Apocalyptic Fears: Personal Reflection

As I began researching a topic, I began to think about the things that I liked to watch, specifically movies and TV shows. One thing that intrigued me was the thought of the apocalypse and those types of sci-fi topics. Even though everything in sci-fi is completely imaginative, it is still a topic that apparently intrigues a large population because more and more TV shows are coming out with this theme.

Even as a young boy, I loved watching movies, whether it’s a comedy, horror, or action/adventure. To this day, my friends and family always know that if they are thinking of a movie but can’t remember the title, they can probably ask me and I will know. It’s funny looking back on all the movies and shows that I have watched throughout my life thus far. But, I have noticed a theme; when I want to watch a scary or interesting movie, I tend to go for the apocalyptic movies.

For instance, I used to watch Waterworld as a kid, which is about a post-apocalyptic world that is based on a global warming issue. It is interesting because I could always imagine myself in another world, a new world. So, early on that new world meant anywhere but at this time on earth. Whether it is a post-apocalyptic earth setting or that the earth was wiped out so a new planet needs to be inhabited.

The movie, Time Machine is another good one. It’s about a guy whose fiancée got murdered right after proposing to her in a park, the murderer was trying to rob them. He develops this time machine many years later and travels back in time, only to find out that he can’t change her dying. In the midst of his distress, he accidently shifts forward into the future many centuries and finds himself in a world run by “moon people” who are trying to capture humans. As a kid, this was a frightening concept, moon people, but regardless it was fascinating.

In my researching a topic, I thought about the new movies and TV shows that I have watched recently: Helix, 12 Monkeys, Book of Eli, World War Z, even Planet of the Apes. All of these movies and shows reveal a world of desolation, whether it’s a virus outbreak, or Apes running the earth. I am currently hooked on the show, Helix, which is about a viral outbreak in a small population that if not stopped, could lead to a world epidemic. Do I think this could happen? No. But, it is interesting to think about, because there are so many diseases and drugs that could potentially wipe out a large portion of our planet.

So, needless to say, my topic is very interesting to me. My many years of watching movies and being fascinated with sci-fi concepts seemed to pay off. I personally believe that the apocalypse will happen according to God’s plan, but I do think that it is possible that some people could think that they can structure God’s plan around creating a virus that could devastate a large portion of the world. I am not naïve to the fact that, in the wrong hands, certain things could influence an apocalyptic world. Nuclear Weapons are another category to get into regarding this apocalyptic possibility, but that’s for someone else to write about.

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Class Archive

As I was looking through some of the previous blog posts, and remembering others throughout the year, one thing I noticed, and realized a few others also noticed, was the great variety of topics that we as a class have covered.  Blog posts have ranged from Egyptian funerary practices to sports technology to digital aspirin.  With our class wrapping up, and all of us exploring incredibly diverse topics for our final papers, I wanted to look back on one of the first topics we were all charged to write about—artifact politics—, and analyze how we all took a very different perspective on how to write about this topic.  I also wanted to look at one of the topics a classmate has chosen for his/her final paper—cinema.

Earlier in the year, we discussed how an artifact can have a certain political dimension after reading the work by Langdon Winner, and tasked with choosing an artifact and writing about its political dimensions.  I remember that I chose a gun, partly because I felt that it could have both democratic and authoritarian aspects when put into specific hands.  When going through all of the other posts about artifact politics, I couldn’t help but be amazed by the astounding diversity of topics we as a class chose.  Two posts that specifically interested me were about GPS and the pen.  The post about GPS really interested me because I had never fully realized all of the information wireless service providers, and even the government, had on us, which I believe to be an invasion of privacy.  The post about the pen also interested me because I never really thought about how influential, yet simple, an object a pen is.  I guess the saying “the pen is mightier than the sword” really is true.

Now to talk about one specific topic, which is cinema.  One student is choosing to write about cinema for his/her final paper, and this caught my eye because I have always had a special interest in movies.  I even considered writing about movies for my final paper, but ultimately  I have always been fascinated by the fact that two hours of film has the ability to change a person’s life.  Take The Wolf of Wall Street for example, a movie about a big-time executive on Wall Street during the 1980’s named Jordan Belfort.  After this movie hit theaters, many teenagers and college kids decided they wanted to major in business or finance so they could live the wild lifestyle shown in the movie.  One thing I enjoyed about this student’s post was how he/she evaluated the history of cinema, starting with a photograph and now today having CGI effects.  We discussed cinema in my communications class, and this student was basically spot-on when describing the history of movies.  I also like how the student described the evolution of film as an art form, from realism to surrealism.  One thing I would have liked for this student to include in his/her post is an analysis on the social impact cinema has had on society, particularly the United States.

