Boris Johnson’s hero is the mayor who kept the beaches open in Jaws. That’s fine by me – The Guardian

The coronavirus has turned the UK into an outlier. The rest of the world has seemingly gone into lockdown, shutting schools and public transport in a desperate bid to quell the pandemic. But Boris Johnson has gone in a different direction. According to him, the UK is business as usual.

But what prompted such a policy? Is he privy to more advanced scientific knowledge than all the other countries? Is he really such a vocal proponent of herd immunity? Or is there something else going on? Perhaps to find out, we should travel back to 2006, when Johnson told an audience that the real hero of Jaws is the mayor.

Ah, Mayor Larry Vaughn, Amitys foolhardy leader who orders the beach to remain open despite overwhelming evidence that theres a massive shark in the water determined to eat everyone. Now everything suddenly makes sense.

But still, at least Vaughn is finally getting his dues. Without him, Jaws would simply be a film about a policeman who spots a shark, imposes a stringent set of beachside social distancing rules and then kills the shark. But Vaughn is the necessary sand in the ointment. He can only see the potential economic losses caused by a beach closure, and pushes on against all arguments. As you can see, its a beautiful day, he tells the media at one point. The beaches are opened, and people are having a wonderful time. Vaughn is the entire reason why Jaws became an enduring classic.

And yet, until now, the cultural impact of Vaughn has been minimal. True, in 2013 the comedian Howard Kremer released a song celebrating Larry Vaughns impressive the-show-must-go-on attitude (Only three people got eaten / The rest had a great season / Cos of Larry Vaughn). And, true, Boris Johnson is a self-confessed Vaughnaholic. But thats about the extent of it.

Looking back, Vaughn had three things going for him. The first, obviously, was his never-say-die attitude towards deadly shark attacks. The second was his incredible taste in blazers. This, remember, was a man so dedicated to his role as the mayor of a seaside town that he literally walked around in a jacket covered in little tiny anchors. Whatever you think of the mans policies, you have to admire his style. I have for some years been a member of a Facebook group devoted to discussions of Vaughns anchor jacket. Paul F Tompkins once commissioned an imitation suit and the only thing stopping me from doing the same is my increasing suspicion that the money would be better spent on long-life food to feed my children when the coronavirus inevitably mutates and our quarantine period becomes indefinite.

The third thing is Vaughns longevity. Youd think that, in a fair and just society, he would have been removed from office the moment the people of Amity caught wind of his preposterous self-interest in the face of disaster. But no. Do me a favour and watch Jaws 2. Its set a few years after the devastating attacks of the original, but guess whos still mayor? Thats right, Larry Vaughn. Better yet, despite even more overwhelming evidence that another shark is terrorising the coastline, Vaughn still continues to frustrate all of Brodys plans. The electorate, it seems, holds a lot of stock in Vaughns total refusal to believe in the existence of sharks.

Look, nobody is saying that Vaughn was perfect. In his ability to willingly send townsfolk to their deaths for short-term financial gain, some might argue that he was actually something of a villain. But to me, he is a figure of ultimate dignity. Was he a good man? No. Did he do his best? No. Is it a good thing that our prime minister is repeatedly being compared to him during a once-a-century global health crisis? No. But did he wear a nice jacket with some anchors on it? Yes. Yes, he did.

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Boris Johnson's hero is the mayor who kept the beaches open in Jaws. That's fine by me - The Guardian

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