In the summer of 1975, the world of The Summer Thriller was rocked forever. Whether you’ve seen it or not, you are no doubt familiar with iconic Jaws moments. From famous adlibs to musical themes that would be used to indicate suspense for decades to come, Jaws is chock-full of memorable moments. For many, these moments were more than mere movie fantasy to be discussed in film class. Adaptations, thrillers, and summer blockbusters would never be the same again. Jaws had a cultural impact so vast it simply can’t be addressed in one video. There’s a lot to be lauded, to be sure, but we’ve decided to take the low road and focus on why we can’t forgive Jaws for sullying our relationship with the ocean.
Five Ways Jaws Ruined the Deep Blue Sea
Hop aboard, dear sailor, as we float along and discuss the top 5 ways in which Jaws forever ruined the Deep Blue Sea. Get ready to cancel that boating trip and rethink your beach vacation, because we’ll be reminding you why it’s not your fault that you prefer pools. Yes, we’re about to re-traumatize you. But on the bright side, you can feel better about the fact that you were never really going to learn how to surf, anyways. If you agree with our diagnosis of your phobia, don’t forget to subscribe and blow up the like button or bite the dislike button if you disagree and don’t mind being wrong.
Spoilers from 1975 ahead
#5 The Obvious – Rampant Carnivorous Sharks
We’ll get the obvious one out of the way: Jaws made us all terrified of sharks. Sure, sharks are dangerous occasionally if given reason, but Jaws depicted them as complex creatures with not only the ability but also the desire to constantly hunt and murder humans. The Michael Myers of the ocean, if you will. The line “All this machine does is swim and eat and make little sharks,” comes to mind. While it’s true that the animatronic shark has not aged particularly well and might fit in better in that one attraction at the amusement park they refuse to update, they managed to instill fear in all generations of viewers. More than once, we see a character, often a child, swimming happily in the ocean and the next moment all we see is a growing pool of billowing blood. Fun times at the beach! In addition to those more graphic depictions of danger, viewers become victims to Spielberg’s infamous knack for creating suspense. We’re shown multiple potential attacks that turn out to be just people playing in the ocean, which lulls us into a false sense of security, only to then see a person (or dog – don’t even get us started on the dog) disappear into the water, never to be seen again. If the evil, fake-out induced suspense wasn’t enough, more than once, the audience has the surreal experience of seeing the shark’s POV as it considers the buffet of leg shaped snacks which makes us all terribly aware of how edible we really are.
Suffice it to say, even when people do manage to make it into the ocean, a part of their minds will always be watching for a wandering fin.
#4 The Obsession with Shark Content
Understandably, the success and fascination of Jaws inspired people to create similar content. Audiences wanted to feel what they felt the first time they saw one of their favorite movies. Unfortunately, what they got was an oversaturation of absolutely ludicrous shark-themed content. The pursuit started honestly enough with Shark Week premiering on the Discovery Channel in 1988. Originally, it sought to educate people about sharks, correct misconceptions, and perhaps reduce some of the fear that audiences felt after experiencing Jaws. Ocean lovers everywhere rejoiced! As time went on, however, because humans are the way that they are, Shark Week became less about oceanographic education and more about action and entertainment. This eventually led to such titles as Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives, which is classified as a “pseudo-documentary.” That’s right. A fake documentary. Apparently you’re allowed to do that. Around the same time, Syfy started producing the now infamous Sharknado series. If you’ve somehow managed to avoid Sharknado, here’s a brief synopsis: Tara Ried and Ian Ziering spend years fleeing LITERAL SHARK TORNADOES. There are a total of 6 of these movies. Someone in Hollywood thought this premise deserved as much airtime as OG Star Wars.
We can at least be grateful that the Sharknado series does not pretend to be remotely based in fact and is actually intended to be comedic. But shark lovers and would-be shark lovers everywhere will never forgive the lack of proper shark content.
