Rick McGinnis writes:
Jaws producer David Brown admitted that they’d delayed the release of the film “till people were in the water off the summer beach resorts.” Set in a New England seaside island town around the Fourth of July weekend, the film hit cultural and box office pay dirt, finding the spot where our ancient fear of nature’s lethality intersected with ‘70s unease and skepticism about the competence and intentions of the people we chose to lead us. Jaws-mania is one of my earliest memories of a pop culture phenomenon, inspiring neighbourhood kids to wonder if a shark attack could happen in Lake Ontario or, even more improbably, Wasaga Beach.
As much as I enjoy Jaws, and as many times as I’ve watched it, I usually lose interest or fall asleep sometime after the three men on the becalmed boat hunting the shark start comparing scars. This isn’t a knock at Steven Spielberg’s direction, or the performances of Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfus and Robert Shaw, but a reflection of my opinion that Jaws isn’t really about a shark.
Jaws was the first summer blockbuster — about another kind of “summer blockbuster,” that is:
One small beach town’s reliance on the tourist dollars that pour in during one slender interval out of 12 long months.
Although I doubt anyone has ever actually died (directly) I wonder how many lives have been wrecked by Hollywood execs who, like the mayor of Amity, let greed override any respect for human life — in their drive to put out, ironically, the next Jaws.