The shark in Jaws is the shark of our collective worst nightmares, almost otherworldly in its enormity and texture. It’s also a great big phallic joke, the agent of the blowhard Quint’s destruction. The shark can mean anything you want it to mean, or nothing, and that uncertainty epitomizes this movie’s lasting appeal. Jaws is the pop masterpiece as happy accident; a parody of America’s can-do spirit that’s also, by the end, a celebration of it.
August 15, 2012