In conclusion, I believe that we as a class have really developed a great blog site that analyzes various technologies and their different functions.  I hope that students in the future will look at this site and perhaps use it as a resource, or simply inspiration, for their own work.

Comments on Artificial Intelligence Posts: An Archive from Konno8

There are many great and interesting points brought up about Artificial Intelligence within these blogs. Many of these points speak on the effects that some Artificial Intelligence may bring in the future. These possible effects can be both good and bad. I’m going to analyze a few of these points and share some of my thoughts on the topic.

“You may not realize it, but artificial intelligence is everywhere.” This is a great point and one in which I completely agree with. At a basic level, Artificial Intelligence is technology created by humans, that has human like qualities. For example, things like being able to make decisions or recognizing speech may be considered Artificial Intelligence. Many technologies in the modern age have these qualities.

The idea of Artificial Intelligence in movies is another interesting topic. I think it’s important here to realize that most of this stuff is highly fictional and will not likely exist in the near future. At the same time, however, it’s exciting to think about AI in the present and the possibilities we have for AI in the future. I’d also like to comment on the possibilities of AI for good vs. bad, or the fears that it brings upon people. The good plays in where AI is able to do things for humans, often times much faster and more efficiently. This can be seen in financial technology, often making decisions for humans and taking some of the work out of their hands. AI also allows us to learn new things, and provides us with endless hours of enjoyment. This is seen through AI in video games. A new movie came out called Chappie, which involves a future where crime is controlled by a set of mechanized police. When one of them is stolen and given new programming, however, it allows him to be able to actually feel emotion and think for himself. I think this is one of the biggest worries that humans may have about robots and Artificial Intelligence in general. It’s crazy to watch movies like this and imagine that technology could go so far as to be able to have real emotions. At the same time, if technology we create can think for itself, what control do we have at that point? Also, what would stop them from doing things for themselves or even taking over the world? These ideas are interesting to explore, and this is really where the idea of fear plays in with Artificial Intelligence. For me, this doesn’t seem like it would ever be possible, but obviously I can’t predict the future.

So again, the possibilities of Artificial Intelligence in the future seem to be endless. We have no idea about the exact future of this technology. However, we can fantasize about some of these possibilities, and it often seems like AI could make the world much more productive and in many ways easier. At the same time though, people like to think about the bad side of AI, and many of the fears that come from these possibilities. Artificial Intelligence is exciting, and I can’t wait to see some of the changes that will come in the future.

https://newwritingtechnogenesis.wordpress.com/tag/artificial-intelligence/

Personal Research Reflection of Artificial Intelligence

As humans, we are influenced by a great multitude of things that can vary differently.  They can be abstract, such as dreams or ideas.  They can also be concrete, such as a beautiful landscape or a bustling city.  We are also influenced in many different ways.  We can be influenced both positively and negatively.  We can be influenced both consciously and subconsciously.  Many different influences have led me to write a research paper about artificial intelligence, and this blog post will describe these many influences.

Ever since I can remember, I have always had a fondness for movies.  I love how a director is able to capture a whole storyline in only a couple of hours.  Many of the movies I especially cherish are sci-fi action movies, such as Star WarsTerminator, and recently the new Avengers movies.  While these are only a few examples of such movies, they all serve a point for this post—they all include some form of artificial intelligence.  In Star Wars, the audience is introduced to C-3PO, a humanoid robot that assists the rebels.  The cyborgs in Terminator are sent from the future to kill Sarah Connor and her son.  Avengers has Iron Man’s artificial intelligence, named Jarvis, assist him with tech development, and the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron will see the team square off against a form of artificial intelligence in Ultron, who is attempting to eliminate the human race.  What has always intrigued me about these movies is that humans either have to rely upon something that is clearly not human, as such is the case with Star Wars, or destroy a technology that man originally made to help the human race.

