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Jaws : Metaphor of a Serial Killer

How could one speak of men and sharks without mentioning the story that has been bonding them for the last 30 years : Jaws, a perfect example of anthropomorphism.

In a society that has expelled all the threats at its boarders, which has made violence become abstract, a ferocious beast comes up from the abyss to stalk peacefull holidaygoers.

Fear, at last, has a face that one can visualize. Ironically, Man feels threatened by an animal on the brink of extinction.

True, a white symbol death, cold and mechanic, can at any anytime interrupt innocents swimmers lives. It can stalk anywhere (in shore or offshore), at any time (day or night). It can attack anyone (men, women, children and even domestic animals). Doesn’t it remind you of someone else ? The beach is a metaphor of urban no man’s lands. A beach is a Society in transit which lays its differences like a towel. The perimeter of the towel resembles the fences of those small suburban houses. The family close by resembles those neighbours that we see all year long, but that we hardly know. Our neighbours are anonymous and won’t be of any help if a danger threatens us. We are alone in the middle of a crowd, like preys on a train platform. Everybody knows this, populations in transit are the prime target of blind and anonymous killers. A cheetah will only kill one impala at a time, but the whole herd is its prey. As a result the whole herd feels a little nervous.

The threat is permanent, omnipresent because it cannot be confined. Being nowhere it is everywhere. The risk is small, but this small probability is compensated by the very nature of this risk : being sliced and eaten alive. The price to pay seems even higher because the risk is small. One can notice that the this description fits perfectly the portrait of the ideal killer. It is a white male. He is solitary and its jaws are covered with seven rows of pointy teeth. He is called the great white, which he is, but only seen from below. He haunts the blue of our psyche and lives in the depths of our unconsciousness. His back, on the contrary to its belly, is black like the abyss. Its teeth are the hidden memory of ancient days when our skin was permanently at risk of being cut open. They are the proof of a frailty which is essential to us, of a fear which will always be there, at hand, like a kitchen knife. Maybe the great white is somehow reassuring, like those serial killers whose number remains stable despite our growing interest for them. As long as we will be scared of him, we won’t beware of our own selves and he will remain the only victim of an adult fairy tale in which he should play no part. The supposedly killing machine is in fact the victim. 

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