I have a love affair with sharks that goes way back. One of my earliest memories is going to see Jaws with my brother and cousin when it came out in the theater when I was 5 years old. I am pretty sure my mom thought they were going to take me to see Benji or something and cannot imagine she agreed to have her baby girl go see a movie about a great white shark that goes on a human hunting spree and I am POSITIVE that nobody knew the effect the movie would have on me and that some 30-odd years later my fascination with sharks would culminate in the form of a tattoo on my behind, yet, here we are.
I find myself reading everything I can get my hands on about sharks and it is a given that I must watch every single movie made about sharks, and yes, this includes cinematic masterpieces like Jersey Shore Shark Attack and Shark Night.
Sharks have become caricatures of the amazing creatures they are and my relationship with them and how they are portrayed is a complicated one. I am sure it is apparent by now that I cannot just LIKE something, I have to have a complicated relationship with it. I am an enigma wrapped in question marks surrounded by mystery, perhaps needlessly so, but in any case, I appreciate sharks for the real live incredible creatures they are, and have a healthy respect for them, while at the same time desire to watch any and all horrible movies about them. Movies that I know do not portray sharks as they really are, and no, I don’t necessarily think sharks are sensitive creatures that just want to be hugged. However, I do think they are creatures that really just want to be left alone. They don’t like how humans taste, they don’t want to hunt us, and they certainly don’t follow people in order to take revenge on the family of the person who killed the shark’s family member (Jaws: The Revenge…I’m still pissed).
Watching shark movies, both terrible and awesome for many years, has taught me a few things, and no, the lesson is not to stay out of the ocean. I still love the beach and swim in the ocean though never at night and never after sitting around a campfire smoking everything but our shoes (Jaws, with a nod to Steel Magnolias).
- Sometimes sharks are just doing what the rest of us wish we could do. More often than not, usually in a bloody third act, the antagonist gets what’s coming to him and/or her. From Malibu Beach Shark Attack to Shark Night, this is one thing you can depend on in virtually every terrible shark movie. Please note, when I say “terrible shark movie” I do not mean Jaws, which is highly regarded as an awesome movie even by people who do not have sharks tattooed on their asses.
- When will teenagers learn that boats + booze + sex = shark attack? Come on kids, this equation is in every movie from Deep Blue Sea to Swamp Shark to Shark Night.
- Let’s not monkey around with the genetics of sharks, mmmkay? Sure, sharks may possess the key to preventing and curing Alzheimer’s disease like in Deep Blue Sea or you may just be a crazed doctor who feels the need to fuse yourself with a shark like in Hammerhead – Shark Man. Trust me, the first idea is a good one but we don’t really want and/or need super smart sharks swimming around do we and there is nothing good about the head of a hammerhead shark on the body of a man. Not a good look. At all.
- Sharks may be and probably are in every body of water in existence. Think you’re safe in the beautiful waters of Venice while being paddled around in one of those sightseeing boats while being serenaded by some guy in a striped shirt and stupid hat? If so, Stephen Baldwin in Shark in Venice has a bridge he would like to sell you, though not the Golden Gate bridge because that was eaten by the huge shark in Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus.
- Every single shark that has ever lived still lives down at the bottom of the ocean just waiting to be re-awakened by stupid man and our constant need for high-rise hotels or oil or some other thing that we totally could live without. Every. Single. One. Megalodon is still swimming around out there and of course starring in the movie Megalodon and the aforementioned Mega Shark vs.Giant Octopus and the followup Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus. Just stop with the building and the drilling you animals!
This list has been tongue in cheek, of course, but the reality of sharks is that they are amazing creatures that are being hunted so their fins can be made into a Chinese delicacy, shark fin soup. A soup that is virtually tasteless yet is thought to enhance sexual potency.
The way the sharks are caught, their fins cut from their body, then tossed back into the ocean to suffocate because they have no way to swim and take in oxygen, is really sickening. Don’t eat shark fin soup but DO celebrate the beginning of summer by watching either a semi-terrible shark movie like Deep Blue Sea, which is one of the best of the worst, or a really awful shark movie like Swamp Shark, or an enjoyable scary shark movie like Open Water, which is truly frightening and much like Jaws for the first half of the movie, the IDEA of sharks is much scarier than actual sharks. Or, learn about the animals themselves by watching an awesome documentary like Sharkwater, or one of the Discovery Channel’s wonderful series featured as part of their Shark Week (especially since they’ve gotten away from glorifying the killing of sharks).
If for some reason you haven’t seen the granddaddy of them all, Jaws, please, I implore you, just watch it, if only for the amazing performances of Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss.
Now get out there and hug some sharks! Don’t really do that.