Sunday, January 03, 2010

Artistic moments

Last night, I saw Jaws, a subtle yet realistic portrait of a killer shark that kills. It begins a bit misleadingly, with little killing or sharks to speak of, but then the killer shark kills and things even out. With its deeply felt portrait of the tense-yet-loving relationship between the killer shark and the things that it kills, Jaws has helped us all, as a community, to move towards a greater understanding of the situation of killer sharks in all walks of life. Mostly focusing on their killing.

And yet, Jaws could so easily have been about something else. What if, instead of being about killer sharks that kill, it had been about killer helicopters? Or killer doorjambs? Or cupboards with indigestion? Here, too, are widely misunderstood communities crying out for greater support from our social institutions and legislative frameworks. And yet there remains no realistic cinematic portrayal of their plight. Or, for that matter, any cinematic portrayal of them at all. It is a stunning oversight on the part of our directors and scriptwriters. Perhaps we can attribute this to racism.

Why do killer sharks kill? Is it because they are natural predators? Are they motivated by the taste of blood? Is it, as certain linguists and pedants like to point it, tautological to even say that 'killer sharks kill'? Or is it, maybe, due to poor education in the killer shark community, and a lack of knowledge about non-violent forms of conflict resolution? Scientists are uncertain as to the causes of this behaviour, but they are at least united in their belief that the killer shark that kills in Jaws is a rather scary shark indeed. Although the fight continues, we may gradually see this understanding come to be reflected in the marine biology curriculum of students all over the world. In time, students worldwide will learn the fundamental facts of the universe: killer sharks kill, truck drivers are evil, atom bomb blasts can be avoided by climbing into the nearest fridge, and bicycles can fly.

Who said films couldn't change the world?


Steve said...

Hmm, a post in which you display a pleasing knowledge of Spielberg films and no one has commented.

I have rectified that.

I am pleased Spielberg is not doing a new version of Harvey after all. I thought the original was kind of dull.

TimT said...

Harvey? Never heard of it, but just looked it up on Wikipedia. My only experience with gigantic talkative bunnies is on Donny Darko, and consequently the movie sounds rather creepy.

Email: timhtrain - at -

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