The Legacy of Jaws and America’s Fascination with Sharks

The movie Jaws led many viewers to stay away from beaches when it was released in 1975, and has been widely criticized for promoting negative stereotypes about sharks and their behavior. Peter Benchley eventually regretted writing the book, and in 1995 said: “The extensive new knowledge of sharks would make it impossible for me to create, in good conscience, a villain of the magnitude and malignity of the original. … If I have one hope, it is that we will come to appreciate and protect these wonderful animals before we manage, through ignorance, stupidity and greed, to wipe them out altogether.”

Conservationists hate that the film has made it difficult to convince the public that sharks need protection from humans, not the other way around. But Jaws launched the summer-blockbuster genre, and Roy Scheider’s line “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” is 35th on a list of top 100 movie quotes, and composer John Williams’ musical theme is instantly recognizable (dun-dunh, dun-dunh).

Hooked on Sharks for better or for worse, the media’s love affair with sharks has kept us entertained for decades.

Looking for more Sharks in pop-culture? Check out Top 5 Worst Shark Movies of All Time.

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