Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Shark Crackers

The movie Jaws has been a fan favorite for 30 years. A lot has been written about the impact Jaws had on the movie making business and summer swimming habits but there's one aspect of the movie that's seldom been discussed, the impact Jaws had on the image of the saltine cracker.


Before Robert Shaw's Quint, a cracker was a bland cake of baked flour only good as a surface to hold peanut butter or cheese, but not after. Quint elevated the cracker into the snack of sailors and shark hunters. What man has not wanted to calmly snap chunks of a cracker while saying the words:



Y'all know me. Know how I earn a livin'. I'll catch this bird for you, but it ain't gonna be easy. Bad fish! Not like going down to the pond and chasing bluegills and tommycocks. This shark, swallow you whole. No shakin', no tenderizin', down you go.


Much like the Eucharist is a symbol of Christ in the Catholic tradition, in Jaws, the cracker forms the edible representation of the salty trinity: Quint, the shark and the sea. This metaphor is emphasized both in the cracker eating scene by the having Quint consume the cracker as part of his performance before the 'congregation' of islanders while sitting in front of an effigy of the shark and then finally in Quint's death scene where Quint, arms splayed as on a cross, is half in the sharks mouth as it slide back into the water thus merging the trinity.


Over the coming Fourth of July weekend, enjoy a cracker or two, swim in the ocean (but avoid the sharks) and remember the most influential cracker eater of all time, Robert Shaw.


Happy Fourth everyone.

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