In the Midwest of the United States, I have lived a pretty privileged life compared to others around the globe.  I have almost everything I want, especially when it comes to technology.  The artificial intelligence I use everyday, including my iPhone, laptop, and even my calculator would be seen as prized possessions, even rarities, in other parts of the world.  This is perhaps why I take a very conservative approach when it comes to artificial intelligence.  While others may view it as something that is spiraling out of control, perhaps one day leading to our extinction, I am unable to see it in this light.  My artificial intelligence helps me in so many ways everyday that I cannot imagine what it would be like to be without it.

One of the first real experiences I can remember with artificial intelligence was the first GPS my parents bought.  I remember being fascinated by how the device knew where our car was at all times.  I tried to think of how this was even remotely possible, not yet understanding the power satellites have in our world.  I remember asking it for close restaurants, and being astounded when a list of over twenty restaurants popped up on the screen.  I thought that it was the coolest invention ever.  Now that we live in an age where there seems to be nothing our smartphones can’t do, I don’t get that same feeling of wonderment I used to.  Though I do believe all of the great technological innovations engineers are making with artificial intelligence are great, they do not give me the same sense of wonderment as the GPS did because I have come to expect these innovations.

In conclusion, I first became interested in artificial intelligence through the many movies I watched growing up.  My first real memory of fascination with a physical source of artificial intelligence was my parents’ GPS.   Finally, because of my upbringing, I perhaps do not have some of the same reservations about the future of artificial intelligence that people from other parts of the country, even the world, do.

Artificial Intelligence in Movies

There are a few motifs that have been prevalent in science fiction/action movies in the past couple decades.  These topics include post-apocalypse, such as nuclear warfare or zombies, superheroes, and artificial intelligence.  Artificial intelligence is defined as “the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages” (1).  In this post I will describe three different examples of artificial intelligence in movies—TerminatorAvengers: Age of Ultron, and Wall-E.  I chose these three movies because while most movies tend to focus on the fears associated with artificial intelligence, like those fears that come to life in Terminator and Avengers: Age of Ultron, the movie Wall-E shows the good that artificial intelligence can do for the human race and the Earth in general.

Two movies that portray the very negative direction that artificial intelligence has the possibility of heading in a semi-realistic setting are Avengers: Age of Ultron and Terminator.  Avengers: Age of Ultron sees the Avengers team of superheroes face off against the robot Ultron.  Ultron is a robotic technology developed to help the human race; however, Ultron begins to think that the best way to help the human race is to destroy it.  Terminator sees a cyborg sent from the future that tries to kill a mother and her young child.  This cyborg, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger,  is sent back by a robotic race that has taken over Earth. The computer program that developed into the robotic race was originally designed to help the human race by being an overarching program that controls all of the world’s technology and weapons.  While both of these movies are slightly fantastical, they both are clear representations of people’s fears towards artificial intelligence and technology in general.

One movie that goes against the mold and portrays artificial intelligence in a positive light is Wall-E.  In this movie, the robot Wall-E is tasked with cleaning the Earth after the human race has destroyed it due to littering and not respecting the Earth in general.  Wall-E has a deep fascination with human culture, and tries to do whatever he can to become slightly more human.  He continues to clean the Earth, even though humans have not inhabited the planet for hundreds of years.  Instead of a form of artificial intelligence that actively tries to harm humans, Wall-E tries to save them.

In conclusion, the movies Terminator and Avengers: Age of Ultron both demonstrate the fears associated with artificial intelligence.  Many people fear that A.I. can become too smart for its own good, and start to eliminate human beings so that the Earth can be safe.  However, the movie Wall-E shows the good artificial intelligence has the chance to do, though it is in a fictional world.  The main thing the disparity in these movies show is the direction that artificial intelligence has the possibility of heading.  It can either help the human race or destroy it.  Only time will tell which direction this exciting technology will head.

Works Cited

(1) http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/artificial%20intelligence

The Exaggeration of Television and Movies

Zachary Konno

COMPSTD 2367.04

Seth Josephson

March 11, 2015

As humans, we look to various sorts of media in order to entertain ourselves.  Some play video games to escape from everyday life.  Some listen to music to feel all sorts of different emotions.  Still others read books to take off to fantasy worlds where the trials and tribulations of their own lives can melt away.  However, the most popular forms of media, especially for Americans, are television and movies.  This essay will discuss both of these media because they are very similar, as they are both audiovisual sources of media.  Although many television shows and movies try to rely on realism or plausibility to draw in audiences, many exaggerate what the scenario would actually be like in real life.  This essay will focus on the media of television and movies, the exaggeration that both of these use, and how the use of exaggeration can have a negative impact on the mass audience, while focusing on a specific genre and how this genre relates to the use of exaggeration as a whole.

