maanantaina, kesäkuuta 11, 2007

Tappajahaista englanniksi

Yliopiston englanninkurssilla pidetty esitelmä, vuosi on -96 tai -97. Huumoriahan tämä on, mutta olen myös tosissani tämän kanssa enkä oikein ikinä naura tällaisille perusfreudilaisille analyyseille. Nauratin tosin läsnäolijoita piirtämällä asiasta kaavion fläppitaululle. Minun olisi pitänyt käsitellä myös Spielbergin elokuvien yleistä piirrettä: naisiin suhtaudutaan sadistisesti tai naiset kuvataan typerinä idiootteina (varsinkin Indiana Jones -elokuvissa) tai yliholhoavina ja ahdistavina. Mutta kaikkea ei voi saada.

Asexual homosexuals conquer the phallic shark!

Steven Spielberg: Jaws, USA 1975.

Steven Spielberg is usually called 'the Walt Disney of modern Hollywood'. This just might be correct regarding the almost asexual atmosphere (or ideology, if you want) that is so clearly visible in the movies of both Disney and Spielberg. Everything from Snow White and Peter Pan to Hook and Jurassic Park is asexual: characters almost struggle to gain this asexuality. The world around them is bad and filled with sexual and instinct drives. For example, the love relation in Spielberg's weeper Always succeeds only after the man's phallic aeroplane crashes down (and after the man dies the woman stays faithful and completely without sexual relations).

What interests me here is the almost homosexual asexuality of Spielberg's first hit movie, Jaws. Its Finnish name is Tappajahai, and it has slowly become a cult classic. It is exciting even now, twenty years from its production: visual effects don't always compensate the slow excitement of Jaws. But this isn't important: I enjoy Jaws (and I must say that I usually don't like Spielberg's films, with the exceptions of Schindler's List and his first film, Duel) but what really interests me is the world of the men in the film.

There are three men in the lead parts: Roy Scheider is the marshall of a small seaside town, Richard Dreyfuss is the scientist and Robert Shaw is the ultramacho shark hunter. There aren't many women in the film, except Scheider's wife, but her role isn't significant. So, Jaws is a men's movie: it tells about men's friendship, about men's struggle, love and hate. The men struggle against the killer shark that haunts the beach people, splitting them in half and eating them.

Now I have to take a little theoretical help here. According to Freudian (and Lacanian and feminist) psychoanalysis, the water represents the feminine element (it is a womb into which everyone - especially men - wants to return). It can't be controlled by man and in it there are many wondrous monsters which have almost feminine quality of transformation in them. (If you want to read more, I recommend the Jules Verne part in Mikko Lehtonen's Pikku Jättiläisiä.) It is soft and in it you can float almost free. But it is also the place of danger and threat: the sea can drown a man anytime, kill him with a hug of her deadly hands, so to speak.

Now, in Jaws man (in the meaning of everyone, of community) lives peacefully by the sea: townspeople swim in it and through tourists they get extra money. The sea isn't threatening in any way. But then comes the shark. The shark is a handsome beast: it is long, tall, powerful and fascinating. It is something that the little town has never faced. Most important thing about the shark is that is clearly phallic. It represents the vicious power that nobody in the little town has: it is a masculinity regained and it is a masculinity destroying everything in its way. So the folks of the little town decide to destroy it, so that they could continue living in peace with the sea. The phallic shark is something weird and alien in the feminine sea and it must be gotten rid of.

The only one, who can do this, is Robert Shaw. Shaw in the film is ultramacho, almost comparable with the shark in all his phallic power and violence. Shaw wants to kill the shark by himself, but Scheider and Dreyfuss (whom Shaw rejects as a sissy, whimpy intellectual, who only wants to protect dangerous animals - the future proves him wrong) go with him.

What happens in the boat? The men get to know themselves, they become friends and start to respect themselves. Dreyfuss gains Shaw's admiration by showing him the scars that he has got from the attacking sharks. But the shark seems at first to be more powerful than this community of 'real' men. So the macho man must be thrown away. The shark attacks with a vicious power, destroys almost half of the boat and eats Shaw: the two machos struggle but the stronger one wins. The shark and Shaw become one and the community of men is now based on the intellectual Dreyfuss and the seemingly weak Scheider. And they destroy the shark: Scheider shoots the shark with one shot. He gains his power by shooting the mean phallos (it has haunted him even before the killer shark: his marriage isn't a very happy one) and can now be regarded as an asexual.

But there is still the homosexual aspect left. The relation between Dreyfuss and Scheider is at first "only" friendship, but in the end they swim (the boat is now sunk) together back to the mainland. They glance each other with happy smiles. This has always to me seemed the birth of a homosexual relationship between the two, but because the film doesn't want to encourage that kind of love, it shows this relationship only as asexual. It has nothing to do with the body or sexual drives, it is homosexuality of minds, platonic homosexuality (in the modern sense of the word, because I think Plato had something more in his mind). When the bad phallos is destroyed, men can be free and happy: they have nothing be afraid of, even in the sea of femininity. Is Scheider's marriage now rescued, is the question left open.

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