Steven Spielberg has brought many scary creatures to life over the years. He re-introduced horrifying dinos in Jurassic Park and threw a bunch of snakes into Indiana Jones, but there is one movie that has a creature so scary and threatening that you have probably been scared of your whole life. And his name is ET, the extraterrestrial.
Just kidding, but ET is very scary. The actual iconic Spielberg villain is the great white shark from Jaws, and the species has been suffering ever since the director released his first film in 1975.
While speaking on the BBC podcast Desert Island Discs, Spielberg mentions that he is afraid that the sharks are still mad at him for promoting all of that anti-shark propaganda in Jaws. “That’s one of the things I still fear — not to get eaten by a shark, but that sharks are somehow mad at me for the feeding frenzy of crazy sport fishermen that happened after 1975, which I truly, and to this day, regret the decimation of the shark population because of the book and the film,” he said, adding, “I really, truly regret that.”
After Jaws became a hit, naturally, amateur fishermen became transfixed with the idea of catching their own great white, causing the shark population to plummet 70% over the last 50 years. That, and the increase in “finning” has landed the shark population on the shortlist for extinction.
There was no way for the director to know that his first major film (that he had made at age 27!) would have such a lasting impact on the shark population, but Spielberg still takes responsibility. Still, when will he address the permanent damage done to the reputation of snakes?