Jaws and the Growth Machine
Jaws and the Growth Machine
Jaws is a 1975 Steven Spielberg thriller. The movie talks about Amity Island. The island’s beaches are its main source of income and all businesses within the island depend on the beaches. The island’s beaches are attacked by vicious sharks, which attack people who come to swim or rest along the beach. After the Sheriff finds the first victim of the shark attacks, he closes the beaches from the public. Mayor Larry Vaughan fears that the actions of the sheriff will discourage tourists from visiting the island, and he rejects the sheriff’s decision. The mayor is not impressed with the sheriff’s action but soon backs down after the shark claims another victim. These incidents threaten the economy of the island since tourists will now be discouraged from visiting the Island. Fear grips the island because of the potential loss of business, and many people do not want to see the beaches closed. The inhabitants however accept to stay aware from the beaches and away from the potentially dangerous shark.
The inhabitants of Amity Island have to accept the conditions given by Sheriff Martin Brody and the mayor. This will safeguard the interests of both the residents and the visiting tourists. The elite in this film, who include Mayor Vaughn, are obsessed with the revenue they get from the beaches such that they choose to ignore the impending danger posed by the killer sharks. In relation to Logan and Molotch’s classic study of the growth machine, Amity Island is a concentration of elite groups who are intent on exploiting the beach resource for their own good. The elite are hell-bent on extracting the maximum they can from their most viable resources, the beaches. The citizens of Amity are faced with a dilemma on whether to forego this profitable resource until situations return to normal or to continue with their activities despite the danger the sharks pose.
Politically, the Mayor is faced with the challenge of enacting the order prohibiting Amity’s citizens from visiting the beaches or allowing the beach activities to proceed as usual. He faces this dilemma because he stands to lose a lot if he makes the wrong decision. He is under pressure from the elite business owners to rescind the sheriff’s order. He is also motivated by his moral obligation to ensure the safety of Amity’s citizens. This dilemma and its implications on his political future make him defer the decision to hire Quint to hunt down the dangerous predator. The mayor covers up the dangers of the beaches and refuses the Sheriff’s suggestion to close it and find a way to destroy the killer sharks.
The political and social events that support these events echo Molotch’s idea that most urban towns are essentially driven by the prospect of growth (Molotch 1993). Amity is not an exception, the urban elite and the citizens pressurize the mayor to put their interests first. In an interesting turn of events however, the mayor makes the all-important decision despite pressure from the public and hires Quint to kill the shark. This decision is meant to safeguard the reputation of the Island’s beaches and protect its residents. The people of Amity are made to discover that their safety and the safety of the tourists they depend on are important for the future of the Island. Anaheim and San Diego are cities that boast a wide variety of tourist attractions. A threat to tourism in these cities represents a threat to the livelihood of their residents. Anything that would threaten the tourism sector would be addressed with concern and immediacy. Stakeholders in these cities would not want to lose their only source of income and thus will exert pressure on the federal government to attend to the crisis. Government action will be driven by the desire to safeguard the interests of every player in the sector and will be structured towards averting the impending crisis without affecting their investments.
Molotch, H. L. (1993). The political economy of growth machines. Journal of Urban Affairs, 15 (1), 29-53.