This, then, became the basis for Peter Benchley's novel "Jaws". He later said in an interview, "The title was one of a thousand lucky breaks that happened to the book and the movie. Tom and I labored through about 125 titles, pretentious titles like A Stillness In The Water and Leviathan Rising, down-market titles like The Jaws Of Death and (from my father) What’s That Noshin’ On My Laig? At last, with 20 minutes left before the book had to go into production, I said to Tom, 'Look, we can’t agree on a title. In fact, the only word we both like is ‘jaws.’ Why don’t we call the bloody thing ‘Jaws’?' He said, 'Jaws? What does it mean?' 'Who knows?' I said. 'At least it’s short.' That was most everyone’s reaction.” Jaws? What does it mean?” And always the response, “Who knows? At least it’s short.” It turned out, of course, to be the perfect title: mysterious, dangerous, a little oblique rather than dead-on. And, yes, short, so it fit on a book cover and a movie-house marquee in gigantic letters. There was nothing subtle about Jaws in terms of invoking an almost visceral fear response in the reader."
But he also explained: "Nobody thought Jaws would be a success. It was a first novel, and nobody reads first novels. It was a novel about a fish, for God’s sake, and who cared about fish? Finally, we all knew it couldn’t be made into a movie, because it was a given that no one could catch and train a Great White shark, and everyone involved thought that Hollywood’s special-effects technology was nowhere near advanced enough to build a credible mechanical shark." That last bit was certainly accurate, as Steven Spielberg learned the hard way, but he got around that with a "less is more" approach that in the end made the movie much more frightening. Because humans enjoy being terrified from the comfort of chairs in air-conditioned rooms, "Jaws" became the highest-grossing film of all time and essentially created the concept of summer blockbusters. It was surpassed by "Star Wars" only two years later, but still. It was popular. And because humans couldn't grasp the concept that it was just a movie, they subsequently went out and murdered literally thousands of sharks in a moronic attempt to make the world a safer place. So that was a thing that happened.
I read part of the opening scene of the novel, on the preview page, where Chrissie Watkins is devoured. I just remember something about the shark's teeth pulverizing her innards to jelly or something. Fun stuff. I've never seen the movie but I listened to the soundtrack and it gave me the heebiejeebies and that's what set me off on this shark kick. I thought I had seen the opening scene in ad for the film airing on TV. As I remember seeing it, Chrissie was nonchalantly swimming in the moonlight, then she suddenly gasped and disappeared under the water, the word "Jaws" appeared on the screen, and it cut back to a shot of the shark's fake-looking head above the water roaring. So I expected to see that again when I found this scene on YouTube. But apparently they edited it for television. Because this version was a lot longer and involved a lot of screaming and flailing and trying to escape and "Help me! Help me! Aaaaah it hurts!" as the unseen shark nipped at her legs and kept playing with her because it was apparently part cat. So I have mixed feelings about whether I ever want to see the whole movie.
It does make for a phenomenal story. There's something fascinating, in a sick kind of way, about being stalked by an enormous creature whose thought process probably consists of "Hungry... hungry... hungry", in an environment where it's completely at home and you're completely helpless. But it's a story with zero basis in reality. Humans do not have the nutritional value that sharks need. Sharks do not, under any circumstances whatsoever, hunt humans and eat them in a gratuitously protracted manner. Sharks do not like the taste of humans. Sharks do not learn to like the taste of humans. And frankly, coming from animals that literally eat garbage, maybe we should find that insulting. The term "shark attack", in fact, is very misleading, because what usually happens in these situations is that a curious shark bites a human to find out what it is, goes "blech" (figuratively), and swims away. Just a silly little misunderstanding. Very few people are ever bitten by a shark, and very few of those die. Sharks literally kill fewer people than cows do.