#3 No More Spontaneous Beach Days
One of the best things the ocean gave us was the beach: a place of peace, fun, and spontaneity. Well, that all goes down the toilet like a dead fish right after watching Jaws. Right out the gate, we see a group of teens hanging out on the beach at night, having a real good time. We think “Aw, man, when’s the last time I did that? Gotta plan that next beach trip.” Not two seconds after thinking this, we follow a couple of the party-goers as they wander off towards the ocean looking to skinny dip. The skinny dipping doesn’t last long, though, because the hot young woman you were hoping to emulate swiftly becomes a shark snack. At that point you might be tempted to think “Well, as long as I stay in the safer parts of the beach, like the shallow pond surrounded by sand, I can’t be touched,” but of course you’re not safe there because in the world of Jaws, no one is safe. In one of the most suspenseful scenes in the movie, a woman repeatedly screams “there’s a shark in the pond” as our protagonists realize their son is in the pond and race to get to him before it’s too late. Sharks are not above taking a dip in the kiddy pool.
If fear of sharks doesn’t keep you away from the beach, realizing that your fun getaway is just dollars to an uppity mayor just might. Jaws forces audiences to realize, that their little vacation is just a plot for sleazy men to make tourist money as they see Amity mayor Larry Vaughn bluntly discuss the need to stay open for tourist money. Of course, tourism is a valid and necessary form of income for many regions, but the way it’s depicted in Jaws leaves audiences feeling used.
Whether it attacks your love of skinny dipping, a casual float in the pond, or just the getaway in general, Jaws ruins your beach vacation.
#2 The Death of Flotation Devices
Heading down to the beach with your floaty lounge chair with cup holders could be the height of relaxation if it weren’t for Jaws. In a scene where there’s a mass panic to exit the water, we see kid after kid on an inflatable lounger struggle to make any headway. It seems that in terms of shark evasion, flotation devices are more like silver serving platters than swimming aids. The biggest hit comes when, instead of seeing the son return from the ocean, a distraught mother is met with a pool of blood and a clearly shark bitten, deflated lounger. The seemingly 60 year old woman who for some reason had a small child is inconsolable, and so are we.
Before we share the top reason why sharks are the worst, don’t forget to bleed on the subscribe button. We will be putting out more videos about who or what ruined or saved some of our favorite movies and shows every week.
#1 The Ruining of Boats in General.
Lest you begin thinking you can still enjoy the serenity of the ocean from the safety of a sea vessel, we’re here to show you how thoroughly Jaws ruined boats in general.
Brody and his wife waste no time in traumatizing their children by screaming at them from the balcony to get the hell out of the boat they were chilling in. At first we think “calm down, movie dad. Just because you saw drawings of sharks munchin on boats in that weird book of yours doesn’t mean we should actually be worried.” The naivete! We proceed to watch boats of all sizes be no match for this eating machine. Most notable of these boat destructions has to be that of Ben Gardner. When Brody yells from atop his own ill-fated ship “That’s Ben Gardner’s boat,” we know it ain’t good, but we are not prepared for what we’re about to see. Even in 2020, the jump scare that is Ben’s dead, gray, wide-eyed underwater face is harrowing.
Even if you do manage to conquer your fears of dead boat face and hop onto a ship, there is almost a 90% chance someone in your party will giggle to themselves and say “I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat!” Sure, Roy Shneider’s adlib (which was actually “you’re gonna need a bigger boat”) was genius at the time, but did he realize that every person who’s ever dragged on a boat outing with their friends would have to suffer through a horrible impression? No.
Even the observational boat lover did not escape the grips of Jaws. Those who might prefer to admire boats from afar and purely fantasize about the ocean and boats and sailors are in for a shock when forced to suffer through Robert Shaw’s incoherent, drunk portrayal of “The Sailor.” Sure, we all love a good rapscallion sailor, but Shaw’s inability to deliver the simplest of lines has one yearning for simpler days when Popeye was our favorite sailorman.
Did we miss any ways Jaws ruined the whole ocean? Are we totally wrong? Did Jaws actually make you love the ocean more? Let us know in the comments below!
Writer: Arielle Andreano
Editor: AB Scarlett
Voice: Scott Tunnix
Video: Dhananjay Singh & Angel Gustanski
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Scarlett.Media productions are for commentary, criticism and parody. All media samples are for transformative and fair use.
See Hosseinzadeh v. Klein, 276 F.Supp.3d 34 (S.D.N.Y. 2017); Equals Three, LLC v. Jukin Media, Inc., 139 F. Supp. 3d 1094 (C.D. Cal. 2015).