In this article, author Joseba Gabilondo discusses Steven Spielberg’s three highest grossing movies: Jaws, E.T., and Jurassic Park. Each of these three movies shares something in common with the others – non-human protagonists. Gabilondo addresses the influences of these three characters and how Hispanic and world cultures are affected by the globalization of Spielberg’s “monsters.”
Gabilondo begins with a discussion about how the shark, alien, and dinosaur, all seem to dominate the other characters in Jaws, E.T., and Jurassic Park, respectively. Furthermore, he points out that the main characters tend to be “white, masculine, heterosexual Anglo-American.” Consequently, when these characters eventually expose of or send away the associated “monster,” the stereotypical role reemerges in the spotlight of the film.
The effect of this process, Gabilondo writes, “...is a globalization that parallels that of America’s neo-imperialist supremacy.” For example, the shark in Jaws could be reduced to just a national problem (“man against nature”), thus excluding other nations from the situation. However, the alien in E.T. is most certainly a problem that must be applied globally. Finally, Jurassic Park actually takes place outside of the U.S., portraying Spielberg’s eventual globalization of his “monsters.”
According to Gabilondo, Jaws was not intended for audiences abroad as much as Spielberg’s later films, which is a logical conclusion because as he gained more experience and success, Spielberg was able to expand his horizons and produce movies with global appeal.
In this article, the psychological appeal of monsters, demons, and other intimidating and scary creatures is analyzed and studied using 1,166 surveys from people with ages ranging from 16-91. Overall, the most frequent stated reason for liking the monsters was due to the superhuman powers and the “ability to show us the dark side of human nature.”
Movie monsters in horror films became more prevalent when the Production Code was abolished around 1960, Hollywood found new freedom in being able to shock and awe its audiences. Along with the new found autonomy in the horror genre, new technological advances made it easier to produce realistic special effects. The shark in Jaws is an excellent example of how Hollywood used technology to produce one of the top 25 scariest monsters in movie history (according to the study in this paper). However, as horror films became more gruesome and realistic, it was the younger audience members that became hooked; older members started to stay away as the amount of shock overshadowed the suspense in horror films.
Jaws is a portrayal of an excellent balance between both shock and suspense, and consequently the shark was in the top 25 movie monsters for all three age groups in the study: young, middle, and older. Additionally, the shark’s carnal behavior allows the audience to view some shocking footage that not many people experience. Thus, it is not a stretch to assert that Jaws is, in part, considered such a remarkable film because it appeals to people of all ages (including both males and females).