I’m doing my best to try to get over the ‘Titanic’ thing. Think it’s about time

RMS Titanic: Big ship of the White Star company. Built in Belfast. Sailed from Southampton in April 1912. Destination NYC. Didn’t make it.

Yep, bad encounter with an iceberg. Ship lost. Lifeboat problems. Many people drowned. Sad. That was 100 years ago. Get over it.

The papers this past weekend were Titanic obsessed. Aintcha tired of it? Feature story after feature story offered tidbits about what went wrong; who was to blame; who survived; how they might have avoided the collision, etc. etc. etc.

They didn’t ask the most important question of all: Who the hell cares? And if somebody out there does care, why do they? I mean, there has been an awful lot of murky water under the bridge since that time, including a couple of world wars in which many ships went to the bottom, so why do media sorts keep trotting (swimming) back to the Titanic.

The story has been filmed many times and despite the popularity of the most recent film – now in dazzling 3D – the better movie by far, in my esteem, is A Night to Remember from 1958, which has been recently re-released. It is, of course, minus the tragic love story. Which means it has no Kate Winslet. And a paucity of Kate Winslet at any time is unfortunate, I concede.

Of course, the Titanic saga has made a gazillionaire out of filmmaker James Cameron, so he should regard the sinking as having been a career-maker. So, I can understand his fond regard for the tale.

I’m not being frivolous about this, and certainly not disrespectful towards those that lost their lives, but again, my grandparents were just young folk when it happened, so why does it matter so much? Really. Did it matter as much at the time I cannot help but wonder?

I know the Titanic tale ahs become a kind of metaphor for that human failing that suggests we can surmount everything including cranky icebergs. But, I think we’ve found many times since then that we’re not so hot. Indeed our connection with this ball of mud is more perilous all the time, and that’s due to our bad decisions virtually entirely.

To me the greatest irony about the Titanic tale is that it happened just two years shy of the beginning of World War One. Then literally tens of millions of innocent people died.

Makes the Titanic pretty small potatoes.


10 responses to “I’m doing my best to try to get over the ‘Titanic’ thing. Think it’s about time

  1. No, I don’t get it either…

  2. Plenty of ships have gone down over time…I wonder if the fascination is because a load of rich people went down this time, not just the poor bloody seamen.

    • Unfortunately, yet again, the poor got the shaft. Even though, according to the film, they had much more frolicsome fun steaming up car windows than did the toffs.

  3. You are right on the mark, Ian. WW1 was far more devaststing, than the loss of one ship. Not much has changed though, millions mourned the death of Whitney Houston, while millions died in other lands.

    • Indeed, nothing has really changed, Doug, and I guess it never will. Since I didn’t know Whitney, I didn’t mourn her at all. She made her choices. Somalians have none.

  4. Every once in a while, a story hits social buttons. It connects with something deeply ingrained into our social, collective subconscious. Unfortunately, this story is not the Titanic. The story of the Titanic is simply a version of that original story. Which original story is the question. Icarus and Daedalus? Atlantis? Old Volantis? Perhaps snippets of St. Brendan? The oceans have a deep and fathomless meaning to the zeitgeist of human endeavour. And Titanic is a recent tale of our hubris, our not respecting the power and mystery of the sea, the reminder to each of us that the waves will take us when they will. Its just a shame they found the bloody boat. The story would have been better if it had disappeared forever.

    As to Cameron and the rest of his ilk that seek only to profit on the collective fascination, I say outfit them with wax wings and throw them off a cliff. The real tragedy is the attempt to manage the effect the story has on society. First, it can’t be done. Second, their motives are selfish and, ultimately self defeating.

    • Yes, I guess, whether or not we like it, Titanic is part of our mythology. Amazingly there are still people like Cameron profiting off a century old sinking. I appreciate and applaud your literary references, all of which are quite true.

  5. I’m with fly in the web. Back then, the U.S. was much more class conscious and the newspapers were full of “society” news. The common folk fixated on stories of the rich and famous much as they do today with movie stars and sports heroes. John Jacob Astor IV was a big deal, or at least the Astor family as a whole, so the disaster and his death would have been BIG NEWS. On top of that, some of the survivors became the equivalent of today’s reality stars, touring the country and drawing big crowds. Then there’s the name of the ship: Titanic – from the ancient Greek Titans and meaning “huge!” Maybe if the ship had been called the H.M.S. Chelsea Pinkerton or something like that, people wouldn’t have mentioned it as often. Then there was the movie. And lastly, maybe people just want something else to think about besides politics, gas prices, and war. Heck, I I really have no idea. I’m just guessing.

    • As a longtime newspaper guy I know the rich and famous are like ink-magnets in any story, and indeed the demise of Astor et al would have been really big news in the day. As for your latter points about the stresses of today, I think your assertion is valid.

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