Movies and television are audiovisual forms of media that are loved by audiences of all ages.  By today’s standards, they are the ultimate form of entertainment, bringing in billions of dollars every year.  Actors and actresses are some of the most famous people on the planet and are adored by countless people.  Movies as a medium transform human life in multiple ways.  They allow people to take on the thoughts of the lead character, forgetting about their own lives for a short while.  In the case of movies set in the past, Moller (2011) says, “It is not enough to simply call a medium of cultural memory, such as a movie, a representation of the past…” (p. 67).  They do more than represent the past—they bring it to life.  Movies also are a way to bring about social change.  Films such as American Sniper and Precious both are examples of how a film can change the way society views the world, with the former bringing more attention to the military and those soldiers affected by PTSD and the latter bringing more attention to the millions living in poverty throughout the United States.  Movies can often bring about political change.  Room (1988) writes, “In the years before Prohibition, the movies had been seen as major supports for the temperance cause” (p. 12).  Television as a medium can transform human life too.  When it is actually used on a television, advertising during commercial breaks can cause many viewers to buy a specific product.  Commercials can often take on a political agenda as well, showcasing campaign ads for city council members to prospective Presidents of the United States.  Langdon Winner (1980) says in his article Do Artifacts Have Politics? that either technology can be created for political outcomes, or political agenda can use established technology to bring about favor for a certain candidate (p. 122).  Product placement and brand name mentions also contribute to the political agenda of a movie or television program.  Secondly, when television programs are viewed on streaming services, such as Netflix, it allows the viewer to “binge-watch”, or watch multiple episodes in a row.  This can lead to sleep deprivation, lower grades, or even dehydration at times.

One ploy that many movies and television programs use is to base them off of “real life events.”  Viewers will watch these specific programs or movies because they feel as if the events can happen to them in real life.  They feel some sort of rush from this, whether it is the sheer terror of a “real life events” horror movie or the adrenaline-rushing gun fight in the story of a real policeman.  These exaggerations can do injustice to the people who actually had to live through these circumstances, especially if one’s rise to fame went through hardships not explicitly expressed in the movie or television program.  Exaggeration can also spill into movies or television programs that, though, are not based on real life events, could possibly happen under the right circumstances.  This term is referred to as “realistic fiction.”  One television genres that uses exaggeration, under the context of realistic fiction, is medical television shows.  This genre will be explored in the coming paragraphs.

As explained before, one genre of television that utilizes exaggeration, under the context of realistic fiction, is medical television shows.  Medical television shows put the viewer into the heart of a hospital, following the lives of doctors, nurses, surgeons, and other personnel both in and outside of work.  Since the shows are not set in some fantasy world or dystopian future, the viewer is led to believe that what happens in these shows could very well, and might, happen in real life.  Once the groundwork for a “believable” setting has been established, producers, directors, and writers can toy with the facts of specific diseases, procedures, and everyday life of a hospital, having blatant incorrect details of information.  One example of this type of program that greatly exaggerates everyday life in a hospital is ER.  ER is set in the emergency room of the fictional County General Hospital in Chicago, Illinois.  While this show does focus on the emergency room of the hospital, where more life-threatening injuries are treated, the degree and amount of injuries is highly disproportional.  “ER, for instance, was about the heroic things doctors do to save lives, and every episode was rife with calamity,” writes Joanna Weiss (2009, para. 4).  This is simply not the case with most emergency rooms.  Many patients that come through the ER are not in any sort of life-threatening state.  They are simply there because they feel some sort of discomfort, big or small, that needs attention faster than that would be provided by scheduling an appointment, or a cut or bruise that needs quick attention.  ER makes it seem as if every patient who comes through the doors of an emergency room has a gunshot wound to the chest or a metal spike protruding from a leg.  Granted, this show is based in Chicago, where the crime rate and urban atmosphere are likely to result in more serious injuries; however, the amount of serious injuries is still absurd.

