Thursday, April 26, 2012


Thanks to a tip off a while ago from Charlotte's Web I'm spending the next four days as a volunteer at the Sundance London Film and Music Festival. I just completed my training yesterday evening and really looking forward to it.

The Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organisation founded by Robert Redford - read about it here. This is their first film festival in London and it's being held at The O2 - this is the old Millenium Dome which was a ridiculously overblown white elephant (it cost 789 million pounds) the government built to celebrate 2000. Thankfully, commercial interests have since taken over and it's now being put to good use.

Go Sundance!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Death as Entertainment

The last few weeks have seen a blizzard of TV coverage over the impending 100th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic. It was of course a tragic event but there have been many worse maritime disasters which will not receive similar levels of coverage, nor will they attract the mawkish sentimentality that people seem so desperate to attach to Titanic.

The Balmoral cruise ship recently left Southampton to retrace the path that Titanic took and will be in exactly the same position in the Atlantic where Titanic sank precisely 100 years later. Some of the passengers were being interviewed as they boarded the ship and were asked what had attracted them to this trip.

One woman interviewed enthusiastically explained she was doing this because the story of Titanic was "just so romantic". Romantic? Just exactly what is romantic about 1,500 people drowning in a freezing ocean in the middle of the night? This woman of course cannot distinguish between the plot of the James Cameron film and the utterly terrifying and distressing reality of what actually happened that night.

Many people on the above "cruise" seemed to think it appropriate to commemorate the death of 1,500 people by dressing up like them - what fun!  Of course, when they reach the spot where it happened, everyone will participate in some sort of grotesque memorial service where they all bow their heads and hold a symbolic minute of silence. Doubtless the Celine Dion song will be played reverentially in the background. Shortly afterwards I suspect there will be a stampede for the bar where they will probably enjoy a selection of cocktails and canapes similar to those that would have been served on Titanic. Surely somebody needs to remind them they are celebrating the death of a lot of people by going on a eight day luxury cruise. That doesn't seem right to me.

Such is the level of myth that has been cultivated around Titanic that there are people out there who believe it is an entirely fictional event. I reckon quite a few of them are on that cruise.

Remembering events such as this is something we should do. It is important to learn from our collective mistakes and try to avoid repeating them. Most of what I've seen in the last few days however  is just people desperately trying to find some sort of association with Titanic so they can either exploit it for profit or make it an excuse to dress like an Edwardian dandy.