The dinosaurs deserved to die

Kevin Cowherd

June 11, 1993|By Kevin Cowherd

If you're anything like me, which is to say an honest, clear-thinking American, you've had it up to here with dinosaurs.

Dinosaur movies, dinosaur kiddie show hosts, dinosaur mugs, dinosaur T-shirts, dinosaur backpacks . . . look, there's a reason dinosaurs disappeared 65 million years ago and now we know what it is: They're so damn annoying!

Me, I'm at the point now where if someone even mentions "Jurassic Park," my face starts twitching.

And then I . . . well, God help me but I start reaching for a tire iron to whack the offending clod over the head.

You hate to point fingers, but much of the current outbreak of dino-mania can be traced to that big goof Barney.

Barney started out as a sweet, gooey-voiced purple dinosaur who kept toddlers glued to the TV with touchy-feely lessons about life while mom and dad wolfed down their morning coffee and English muffins.

L But the creators of Barney couldn't leave well enough alone.

So pretty soon you had 14-year-old Taiwanese factory workers churning out Barney dolls, Barney sweat shirts, Barney lunch boxes, etc, which every whiny pre-school kid in America had to have.

Then Barney started getting the VIP treatment from the national press. He appeared on the cover of TV Guide. He was the focal point for PBS' spring fund-raising beg-a-thon.

And soon he was so big that he attracted screaming, wild-eyed crowds of 100,000 at shopping mall appearances, where he showed up with a retinue of bodyguards and publicity flacks.

In other words, Barney turned into a kiddie version of Sun Yung Moon.

And so the predictable "Barney Backlash" occurred, with the formerly cuddly dinosaur suddenly getting the kind of bad PR normally associated with Satan worshipers.

To me, it's just a matter of time before angry, torch-bearing mobs of parents take to the streets to hunt down Barney and destroy him.

Now comes a fresh wave of dino-mania with "Jurassic Park," the mega-hit of this summer's movie season about cloned dinosaurs running amok at a theme park.

Sure enough, those same 14-year-old Taiwanese workers who produced the Barney products are gearing up for some serious overtime.

Jurassic Park key chains, Jurassic Park windbreakers, Jurassic Park action figures . . . kids, look for them soon in a store near you!

McDonald's is even offering something called the Jurassic Park Meal, which consists of a triple cheeseburger, "dino-sized!" fries and large soda in a colorful souvenir dinosaur cup.

(This is probably neither here nor there, but with McDonald's relying increasingly on promotional tie-ins with big-budget movies such as "Batman," "Hook," etc., the huge fast-food chain just might be getting set to dump veteran spokesclown Ronald McDonald.

(And where, you ask yourself, does someone like Ronald look for another job? Maybe I'm being overly pessimistic, but I don't see a lot of companies rushing to hire a white male with a bright orange Afro, garish clothes and big, floppy feet. Not to mention a tendency toward silly behavior.)

As it did with the Barney phenomenon, the media is also hyping the dickens out of "Jurassic Park," with magazines like Newsweek, Omni and Rolling Stone featuring dinosaur-related stories.

Here's my favorite: the July Penthouse even has an article about scientific concerns regarding dinosaur bones and fossils being used as collectibles.

Yeah, no question about it, if I'm a serious paleontologist studying triceratops, brachiosaurs and the like, the first publication I turn to is Penthouse.

Oh, sure, you might have to work around those distracting shots of Penthouse Pet Tiffany Arnold (or whatever her name is) and her 42-inch chest.

You might also be distracted by the "interview" with Tiffany, where she reveals a life-long ambition to attend medical school, combat disease in Third World countries and develop a cure for cancer -- or else be a showgirl at the Sands in Atlantic City, N.J.

But that's a small price to pay for all that, ahem, up-to-date scientific info on dinosaurs.

As for whether the movie "Jurassic Park" is any good, I saw the movie and thoroughly enjoyed it -- that is, when I wasn't cowering in my seat and sobbing "THEY'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!" as the tyrannosaurus rex terrorized everyone.

Of course, I'm the same guy who said "The Godfather" would be a huge flop and that Tom Clancy would never be more than a minor regional author.

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