Another medical television program that relies on these same principles of exaggeration and incorrectness, set within a believable setting, is House. House, often referred to as House M.D., follows Dr. Gregory House, a medical genius who leads a team of doctors at the fictional Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital in New Jersey.  One way House is guilty of having incorrect facts is through the use of made-up diseases.  “Even though all medical dramas have at least one doctor advising the script-writers,” writes Farrimond (2011), “they are still be pretty liberal with the truth” (para. 26).  Since the viewer is most likely not a medical expert, he/she will not be able to tell if the disease is made-up or true.  Many times, producers and writers will prey upon this unknowing of the audience, making up certain diseases that have sensational, often ghastly, side effects.  This is where the exaggeration portion of the program comes in.  Dr. House is forced to exert all of his medical genius to solve the case of the rare and deadly disease, usually minutes or even seconds before the patient dies. This is simply not the case in hospitals.  Doctors upon first examination, or after a few basic tests, can determine what illness the patient is suffering from.  Another way House has incorrect facts is by the myth that doctors do everything.  Using sarcasm, Farrimond (2011) writes, “Not only do Doctors have IQs off the scale and can diagnose and treat any condition; but they are also experts in operating MRI scanners, analyzing blood samples in the lab and performing complex surgery!”  Doctors heavily rely on the work of lab technicians, nurses, and surgeons.  It is completely ludicrous to believe that doctors could fit in the time to do all of these jobs, as well as the time it takes to work with the patient.

A third example of a medical television program that similarly uses exaggeration and incorrectness is Grey’s Anatomy.  Grey’s Anatomy is set in the Seattle Grace Hospital in Settle, Washington.  One way in which Grey’s Anatomy uses exaggeration is through the use of many calamitous injuries.  Similarly to ER, Grey’s Anatomy has a high disproportional rate for the amount of urgent injuries or diseases.  A large amount of patients that come in have been in serious accidents that need immediate surgery.  While this show may not utilize exaggeration as much as shows like ER, it utilizes many different examples of incorrectness.  One example of incorrectness Grey’s Anatomy has is the treatment their doctors suggest for multiple diseases.  Grey’s Anatomy has the doctors suggest uncommon, untested, or at times made up treatments for multiple diseases.  This is done to sensationalize the show, making it seem like the patient has a 50/50 chance of pulling through.  A second example of incorrectness this show has it the professionals’ disregard for protocol.  The doctors in this show often times go behind their bosses backs if they think they are correct in treating a patient.  They may also do this without the family’s consent, or even without the patient’s approval.  A third example of incorrectness prevalent in this show is the amount of relationships between doctors.  Farrimond (2011) writes, “…the hospital has been transformed from a bad-smelling institution for the sick to a hip and modern Club 18-30!”  In between shifts, there are always doctors, surgeons, and nurses in the show “hooking up” in break rooms, which rarely to never happens in real life.  Weiss (2009) writes that Grey’s Anatomy is “…a torrid romance novel disguised as a medical show.”  Additionally, many interns have relationships with higher-ups in the hospital, which is taboo in real life and very rarely happens.

One medical television show, however, that is actually fairly accurate is Scrubs.  Scrubs follows a doctor by the name of J.D. at Sacred Heart Hospital.  One way in which Scrubs accurately portrays hospital are the specialty stereotypes.  In the show, the surgeons are jocks, the doctors are nerds, and the psychologists are very sensitive.  This is actually very representative of how people in different professions in hospitals are actually like.  Secondly, Scrubs accurately portrays how it is for a doctor or surgeon to perform a procedure for the first time.  In the series premiere, J.D. hides in a broom closet with his friend Elliott as they hide from a code, or an emergency with a patient.  When J.D. finally does have to respond to an emergency with a patient, he messes up and has to ask for assistance from one of the veteran nurses.  Thirdly, the relationships in Scrubs are a lot more realistic than those of the likes of Grey’s Anatomy.  In Scrubs, you often see residents and residents in a relationship or interns and interns.  Rarely do you see the “lower” workers in relationships with the chiefs of staff or head surgeon.  The fourth and final way in which Scrubs is a more accurate depiction of a hospital is the competition between doctors or surgeons for a promotion.  Many episodes will feature a an intern brown-nosing a physician, often to get better patients, better hours, or a recommendation to be promoted.  All in all, Scrubs is a much better depiction of a hospital because it does not try to sensationalize it.  Sure, every once and a while there will be a patient with a life-threatening disease or injury; however, Scrubs focuses on the lives of doctors when they are not caring for a patient.  It focuses on them as they themselves go through the daily grind of being a doctor, from catching up on sleep in the break room after a grueling 18-hour shift or eating lunch in the cafeteria.  Scrubs is different because it does not try too hard, unlike other medical shows.

