Fake shark fins, anyone? The marketing folks at Universal Home Video have been ticking off SoCal beachgoers, plastering lifeguard stands and trash cans with “Jaws” (1975) posters as part of a national ad campaign to plug the flick’s 25th anniversary video and DVD release.
Critics of the ad say that the posters — with that famous painting of a shark approaching an unsuspecting swimmer — freak out children and could be misleading to non-English speakers.
Universal has promised to nix the ad campaign if the hullabaloo continues.
Meanwhile, the people at the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors, who OK’d the publicity stunt, told the Los Angeles Times that the complaints arose because “everybody isn’t familiar with the movie.”
And that’s where we come in.
How many people are really in the know when it comes to the Steven Spielberg-helmed, Oscar-winning blockbuster about a bloodthirsty shark?
Seeking the answer, we swiftly whipped up a list of trivia that we believe any “Jaws” lover could easily answer and headed down to the Santa Monica beach for some casual Q&A with ocean lovers.
And guess what, the County folks were right: Not one person we talked to could answer any of our following questions:
Q: What community does the story of “Jaws” take place in? Real answer: Amity Island. Best answer from the beach: “Well, I know it takes place by the beach.” — Mary Ann, sunbather from North Hollywood. Q: Who wrote the book that the movie was based on? Real answer: Peter Benchley. Best answer: “I don’t know, I don’t really read.” — Eddie, local college student on summer break.
Q: What actor played the police chief? Real answer: Roy Scheider Best answer: “How am I supposed to remember?” — Debbie, housewife from Arizona.
Q: Which of the main characters gets eaten? Real answer: Quint (played by Robert Shaw). Best answer: “It’s one of the three characters who went out on a boat at the end.” — Lisa, vacationer from the United Kingdom.
Q: What Jaws movie did Mario Van Peebles appear in? Real answer: “Jaws: The Revenge:” (1987). He played Jake. Best answer: “Who?!” — Jim, retiree living in Santa Monica.
Q: What Jaws movie did Michael Caine appear in? Real answer: “Jaws: The Revenge” (1987). He played Hoagie. Best answer: “Er, the first one?” — Debbie, housewife from Arizona.
Q: In which Jaws movie is a shark electrically barbecued? Real answer: “Jaws 2” (1978). Best answer: “Hold on, how many ‘Jaws’ were there?” — again, Debbie, housewife from Arizona.
Q: Which “Jaws” flick features the star of “Diggstown”? Real answer: Lou Gossett Jr., in “Jaws 3D.” Best answer: “Of what?!”– Jim, retiree living in Santa Monica.
Q: Which of these flicks is a Jaws knock-off: a) “Mako: Jaws of Death” b) “Grizzly” c) “Tentacles” d) “Deep Blue Sea” Answer: All of the above. Best answer: “‘Deep Blue Sea.’ That one has sharks in it. I’ve seen that one.” — Eddie, local college student on summer break.
But that’s not all. To put the whole shark scare to rest, we talked to Capt. Mickey Gallagher of the Los Angeles County Fire Department Lifeguard Operations. Instead of shark movie posters, Gallagher says people should really be more concerned about watching their kids, and jellyfish, when they come to the beach.
But Gallagher couldn’t answer any of our “Jaws” trivia questions, either.