Who's Behind 'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom' Dinosaur Rights Astroturf Group?

A new video for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the fifth movie in the Jurassic Park series, introduces us to Dinosaur Protection Group and their mission to rescue and conserve the dinosaurs of Isla Nublar, former site of both the Jurassic World and Jurassic Park theme parks. The organization is run by Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), last seen running Jurassic World into the ground. But instead of the corporatist bureaucrat of the first movie, this new Dinosaur Protection Group video reveals Claire to be a passionate animal rights activist with an eccentric, idealistic mission. Did she really have a change of heart, as she writes on the Dinosaur Protection Group site? Or are shadowy funders using Dinosaur Protection Group for their own ends, with Dearing as their public face?

Not only is the version of Claire we see in this video completely different from her character in the first Jurassic Worldfrom jaded, anti-social workaholic to idealistic, child-loving dreamer—but even her mission seems completely opposed to the themes of the first Jurassic World. In that movie, we learned the dinosaurs are not dinosaurs at all, but wholly manipulable genetic product, whose every biological parameter can be tinkered, adjusted and speciated to accommodate branding opportunities or military contractors.

The ostensible plot of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is the opposite, with dinosaur rights activists travelling to Isla Nublar to protect the animals from extinction, even knowing, as Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong) told anyone who would listen, that you could just as easily print off a few dozen more. The Dinosaur Protection Group site even proposes sending veterinarians to the island to treat dinosaurs. Beyond just saving the dinosaurs from volcanic destruction, the Dinosaur Protection Group proposes to interfere in the ad hoc ecosystem taking place on the island, protecting prey species from predators and expending immense resources to protect genetically engineered clones.

Considering the wave of extinctions that have swept this planet over the past few centuries, due entirely to human involvement, it seems monstrous to prioritize overgrown lab experiments over literally any other environmental cause imaginable.

In the trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, we witness a rescue operation at a grand scale, expending resources Greenpeace or the Rainforest Fund would never be provided. This raises an intriguing possibility: is the Dinosaur Protection Group an astroturf organization, designed to cover for an ulterior motive?

Astroturf is any organization pretending to have a popular mandate, act as if riding a wave of genuine, organic support, but are actually propagandizing on behalf of powerful interests with secret motives. It's a common tactic for embattled industries, like "clean" coal or health insurance, who hide behind a phony social movement to push their preferred policies or provide a moderate alternative to a popular policy they fear.

Their lives are in our hands. Protect dino rights! #DPG pic.twitter.com/jp53mnqAUK

— Dinosaur Protection Group (@DinoProtectGrp) February 10, 2018

Sure enough, like other astroturf organizations with mysterious backers, dark money and a dishonest pitch, the Dinosaur Protection Group doesn't disclose its funders, a common accountability problem with political advocacy groups across the ideological spectrum. "All operations are 100% funded by the financial support of like-minded individuals," their site reads, implying a groundswell of individual, small donors, but denying any independent review of the claim.

One character we haven't seen in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom trailers yet is Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), John Hammond's original partner in founding InGen, who steps out of the shadows after the death of Simon Masrani in the first Jurassic World. Could he be bankrolling the Dinosaur Protection Group in secret, perhaps to retrieve the dinosaur genetic material and whatever other assets he can from Isla Nublar?

Though ostensibly a friendly message and innocuous viral marketing campaign, the Dinosaur Protection Group outreach points to more in the Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom plot than what's been revealed in trailers. Beyond that, it's an effective look at how innocent and populist a big-money astroturf campaign can appear. Underneath the "rescue dinosaurs from a volcano" adventure story lurks an astroturf conspiracy. Is Claire in on it, chasing credibility in the corporate ecosystem after her career-ending failures at Jurassic World? Or, perhaps, Claire and Owen (Chris Pratt) really are dumb enough to go back to the island for the world's worst cause.

All will be revealed when Jurassic World: Hidden Kingdom hits theaters June 22.