There are many ways in which the exaggeration and incorrectness of medical television shows has a harmful effect on viewers.  Similarly to how McLuhan (1967) believes that a form of media can shape the mass media, which can then lead to group thinking (p.9), the media of medical television shows can have the same effect.  They can cause viewers to believe that what is shown on the program is actually what happens in a hospital in real life.  They can expect to be rushed to the emergency room when they have a problem, when it actually takes almost an hour for a person to be seen by a doctor.  People who go into the medical field may think there will be action around every turn, when much of a doctor’s work is patient care and analyzing charts.  Viewers may believe that the treatments they see on these programs actually work, trying these on themselves and harming themselves in the process.  Finally, they may believe that doctors do everything in a hospital, leading to MRI technicians and nurses to be undervalued.

In conclusion, medical television programs, such as ER and House, are just one example of a genre of television or movies that uses exaggeration and incorrectness for a more sensationalized viewing experience.  The producers and writers of these shows are only looking at ratings or ticket sales, never thinking of the negative impact these programs or movies can have on the minds of viewers and the mass audience as a whole.  As society begins to rapidly move to a completely digital way of life, making the transmission of ideas much faster and easier, hopefully those in charge of these media of entertainment being to realize how great of an impact they have on society as a whole, and will work towards making this a positive impact instead of a negative one.

Works Cited

Farrimond, S. (2011, January 19). The top 10 medical TV myths. Retrieved from

http://realdoctorstu.com/2011/01/19/the-top-10-medical-tv-myths/

McLuhan, M. (1967). The medium is the massage. United Kingdom: Penguin Books.

Moller, S. (2011). Blockbusting history: Forrest Gump as a powerful medium of American

cultural memory.  International Social Science Journal, 62(203-204), 67-77.

http://web.a.ebscohost.com.proxy.lib.ohio-state.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=b07ad

2b-4339-49af-b00d-8fb2db356d0c%40sessionmgr4002&vid=1&hid=4204

Room, R. (1988). The Movies and the wettening of America: The media as amplifiers of

cultural change.  British Journal of Addiction, 83, 11-18.

http://web.b.ebscohost.com.proxy.lib.ohio-state.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=

b327d4f0-a5ad-4f0a-b629-3c9db8fc05dd%40sessionmgr115&vid=1&hid=118

Weiss, J. (2009, May 6). Scrubs: Goofy, cartoonish, and the most accurate portrayal of the

Medical profession on TV. Retrieved from

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2009/05/scrubs.html

Winner, L. (1980). Do Artifacts Have Politics? Daedalus, 109, 122.

http://innovate.ucsb.edu/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Winner-Do-Artifacts-Have-Politics-1980.pdf

Movies as a Medium: Jaws

As a medium, film is an extremely powerful tool, but how powerful can it be? Throughout the years there have been movies and television programs produced all over the world, and many of those productions have been viewed by millions of people. One of those movies was the 1975 film Jaws. Based on the 1974 novel of the same name, Jaws is the story of a small town called Amity with a killer shark in the water, and the journey of three men who aim to kill that shark. Those men are Brody, the town sheriff; Quint, a local fisherman; and Hooper, a scientist from the Oceanographic Institute. The release of Jaws had an enormous impact on American society, and it continues to have an impact today. This terrifying story completely altered peoples’ view of the ocean. Jaws had a great impact as a movie for several reasons. Jaws was a great thriller movie, which caused it to be viewed by millions of people. On top of this, at the time that Jaws was released, people did not know enough about sharks to know how completely exaggerated the movie was. In addition, Jaws managed to glorify shark fishing, causing a decrease in shark populations on the coast of the US.

