DAVID KRONEMYER: A recent article in The Economist profiled a peculiar institution called The Creation Museum, located in the up-to-date metropolis of Petersburg, Kentucky. “Keeping the Word,” The Economist 32 (Jun. 2, 2007). Built at a cost of $27 million, the museum is premised on the concept that man and dinosaurs evolved together. The Museum answers a host of puzzling questions attendant to the so-called “creationist” schematic, such as, “were there dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark?” Answer: yes, they just happened to be small ones. And, evidently, not very hungry (otherwise, they’d eat everything else on the ark).
In addition to being entertaining, the article caused me to reflect on several past media productions. Although I did not know it at the time, it now appears, in retrospect, these carried a subtle – OK, maybe not so subtle – creationist agenda. The reasons why I didn’t realize it at the time, are: (a) creationism had not yet made a sufficiently pervasive media splash, ergo hadn’t yet infiltrated the public consciousness with enough vivacity, for me to be aware of it; and, (b) I simply was watching the shows with my children, not attendant to their now-much-clearer message. I apologize for both of these oversights.
The TV show was Land of the Lost. Wikipedia: “It featured the Porter family – father Tom, son Kevin and daughter Annie – trapped in a parallel universe after their Jeep Cherokee fell through a time portal while exploring the backcountry. They soon meet another human, a beautiful ‘cave girl’ named Christa who also came from the United States during the twentieth-century. * * * Intelligent natives of the Land of the Lost include chimpanzee-like Pakuni and the lizard-like Sleestak, and there are many species of dinosaurs filling the jungle. A paku named Stink and a baby dinosaur named Tasha were befriended by the Porters. Acting as antagonists were a trio of exiled Sleestak criminals named Shung, Keeg and Nim. * * * Another major obstacle faced by the Porters was a one-eyed T-Rex named Scarface, who lived near the area where the family made their home, and frequently chased after them in an attempt to eat them.” Here are some sleestaks:
Yum yum yum. The main reason why me and my kids watched Land of the Lost was because we liked the corny “special effects,” and, of course, the Sleestaks. In fact, we still warn each other to this very day, to keep an eye out for them. Little family fable, there.
One of the movies is Adventures in Dinosaur City (1992). Wikipedia: “The story involves a group of three teenagers who travel into their favorite TV show, named ‘Dino Saurs’. Upon entering the new world, the trio comes across the character of Forey, a flying dinosaur who can’t fly. His knowledge of Dinosaur World proves useful, as he guides the three kids to Tar Town, where they join up with Rex and Tops, two dinosaur freedom fighters willing to ignite a revolution against the villian, Mr. Big, and his evil caveman pawns, ‘The Rockies.’”
The other movie (actually, a Mini TV series): Dinotopia (2002). Wikipedia: “Carl and David, two boys flying a small aircraft over the ocean with their father, crash land near an uncharted island. The boys swim safely to shore, but their father unfortunately drowns in the crash. On their own, the brothers explore the island and soon discover it is not only inhabited by people, but by dinosaurs as well. While the place seems easy enough to get used to, the boys must find a way of returning to their home.”
All three of these productions play on the paradox of the “sentient dinosaur,” that is, one with thoughts, intentions, and capacity for action – even more advanced than, say, the velociraptors of Jurassic Park. They also depict humans and dinosaurs co-existing peacefully in a single, symbiotic society, when, if the truth be known, it’s more likely they’d be trying to eat each other. The velociraptors, in contrast, were just plain mean. And, hungry.
Never addressed in any of them, though, is the premise: what in the heck are those dinos doing, being alive contemporaneously, and cavorting around with, humans? Part of the power of an implicit message is, it remains just that – it never is articulated. A good argument can be made that, once articulated, it loses its motive power, and force.
So, hats off to these innovative creators for keeping their creationism agenda “under wraps,” as it were, and enabling us to enjoy their productions, blissfully unaware we were being spoon-fed their revanchist religious beliefs.