There was something that people fixated on with Jurassic World: Bryce Dallas Howard running away from dinosaurs in high heels. This was, as our friend Film Crit Hulk puts it, a tangible detail. It was something onto which people could latch and attach their larger feelings of unease about gender roles in the film.
I tend to think that the high heels thing is crazy minor; I'm much more in tune with Joss Whedon's complaints about the dynamics between Howard and Chris Pratt, and I found plenty of other small, uncomfortable moments of gender imbalance to make me squirm (the kids hero worshipping Pratt despite seeing Howard kill a dino, the 'bridezilla' who gets tortured to death). But people really paid attention to the high heels thing and it became something of a meme. I actually don't even mind the high heels thing - it worked for me as a character beat. And Howard agrees! Talking to Cosmo she says:
“This character needed to seem ill-equipped to be in the jungle. She was somebody who looks like she belongs in a corporate environment for a reason, because she was someone who was disconnected from the animals and disconnected from that reality and disconnected from herself. She doesn't at all expect that she's going to be tromping through the jungle. I'm really glad that we didn't make the choice for me to be barefoot, because that would have also been kind of dangerous.”
“And you know what? She's in high heels because she's a woman who has been in high heels her whole life and she can fucking sprint in them. She can. That's kind of how I perceived it. She doesn't have to be in menswear and flats in order to outrun a T-Rex. That's what women can do.”
Say it! I am always amazed by women who can totally power walk down busy, uneven sidewalks in high heels.
But like I said, the high heels became the focal point for all of Jurassic World's gender issues, and as a result things are being changed.
“Colin [Trevorrow, the director,] texted me ‘#NoHeels2018.' Claire knows to get in there now and her dynamic with the animals has certainly shifted, and the woman you see at the end of Jurassic World is very different from the woman see you at the beginning."
Will this be a situation where fixation on a tangible detail leads to ignoring a larger issue? It's crazy that the original Jurassic Park had more great female leads than Jurassic World, decades later. I hope that the sequel to this movie really takes notes from other criticisms of the first beyond 'no high heels.'