As a movie, Jaws employs several techniques in order to make the story thrilling. Movies are able to utilize both sight and sound, making it easier to affect people emotionally. Jaws utilizes the sense of sound through its music. Everyone knows the main theme song of Jaws. Those two deep notes alternating back and forth, slowly at first, then speeding up and becoming more powerful. Next come a few high-pitched, irregular minor chords. The two underlying notes almost sound like a saw scraping back and forth against something. As a saw moves one direction it produces a different note than it does going the opposite direction. John Williams, the composer of the music featured in Jaws, said, “It had the effect of grinding away, coming at you, just as a shark would do, instinctual, relentless, unstoppable” (Andrews 60). The ostinato sounds habitual and mindless, just as the movie portrays the shark to be. On top of that, the irregular minor chords also are inherently frightening. Nonlinear sounds such as the minor chords and other high pitched sounds used in the song sound similar to the shriek of an infant or a baby animal, which causes humans to respond with negative emotions or fear (Blumstein, Bryant, and Kaye). Hearing those chords brings out a fear that is biologically ingrained in humans. Together the ostinato, the high-pitched sounds, and the minor chords successfully instill fear in the viewer.

In addition to sound, movies also are able to use film as a way of communication. The most important aspect of film is that it is able to tell a story in a way one picture alone never could. They are able to show how a situation changes over time. Jaws uses several useful tools to make the film more frightening.  The first is the use of the dark. The dark is something that people naturally fear. “There are good reasons to have an instinctive fear of the dark. In our history, before civilization, the world was a scary place. There were many predators that hunted at night. In a very real sense, there were monsters out there. The world in which our ancestors lived was perilous” (“The Basics of Evolution”). This is why many of the scenes in Jaws, like the opening scene where the first victim goes swimming, take place during the night. In addition, there is less visibility in the dark. The viewer may not know right away where the shark is located, and therefore they cannot tell whether or not the characters are safe. This makes the night scenes more suspenseful.

Another technique in Jaws that creates suspense is how the attacks are timed. When the shark is on its way, the audience is aware: however, they do not know who the shark will take. Much of the suspense in the movie is built that way. In the scene where the shark arrives in the pond where Brody’s son is swimming, the audience knows that the shark is going there, and they also know that Brody’s son is in the water. Despite this, the audience must wait several minutes before finding out the fate of the boy. These types of scenes use the extended amount of time to make the audience feel fear for the characters involved. At the same time, the film also uses the opposite as a means to shock the audience. When Brody, Hooper, and Quint are hunting the shark, there is a scene where Brody is standing by the edge of the boat, when suddenly the shark jumps out of the water just next to him. Since there is no warning before this happens, it successfully shocks the audience. Those types of sudden movements as well as suspenseful scenes are part of the reason Jaws was so successful as a thriller.

While the music and the film itself are both important, the way the music interacts with the film is also important. The most important feature of movies as a medium is the fact that with movies, sound and film can work together to produce a certain effect. The music and images in Jaws are a very successful example of that. In the movie, the theme music was very specifically used as a signal to let the audience know that the shark is present. Each time that the shark was coming, the theme music played. This was used to give certain clues during the movie. For example, in the scene where two boys try to create panic on the beach using a cardboard shark fin, the theme music does not play. Because the viewer expects the music to accompany the fin, it instills a sense of curiosity in the viewer. Later on in the film, when the three men are in the boat with the shark swimming around below, the music does not need to play because the shark is already known to be present, which makes it that much more of a shock when the shark does jump out of the water (John Williams Talks about ‘Jaws’). It is in that way that the visual aspects of the movie and the music along with it can work together to create a suspenseful film.

In order to make the story a little more interesting, there were a few not so subtle exaggerations in Jaws. To start, the shark in Jaws is a great white, and it is 25 feet long. That is extremely large for a great white, since the average size of a female is 16 feet, while the average size of a male is only 12 feet. On top of that, the shark in the movie is incredibly strong. It manages to break into a shark cage by ramming its face into the bars, and it also is able to swim deep below the surface of the water after multiple barrels have been attached to it. Beyond that, the shark is constantly making an effort to attack people throughout the movie, as well as actually swallowing human flesh. The fact of the matter is that humans are not on the menu for great white sharks. Great whites have taste buds, so they usually take a test bite of something, taste it to see if it’s a good meal, and if it does not like the taste, it will spit it back out and move on (“Taste”).  This is what makes the attacks in Jaws so unusual. In the movie, the people who are attacked are killed immediately and eaten by the shark, while in reality, people typically die of blood loss after the attack. In addition, a great white would not be hunting humans. The movie features a shark that is actively trying to break into a shark cage to eat a man and jumping onto the back of a boat to eat people. This is a ridiculous idea. A shark does not have the capacity to work towards a revenge against its hunters in that way.

