Watch: Zizek on Jaws and Fascism


What do the shark attacks mean in Stephen Spielberg’s 1975 film “Jaws“? Theorist Slavoj Zizek investigates the question his latest film “The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology

“Fidel Castro, who loves the film, once said that for him it was obvious that Jaws is kind of a leftist/Marxist film and that the shark is a metaphor for brutal, big, capitalism exploiting ordinary American,” Zizek notes. But Jaws shouldn’t be seen as a metaphor for capitalism, but the figure of the Other in fascism.

We have, Zizek argues, a laundry list of fears about corporations, immigrants, the environment and so on . “The function of the shark is to unite all these fears so that we can, in a way, trade all these fears for one fear alone.” He continues to note that fascism worked in precisely this way.
“You need to generate an ideological narrative which explains how things went wrong in a society, not as the result of the inherent tensions in the development of this society, but as the result of a foreign intruder…It’s the same operation as with the shark in Jaws.” This, for the Nazis, was the figure of the Jew.

  • Pickaxxo

    Capitalism and Fascism ─ two sides of one coin . . .

  • HarryP

    …That’s not what he said, excatly. The untruncated quote is:

    “The original fascist dream is to, of course, as the dream of ANY ideology, to have a cake and to eat it.”

    This applies to fascisim just as it does to communism or any other socio-political “isms”. He is just pointing out that the unavowed purpose of ideology is to shift the accepted frame of reference, in order to improve one’s situation, whether it benefits the dominant class ( capitalism, elitism, classism ), the dominated class ( socialism, communism, anarcho-syndicalism, … ), or various subsets ( class fractions ).