Monday, July 06, 2020

A Bigger Boat

I watched Jaws with my son on Father's Day. Perhaps not the most peculiar choice, especially when you consider the fact that poor parenting decisions allowed him to miss seeing the godfather of all summer blockbusters. I aimed to make this better for him.
And if, for some obscure reason all your own, you have managed to avoid seeing this quintessential Steven Spielberg feature, it could be that some of what I am about to relate might sail right past you. Like a shark on its way to bigger prey. Or perhaps now would be an excellent time to click on over to the streaming service of your choice and spend the necessary two hours and four minutes it takes to digest this bit of Americana.
Maybe you'll just want to take my word for this: Mayor Vaughn of Amity, played by Murray Hamilton, is the anticipation of what would become our current "president." A stuffed shirt with a predilection for ugly blazers decorated with naval anchors, this is a chief executive who shines primarily as a beacon on his community's economy. He is made aware that there is a killer shark prowling the shores of his town but he insists that the beaches stay open. The Fourth of July is coming, and no "boating accident" is going to shut down all that business coming from the mainland. After a few citizens are consumed as a matter of course, an ichthyologist arrives on the scene and lets the local authorities that what they have on their hands is a Great White. A twenty foot eating machine. On the Fourth of July, even with a whole bunch of deputies and lifeguards on hand, the shark makes a meal out of a young boy and his rubber raft in front of all those now less-than-enthusiastic tourists. And a guy in a rowboat. And probably Pippin the dog. It's a pretty gory mess. Not the type of thing that makes for a promotion for seaside fun. At the hospital, as the police chief's son is being cared for after witnessing the slaughter up close and personal, the mother of the raft sandwich shows up and slaps the chief. That's when he decides to do whatever it takes to get rid of the beast that has been plaguing their coast.
In this model, the shark is the virus. The ichthyologist is Doctor Fauci or any one of a number of experts who have tried to reason with the capitalists who are willing to put their neighbors on the buffet table to save their T-shirt shops. I'm going to cast the chief of police as California's governor, Gavin Newsom, because I think he's got a Roy Scheider kind of vibe. The mayor? That one's easy. The guy who continues to insist that the virus will "just go away." The guy who keeps pointing to the stock market and jobs report while thousands of Americans continue to die every single day. Who is going to be the shark hunter for hire? It would be nice to have some sort of happy ending, but since we all know that they made three sequels, things don't look so great. And what's perhaps most telling: Mayor Vaughn is still the mayor in Jaws 2
So, I guess what I'm saying here is vote. Like your life depended on it.

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