to still be here helping. And in case you haven’t noticed, Pumpkin, you don’t really have a great track record when it comes to opening dinosaur cages. So yeah. Go fuck yourself.” Now maybe in my version of the script everyone would have died, but I think we as an audience would have all learned an important lesson and come away better people.
[[END SPOILERS HERE]]
Section 6: A final thought to bask in
Some of the implications I listed above about manly men may actually be true in real life. I’ll even admit the possibility that all of them could be true. And truthfully, I think there’s more truth than untruth in them. And THAT is exactly why they are so enticing to loads of female moviegoers. However, I also know Hollywood’s character ploys typically do not work very well given that movies with stale characters often fail. Hear that, ladies? I don’t actually think you’re as dumb as my article would lead you to believe.
But the point is this: a hipster beard doesn’t make a guy any more of a man; neither does having a guy pose with a motorcycle and a wrench. True, attractive, genuine masculinity is hard to find in film these days to the point where I’m not sure many filmmakers understand what it is and since this doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon, let’s recognize it for what it is. Crap.