Jaws is not a feminist shero

Lunch topics:

  1. Marianism and genital iconography, as in The Virgin Mary is a hairy vagina. Conclusion: this one smells of red herring–she actually belongs to the sun.
  2. The inability of “artists” to fit a proper fanny and a proper face into the same screen. The three best known forerunners of Bob Guccione-style gynaecology, Courbet’s stilled life Origin of the world, Rodin’s foot-signed Iris, messenger of the gods, and Duchamp’s peepshow Étant donnés, all decapitate their subjects. There’s some horrible late Picasso thing out there somewhere which does the same. Courbet does OK in Femme aux bas blancs so there may be hope for him. Perhaps Swedish hardcore pornographer Berth Milton Senior was the first to make a serious attempt at realism when he started Private magazine in 1965. Conclusion: modern art was populated by idealistic totalitarians and post-Freudian fanny=mouth idiots, from whom we were saved by brutish VW salesmen; long live capitalism.
  3. Do sharks tie into this? Was Jaws a roaming, castrating fanny? Brief post-prandial web research throws up The age of sex crime by Jane Caputi, Professor of Women’s Studies and Communication at Florida Atlantic University:

    Elsewhere I have analyzed the underlying structure of Jaws to be the ritual and heroic annihilation of a symbolic female, the monstrous female of male dreams, epitomized by a great white shark. The key image is the shark’s mouth “bristling with teeth,” for that is the characteristic icon of the patriarchal archetype of the “Terrible Mother” and her vagina dentata. The identification of the shark with the bad mother is evident throughout the film, particularly in its choice of victims. Except for the very first victim, all others–indeed anyone who is subsequently threatened by the shark–are boys and men. The action takes place in the ocean, the primal source of life, but this symbolic womb is full of blood, gore, danger, and death. There are graphic scenes of dismembered male limbs, legs falling off into the deep, etc. The trinity of male heroes in Jaws becomes archetypically heroic via their pursuit and annihilation of that most terrible enemy–the castrating female, the terrible, murderous mother of patriarchal nightmare and myth.

    The script of Jaws suggests one minor problem:

    Quint: Get behind me! Hooper! Reverse her! Takin’ a hell of a lotta line! Chief! Get the scooper out of the bucket! Wet the reel! Hooper! Reverse her! Duck your head down chief! We’re swingin’, get behind me again! No more water, it only’ll drown me! Hooper, you idiot! Starboard! Ain’t you watchin’ it?! Hooper, neutral! Where’d he go now? And he ain’t foolin’ me! What’s he makin’ out now? Go on, try it! I don’t know chief, I don’t know. He’s very smart or very dumb. Jesus Chr– He’s gone under. He’s gone under the boat, I think he’s gone under the boat. Yeah, it’s too easy. He’s a smart big fish! He’s gone under the boat! Keep it steady now! I got something very big!
    Hooper: I don’t think so.

    Tomorrow: How can someone who has made a career out of misrepresenting the gender of the world’s best-known shark be employed at a university called Florida Atlantic? What would Hemingway have said?

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