Recently – while vegetating under the influence of pain medication following another nightmarish trip to the dentist – I decided to watch a movie. I figured it would be a nice distraction and get my mind off my tooth woes.
For no particular reason, I selected Jaws (although since my teeth are located within my jaws, perhaps there was subliminal messaging at play). I’ve seen the summer blockbuster more times than I can count, and always considered it one the great horror/adventure films ever made.
Here’s the thing, though – experiencing it while mellow and medicated is eye-opening. In fact, it made me realize that Jaws is a horror movie, but it’s the people who are horrible, not the shark.
See, at the beginning of the movie Bruce (Bruce is the name they gave the mechanical shark in the title role, so that’s what I’ll call him in this piece) was just doing his thing, which is to swim around the ocean and look for snacks. It was late, he had the munchies, and when he cruised Amity Island, he noticed Chrissie Watkins swimming.
So, he ate her.
Absolutely nothing wrong with that.
If I’m in my house and I see food, I have every right to consume that food.
The ocean is Bruce’s house, and he was hungry.
Of course, this is tragic for Ms. Watkins and her family, but look at it from Bruce’s standpoint. He didn’t break into her house and eat her; she broke into his house.
Now the politicians in Amity – chiefly Mayor Larry Vaughn – wanted to keep this eating incident quiet because it was tourist season. Police chief Martin Brody reluctantly agreed, and that set the stage for one big feast.
In a sweep through the ocean and estuary, Bruce ate Alex Kintner and a Boy Scout leader. (Well, you don’t see the Boy Scout leader eaten, but you do see his detached leg sinking, so I’m gonna assume Bruce gobbled the rest of him). A dog named Pippet also disappeared in the water but I don’t like seeing bad things happen to animals, so I’m pretending he just got tired of playing frisbee with that hipster and swam to freedom.
Was this “attack” a tragedy for the Kintners and the Boy Scouts of America?
Was it a tragedy for Bruce?
No … it was lunch. If you watch the scene carefully, you can see that it’s late morning/early afternoon, so you had to figure Bruce was getting a bit peckish.
Later we found out he had also eaten part of Ben Gardner, so after four human deaths, Brody, ichthyologist Matt Hooper, and ship captain/shark hunter Quint (he had only one name, so I guess he was like Prince or Pink) decided they had to hunt him down and kill him.
No reason other than he was doing shark things.
Ultimately Bruce was killed in a ridiculous way by Brody, but not before he was able to eat Quint while in the process of destroying his boat.
Was this bad for Quint?
Was it worse for Bruce?
Of course … dude had already been poked, prodded, harpooned and shot, and he figured if he was going to die, he was going to die with a little something on his stomach.
So as the movie was ending – and Brody and Hooper were paddling their way back to shore – I found myself hoping Bruce’s relatives would come along and eat both of them. I mean, they deserved it, didn’t they? They came into Bruce’s territory with the sole purpose of killing him, and the only reason they wanted to kill him is because Bruce had the temerity to dine on the available foodstuff in his neighborhood.
Bruce was not the villain, folks.
Bruce was the victim … I can’t believe it took 47 years and a pain pill for me to finally figure that out.