By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated October 08, 1998 12:00 AM
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“Jaws” author Peter Benchley has recanted. More than a quarter century since he published his runaway 1974 bestseller (which, in turn, became Steven Spielberg’s first box-office smash, in 1975, and scared people out of ocean waters), Benchley is now saying that if he had it all to do over again, no way would he have made his shark a villain. “I wouldn’t do it at all,” Benchley told the Associated Press. “I wouldn’t try to demonize an animal.” Because of his alliance with sharks as a result of “Jaws,” Benchley has been educating himself on the subject. This morning he appeared (looking very blond) on the “Today Show,” explaining how sharks are more curious than they are homicidal, a subject he covers in depth for the April issue of National Geographic magazine. The story is tied into a Geographic TV special to air April 9. “Society has changed,” says Benchley, and so should “the perceptions of animals.”