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Why 'Titanic' is Problematic

An Opinion Piece

The last known photo of the ill fated ocean liner.

The Problems with the Film

This isn't another debate on whether or not Jack could have fit on the door too. 

Although the 1997 film is fairly historically accurate, I personally have a few problems with the story. I'm not the only one. Family members of survivors have a problem with it, too. 

I spoke with a niece of John B. Thayer aka Jack Thayer a time ago, who told me she hated the movie. She was passionate in her disdain, citing it as disrespectful and "the romancing of a horrific tragedy."

Why, you ask? 

I will spare you the history lesson, but here is a quick bit on Jack Thayer. He was seventeen years old, traveling with his mother and father. As the ship began descending, he jumped into the water and was thereafter pulled onto an upside down lifeboat. His father, along with 1500 others, was lost. He is quoted as saying, "Titanic is always on my mind."

Thirty two years later, his mother passed away on the exact anniversary. Some time later, his son, who was fighting in WW2, was shot down in the Pacific and killed. 

Jack Thayer ended his own life in 1945. He is one of many who met a tragic end, even years after the Titanic tragedy. 

Madeleine Astor, who was on her honeymoon, said the disaster "ruined her nerves forever." 

Many in the Titanic research societies believe they suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. According to the information I have, this is a reasonable assumption. However, PTSD was not a known disorder at that time and so there was no professional help. Psychology was in its infancy. There was no way any survivors suffering from the disorder would understand they were being affected by a mental disorder. 

This is not to say every survivor suffered from PTSD. But I find it particularly unrealistic that Rose DeWitt-Bukater post Titanic would abandon her family, live alone in America, and live the life she did. She traveled, worked as an actress, hit the ground running?

I don't think so. It seems more likely that she would have floundered for at least a small time. But that isn't why I wrote this. 

The main reason that many find this movie problematic is the love story. No, we are not saying that love at first sight is not real. We are saying that it seems irreverent to place a love story at the forefront of a terrible accident. 

The whole focus shifts from the 1,506 People who lost their lives. We forget that it is not just a story. We forget that Titanic is not just that movie Celine Dion sang "My Heart Will Go On" for. It becomes a legend based on fiction and the names Rose and Jack are forever tied to the film. 

The lives of thousands were ruined in the early morning hours of April 15th, 1912. Men, women, and even infants drowned or froze to death. The names of heroes are forgotten in wake of Jack and Rose. 

The deep, lifelong love between husbands and wives is disregarded for a pair of youngsters who have just only met.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy the movie for the special effects and the historical value. And we can all agree it is well done, a masterpiece of its time. 

The only thing is, why can't a masterpiece honor the lost before the fictional?

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