In 1975, people knew very little about sharks. To them, what was shown in Jaws was realistic or even a decent representation of what sharks are. Because of the fact that people had little or no exposure to sharks, this movie played a big role in affecting the way people look at sharks.  To fully understand how Jaws has affected society, it is helpful to view it as an archive of feelings, a concept from Ann Cvetkovich’s An Archive of Feelings. While Jaws is a fictional film, it still remains a part of the archive of feelings on sharks as a species. This movie documents a time where sharks were viewed as monsters. “Although sharks certainly have a fearsome reputation nowadays, incredibly, ‘at the turn of the 20th century, there was this perception that sharks had never attacked a human being,’ said George Burgess, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research in Gainesville. ‘There was even a reward offered if someone could prove they were bitten by a shark — money that was never collected’” (Burgess LiveScience). It was not until the 20th century that shark accidents started becoming common, and over time they have become more and more common. This is due to the fact that each year, not only are there more people in the ocean, but they are also spending more time in the ocean. Another piece of the shark archive is the information collected about the Jersey shore shark accidents of 1916. Although Peter Benchley, the author of the Jaws novel, denies the connection, the accidents that occurred in 1916 are the only series of accidents that bear any resemblance to the accidents portrayed in Jaws (“Corrections”). During that series of accidents, five people were injured, and four of those people died. This was the only documented occurrence of a series of shark accidents, and it is the only series of accidents similar to those portrayed in Jaws.

It was during those 1916 accidents that negative language surrounding sharks began to appear. That language was very similar to the language used in Jaws and it continues to be used by much of the population today. When talking about racism, Cvetkovich said, “Everyday forms of racism, many of which are institutional or casual and thus don’t always appear visible except to those who are attuned to them, are among the effects of longer histories of racial trauma” (6). While people’s feelings towards sharks are not the same as racism, it is very similar. There is an underlying hate that causes people to talk about sharks the way they do. Newspapers of the time as well as the Jaws movie call sharks “man-eaters.” The phrase “shark infested water” is also a common phrase despite the fact that the ocean is the natural habitat of the shark. People also frequently use the phrase “shark attack” even when no one was injured. “…our research showed that 20 percent of reported shark attacks in the Australian state of New South Wales did not involve any injury to the bather” (Neff). While this type of language is used out of fear and desire to grab attention, it results in a systematic oppression of an entire species.

While the movie initially caused a fear of sharks, it ended up having a more complicated effect than that. Another initial effect that it had was that it caused more people to go fishing for sharks. “…what happened when the book and the movie Jaws came out in the 1970s. It spawned a huge upswing in recreational fishing for sharks with fishing tournaments. There was this collective testosterone rush that occurred on the East Coast of the United States following those events because every guy wanted to go out and catch a shark, have his picture taken with his foot on the head of a shark and have a shark jaw hanging up in his house” (Burgess Smithsonian). This was a serious contribution to the overfishing of sharks in the late 70’s and 80’s. It is estimated that between 20-100 million sharks are killed by humans each year. After the shark population was sufficiently damaged, scientists realized that sharks are a very important part of the underwater ecosystem. Because of this combined with society’s newfound interest in sharks, funding for shark research increased dramatically. Before, there was no funding for sharks because they were viewed only as pests that eat the fish that fishermen wanted to catch. Now, much more is known about sharks, and public interest in sharks remains strong. This interest is the reason that there are things like Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, and that there have been more than 50 shark movies released since Jaws.

After the release of Jaws, shark populations off the coast of the US took a big hit, and sharks continue to suffer at human hands. In addition, funding for shark research has increased, and public interest in sharks has increased. These have been the result of only one movie. Jaws was an amazing thriller movie, and it is a classic, but no one could have known what a large effect that it would have on the world. This just goes to show that movies are an incredibly powerful tool that can shape the way people view the world.


Works Cited

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Cvetkovich, Ann. An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2003. Print.

“John Williams Talks about ‘Jaws'” YouTube. YouTube, 26 Apr. 2011. Web. 03 Mar. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQKLJ2MuHvY&gt;.

Neff, Christopher. Interviewed by Emily Shenk. “How Should We Respond When Humans and Sharks Collide?” National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 04 July 2013. Web. 02 Mar. 2015.

“Taste.” The Shark Trust. The Shark Trust, n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2015. <http://www.sharktrust.org/en/taste&gt;.