Discussion in 'Culture' started by erich orser, Feb 12, 2006.
Just found this when I logged-in.
RIP... And here is Richard Ellis' review of Benchley's gigantic squid novel, Beast.
Death -- it's a bummer!
It was Peter Benchley's "Beast" that actually got me interested in Architeuthis, and squid in general. Apart from his "monster" books, Peter Benchley wrote some very good books, including "The Girl of the Sea of Cortez" (which was given to me at a young age by my Grandmother and got me interested in the ocean and all her creatures) and Rummies - quite a funny, political type fiction. The world has lost a good man. May he Rest in Peace. Cheers.
Not to sidetrack the discussion, but I've been recently watching the Looney Tunes Golden Collections, which are great, and it's great to see the old animators and voice actors talking about their work on the commentaries and features. They're quite old, of course, and along with the fact that Chuck Jones and Mel Blanc and others have passed on, it really gets you thinking about mortality. A sad fact but thankfully we still have their cartoons to make us laugh.
Although his prose was somewhat...derivative, it is too bad that he died that way. I would much rather he was chewed up and swallowed by a few sharks, after the massive amount of shark killing that came about due to his book, "jaws".
He got off easy, in my opinion.
I've never read any of his work. 'Course I've seen the movie Jaws (and been on the ride), and I think I know some of the differences between them. Is his work any good? I know this is a bit of a "whisky question" (meaning one person can't say what the best is since everyone's taste is obviously different) but what are his books like? Are they any good?
While that is true, he did try to make things better and did a lot later in his life to help sharks. I read a book by him last summer where he was defending sharks and I saw a movie where he talked about "jaws" and the controversy it caused and the importance of shark conservation. I think the public has to be blamed for the killing of sharks becuase they overreacted to a fiction novel.
I personally like his work. In my opinion, he was a good writer. I don't think Jaws or Beast were his best works at all, but, just the fact that so many people were terrified to go in the water after reading either of them, lets you know that he could certainly spin a yarn. Check out the two books I've mentioned previously and let me know what you think.
Cool! Will do! >makes mental note: Jaws and Beast<
Oh, and bmatson, I agree with your statement, mainly because considering the music I listen to, I've seen many cases of that; where where it's so easy for someone to lamp all the blame on the music or the bands, than to accept the responsibility themselves!
this seems apropos
Reuter's reports shark attacks down ( on news of Benchley's demise?)
I don't know that it's fair to blame Benchley much for public hysteria -- although I don't like misinformation (and was bugged even more by that in the movie of "The Beast" ) I've also noticed that what the public does with information is often far lower quality than the original. A favorite example was that I read about "Generation X" in Time magazine and various places like that, and was invariably disgusted about how people saw it as reasonable to categorize people around my age similarly to (but generally more negatively than) "baby boomers" and how they seemed to love inventing labels and stereotypes. However, when I overcame my disgust and actually looked into Douglas Copeland's original "Generation X" book, I found that he was quite an interesting sort of "contemporary anthropologist" type, and his observations about cultural subgroups are usually interesting and spot-on. Unfortunately, journalists and the public generally miss most of that when they jargonify his stuff...
I suspect blaming Benchley for shark attitudes of the press and public is probably similar.
Actually, because he wrote one hell of a good book about a single shark, thousands of people decided that it would be a good idea to wipe out the larger sharks from the ocean.
Cash is king, I suppose. The book should never have been published, nor the the movie ever made. But what the heck, I guess more $$$ in your pocket, and your conscience means nothing, right? It's always someone else's fault...seems to be the prevailing opinion of the times.
Yeah but the fact is it is fiction. How was Benchley supposed to know it would cause widespread panic. Do you think other fiction books shouldn't be published becuase they may cause controversy? It is too bad what happened to sharks from the writing of the book, but you can't blame Benchley or the publishers for making the it.
Just because it's clear in retrospect that the book inspired the killing of the sharks doesn't mean it was at all obvious at the time he decided to write it that it would lead to that. And once the door was opened, I don't know that he could change it any...
I think you should be grumpy at sharkfin soup eaters as much as Benchley, myself....
I take great offense at this. I do not think it is at all reasonable to hold Peter Benchley accountable, especially given that he has spent so much time and money since trying to change perceptions and stereotypes.
I think it is akin to holding Melville responsible for every whale killed since 1850. Why should we stop at Benchley? Is Steven Spielberg responsible for shark killings? Is Roy Scheider going to hell? How about Robert Shaw, is he already there for playing a shark-killer in a movie? Is he personally responsible for all the sharks that died?
I think what's most disturbing is you seem to be advocating censorship.
Very well put Dan I agree completly. From what I could see Peter Benchley felt very badly about what happened to the sharks. He truely meant it as a good horror story. From the other book of his I read you could tell he had a great respect for sharks.
P.s Anyone who's interested "Shark Life" by Benchley is a great book
In a sense, I am advocating censorship. Censorship by the creator of the prose, not by the public or the publisher.
Learning what can cause harm is a responsibility. He missed the boat on that one ,no matter how much you all seem to want to cast bread out into the water and say "it's not my fault".
Perhaps I don't care much for Spielberg or Melville too...like stated before, cash seems to be king.
If Benchley thought cash was king, he wouldn't have spent his own money on shark conservation. Your thesis throughout this argument is that he's shirking responsibility, he's saying "it's not my fault," which is demonstrably false.
The rest of us are the ones arguing that he's not responsible. Is Salinger responsible for the murder of John Lennon? Jaws was not a call to arms any more than the Catcher in the Rye, and I don't think its fair to hold the author accountable for the acts of the mentally deranged.
Still Benchley has the right to make the book whether for the money or not. Many factors went into the worldwide shark endangerment. Shark finning for instance has been going on for years in Asia. "Jaws" most certainly didnt have anything to do with that. "Jaws" may have caused people to kill sharks but that does not mean Benchley should be "chewed up and swallowed" by sharks. And just like Dan said he put money into helping sharks and he had a great deal of respect for them. In my opinion Greg, you are being completly unfair.
Separate names with a comma.