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Keep the beaches open

See Jaws this weekend on the big screen

See? Bruce isn’t all that bad. Photo credit: Entertainment Weekly

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Have you ever been said to have eyes like a doll's eye? Then you might be a Jaws. Has the star of All That Jazz ever told you to smile, you son of a bitch? You might be a Jaws. Has a crusty old shark hunter raked his fingernails across a blackboard to tell your tale? You might be a Jaws. Have you ever swallowed a license plate? You might be a Jaws. Has Mayor Larry Vaughn decided to keep the beaches open despite your presence? You might be a Jaws. Is your real name Bruce, but everyone refuses to call you that? You might be a Jaws. Are you turning 40 this year? You might be a Jaws.

There's not much to be said about Jaws that hasn't already been documented in the four decades since its release. After all, it's the film that ended up coining the term "blockbuster," given its predilection for causing movie-goers to line up around he block. Tellingly, though, Jaws only contained one explosion. I'm looking at you, Michael Bay.

Though, really, let's not give Steven Spielberg too much credit. Famously, the shark puppet known as Bruce was incredibly unreliable, thus necessitating its absence for large portions of the movie. This proved to be a happy accident, though, as the shark being unseen allowed Jaws to work up a little bit of suspense. Later, J.J. Abrams would try and do this, via homage to Spielberg, with Super 8, and it would just be a spider monster. As it turns out, the real life danger of sharks is more bone-chilling than a make-believe spider monster.

With Jaws hitting its 40th Anniversary, I think it's important to reflect on the ways in Jaws has impacted the world of blockbusters. While Jaws famously was the first blockbuster, it destroyed box offices via word of mouth and the strength of its narrative. Since then, blockbusters have latched on to the idea of spectacle, which has weakened the quality of summer movies, as a whole. This is why crap like Green Lantern gets trotted out as a tent pole, but better movies get relegated to the wastelands of the winter and spring months.

Forty years after its release, Jaws remains a paragon of populist entertainment that still satisfies as a popcorn-munching bit of film history. To accomplish both at once is an achievement that few other than Spielberg can claim to have done. The Fox Theatre in Centralia will be celebrating this anniversary with a showing of the film.

Fox Theatre, Saturday, August 22, 2-7 p.m., 123 S. Tower Ave., Centralia, 360.623.1103

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