Did the Jaws Movies Make People Fear Sharks

There are three movies in The Jaws collection all popular with viewers who enjoy suspense coupled with a sprinkling of violence as many scenes depict shark attacks. We do question as to whether these movies have coloured the view of many of us regarding sharks as we tend to believe what we see on the silver screen with no real knowledge of where fact begins and fiction takes over. So, did these three movies influence our opinions regarding sharks? Lets take a look at the Jaws movies and the facts regarding shark attacks to see what we come up with.

Jaws 1975

Jaws 1975

The original Jaws movie released in 1975 in our opinion is by far the best of the three. Starring Roy Scheider as Brody the Amity police chief who tracks down and kills the great white shark Jaws is a movie that certainly makes us think twice about swimming too far out to sea while enjoying a day at the beach.

The story begins where the remains of a victim who has been bitten by the enormous shark are found on the beach. Brody immediately wants to close the beach to the public but is blocked by the local mayor who fears closing the beach will send out the wrong signal to holidaymakers therefore lose the town money.

Brody is outvoted so the beach remains open and consequently the following day a young boy is devoured by the shark in front of many swimmers. The scene is frightening with music by John Williams adding to the drama and suspense of the moment, while the boys mother offers a reward to anyone who can kill the shark with the scene where she slaps Brody across the face blaming him for her sons demise feeling very powerful.

Chief Brody sets out with a marine biologist played by Richard Dreyfuss and a local fisherman named Quint who knows the waters around Amity really well. They do eventually track the shark down but not before Quint meets his demise inside the jaws of the beast. Jaws is a great shark themed movie directed by Steven Spielberg that has since become a popular classic that really ignites our fear when it comes to what we think about sharks and our safety.

Jaws 2 1978

Following the huge success the Jaws original movie enjoyed Jaws 2 came hot on its heels but directed this time by Jeannot Szwarc. Roy Schieder starred again as Chief Brody who once again finds himself in the position of defending Amity against another man eating great white shark.

Following the deaths of a deep sea diver and a girl water skiing Brody realises that another great white is terrorising the town. Once again the town mayor will not close the beach, while Brody makes matters worse by causing panic when he mistakes a shoal of fish for a great white shark making people think he is paranoid.

Brody warns his sons not to go out sailing in the water as it is not safe but they do not heed his warning and end up terrorised out at sea by a huge white shark that claims a few victims before Brody arrives on the scene to save the remaining kids.

Jaws 3 1983

Jaws 3 for us was a movie too far cashing in on the success of the previous two films. The plot involves Brody's son who works in a sea world theme park that, yes you have guessed, ends up terrorised by a great white shark. This third outing of Jaws for us had none of the excitement and shock value that the two previous movies had. It felt like a well worn path that we were treading once too often.

Jaws 3 did have some success, directed by Joe Alves it starred Dennis Quaid as Mike Brody the original Chief Brody's son. Fans who have not seen the Jaws trilogy really should as the first two movies are exceptional with the third in our opinion watchable but far from a classic.

The Jaws Affect

The Jaws movies certainly preyed on our phobias and fears to great affect as the fear of sharks has long been one of mankinds greatest phobias. The thought of being trapped in shark infested waters is the thing nightmares are made of therefore Steven Spielberg came up with superb subject matter for his shark themed horror movies.

All the way through the original film the great white shark caused death and destruction with not one victim surviving an attack. The visuals were really gory with blood spurting out all over the place turning the sea red, while the suspense that was created when an attack was imminent was edge of the seat stuff.

The predator in Jaws is nothing short of ginormous as it was thirty five feet long and looked very realistic. it made us feel that were we ever to encounter a shark certain death woud be the result. The movies also portrayed the shark as a predator that would always attack humans in any situation be it simply swimming in the sea, diving, water skiing or even paddling a dinghy in a safe pool. This instilled in us that a shark could get anywhere it desired plus when it did surviving was a none starter.

Humans have always had a fear of sharks and probably always will but the Jaws movies did nothing to alay our fears in fact it propelled them further giving sharks a fearsome profile that should be feared. It also promoted the feeling that the only good shark was a dead one. While we don't think the movies purposely wish to condemn all sharks they certainly do a great job of enhancing our fears to the point of shark phobia mayhem.

Shark Facts and Statistics

Sharks come in many sizes with some as small as eight inches while others can be as long as fifty feet which I think you will agree is enormous. The reputation of the shark is fearsome, while they often get a bad press too. Below we will list some interesting shark facts in order to bring some perspective to the argument as to whether sharks are dangerous predators to be feared rather than respected.

  1. 1. There are 400 different types of shark
  2. Sharks lose their teeth on a weekly basis with more replacing lost teeth in rows of up to fifteen
  3. Many sharks live up to thirty years with whale sharks possibly living to one hundred and fifty
  4. Injured fish put out an infrasonic sound that sharks can pick up
  5. Great white sharks are not often found in north eastern waters
  6. Sharks can detect a drop of blood from a great distance
  7. Humans are far more likely to be killed by wasps, bees or dogs than sharks
  8. Blue sharks are facing extinction due to the trade in their fins.

Shark Attacks the Facts

Shark attacks are actually very rare but due to our fear of these magnificent creatures when we see a report of a shark attack it brings out all the irrational feelings we feel regarding sharks to the fore. Compared to the number of swimmers, divers and the like who swim in the sea every year shark attacks statistically are low. Of course this is no consolation if you are the unlucky person that ends up as a statistic but we have to put this into perspective.

In 2012 there were one hundred and eighteen shark related incidents worldwide with eighty being found by the ISAF to be unprovoked by humans. 50% of incidents were recorded around Hawaai and The Caribbean with Australia coming in next. Three fatalities occured off South Africa, while in total there were seven deaths worldwide from shark attacks.

Surfers seem to be the main shark targets followed by divers and swimmers but it is a fact that shark attacks are a case of mistaken identity by the shark as he mistakes swimmers for seals. Advice for those who encounter a shark is to hit him on the nose as this will give the swimmer time to escape. Portraying fear will only increse a sharks attack, while most attacks occur at twilight.

Statistically the risk of suffering a shark attack is one in eleven and a half million not bad odds is it? Since records began in 1580 there have only been one hundred and fifty two reported fatalities which we think you will agree is really surprisingly low! Dogs, who we regard as household pets have been responsible for two hundred deaths in the last ten years alone really putting things into perspective. Finally our verdict is that sharks can be dangerous but if treated with respect plus gaining a deeper knowledge of sharks will certainly make you safer in the ocean, while abject fear is an irrational phobia heightened by horror movies such as Jaws.