In the Teeth of Criticism: 45 Years of Jaws

Morris, Nigel (2020) In the Teeth of Criticism: 45 Years of Jaws. In: The Jaws Book: New Perspectives. Bloomsbury, New York. ISBN UNSPECIFIED

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In the Teeth of Criticism: 45 Years of Jaws

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Abstract

The profitability of Jaws and its director’s subsequent output became, for many, both symbols and causes of an alleged decline from 1970s New American Cinema into blockbuster-driven populism. Spielberg is frequently blamed for terminating the Nixon era’s radical, questioning ‘New Hollywood’; Jaws, one influential commentator claims, ‘changed the business forever’. Critics recognize Jaws’ importance, but typically as a case study in manipulation or as a key ‘high concept film’ that simplistically ‘reflected’ contemporaneous politics, current affairs, and social change. Yet Jaws is now widely acclaimed as a masterpiece and has maintained popularity and international commercial appeal. Its status transcends allegorical reading as a manifestation of American post-Vietnam War unrest or accusations that audiences were duped by advertising and mindlessly followed herd instincts. This chapter traces the evolution of taste judgements and interpretations in the critical response to Jaws. Surveying press reviews alongside readings within the politicized world of Film Studies confirms that emergent middlebrow and Establishment consensus over Spielberg as a quality filmmaker has contrasted, until only recently, with academic denigration of both the film and its director.

Keywords:Steven Spielberg, Hollywood, American cinema, Film criticism, Film theory, Film reviewing, Ideology, horror genre
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P303 Film studies
P Mass Communications and Documentation > P300 Media studies
P Mass Communications and Documentation > P500 Journalism
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Film)
ID Code:38976
Deposited On:25 Nov 2019 09:12

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