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Jurassic World Characters Not All They Appear

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Doesn't he look so excited?

Doesn’t he look so excited?

Something stuck out to me the second time I went to see Jurassic World. Gray, the younger of the two brothers in the film, can easily be read as autistic. I’ll be the first to admit that I love seeing autistic characters in films and books, and if I can read a character that way with canon support, then I will. Jurassic World was nice enough to give plenty of evidence that Gray is, in fact, autistic.

Obsession

One of the stereotypical hallmarks of an autistic person is their intense obsession with a few specific subjects. In Jurassic World the audience is shown Gray’s obsession before we formally meet him. The first scene he is shown in, we see a couple slides of dinosaurs through an old-school view finder, before zooming out to see Gray in a room filled with dinosaur paraphernalia. After this, Gray talks almost incessantly about dinosaurs. He is filled with so many facts that one can only assume he spends a great deal of his time and energy learning about them. The way he talks about them leads to the second symptom of autism.

Lack of Social Ques

Gray does not stop talking about dinosaurs. Even when people obviously do not care and are even annoyed by him, he does not stop. The way he acts is as though he does not notice that others do not care about dinosaurs as much as he does. The audience can easily see that his brother, Zach, couldn’t care less about what Gray was telling him and would even prefer for Gray to stop talking about dinosaurs. What is obvious to the audience, is not obvious to Gray.

Anxiety and Fear

It is completely understandable for Gray to have anxiety and fear during most of the movie, there is a lot of death and destruction going on around him. However, I want to focus more on how he feels about the divorce. Most kids don’t notice letters from lawyers, take the time to Google those lawyers, and keep that information in until it bursts out in a fit of fear. The timing of Gray suddenly telling Zach about the divorce is strange. He is in the middle of what is probably one of the best vacations of his life, and this sudden fear and sadness about his parents divorcing hits him. There is no build up to Gray’s sudden anxiety over the divorce. There were no hints that he even knew about it before the scene. So why is Gray hit with this anxiety out of nowhere?

More Hyper When Happy

Gray is a pretty hyper kid. But the happier he gets, the more his mouth runs and the more he almost literally bounces around. The scenes where Gray is less happy, the more serious or mellow scenes, he is calm and still. This is a direct contrast to every time he is happy and is almost literally running around with neither his brother nor his babysitter able to fully keep him in line. Zach seems used to this behavior from his brother by the disinterested way he reacts to this and the way he is able to easily keep up with what Gray is doing.

These are just a few of the ways Gray in Jurassic World could be read as autistic. While I do love that there are characters in popular media that can be read with neurodiversity, I would love to see explicitly neurodiverse characters in future movies and shows.

8 Comments

  1. Dominique Lewis

    July 7, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    I totally agree with your assessment. And I thought I was the only one to notice it! Not even my girlfriend said anything about it which is unusual because she’s a teacher (and a former special ed teacher at that). So she’s usually the one to point that kind of stuff out to me when we’re watching tv and movies together. I think that being with her has actually made me more sensitive to/aware of people who may be on the spectrum 🙂

    • Traci-Anne Canada

      July 8, 2015 at 12:48 pm

      I know. When I first mentioned it to my friends and family, they all looked at me like I was crazy. But after I broke down these traits and a few others, I think I got them to see it too. I wonder if it was Ty who decided to act it this way, the director who decided, or if it was an accident. Knowing Hollywood, it was probably an accident.

    • Traci

      July 8, 2015 at 1:17 pm

      I know. When I first mentioned it to my friends and family, they all looked at me like I was crazy. But after I broke down these traits and a few others, I think I got them to see it too. I wonder if it was Ty who decided to act it this way, the director who decided, or if it was an accident. Knowing Hollywood, it was probably an accident.

    • Libby

      July 21, 2016 at 12:20 pm

      I work with special needs kids and when I saw the film I thought ‘OK, he’s for sure on the spectrum’. But when I said that to my housemate she said that maybe he just loved dinosaurs and read about them a lot.
      It is hard to explain all the little clues that add up to someone who has no experience in that area.
      Although there seems to be tons of people online that had the same thought that I did.

  2. ashlie

    July 8, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    Definitely noticed this instantly. Often people on the autism spectrum are interested in/gifted with engines and cars, and even though it was still a stretch to get the Jeeps from the 90s running, I thought that was another nod to the possibility of Gray being on the spectrum. I thought Judy Greer’s character seemed disproportionately worried about Gray as opposed to his brother, which also supports that theory. Very subtly worked into the script!

    • Traci-Anne Canada

      July 8, 2015 at 1:13 pm

      I thought the same thing about the Jeeps too. That was actually the part that made it click for me. His ability to rattle off the specs from just a glance. I wasn’t able to decide if it was another deep interest of his or veering from his love of dinosaurs making him learn everything about the original park. But I never thought about his mom’s reaction to him, but you are very right.

    • Traci

      July 8, 2015 at 1:16 pm

      I thought the same thing about the Jeeps too. That was actually the part that made it click for me. His ability to rattle off the specs from just a glance. I wasn’t able to decide if it was another deep interest of his or veering from his love of dinosaurs making him learn everything about the original park. But I never thought about his mom’s reaction to him, but you are very right.

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