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.


nursemyra said...

That wiki list is frightening. I always feel some trepidation when travelling on a ferry, so many of them seem to have accidents. The Wahine disaster happened when I was a child, it was talked about for years afterwards.

King of Scurf said...

nursemyra: I've just read the Wikipedia page on the Wahine disaster - it sounds terrifying.

Terra Shield said...

It all over here too. As much as I should feel sorry for the people who lost their lives that night 100 years ago, the fact that everyone being insanely attached to all things titanic (because of the movie, maybe?) is a major turn off.

King of Scurf said...

Terra: If it wasn't for the movie and the discovery of Titanic I'm sure none of this would be happening.

I don't have a problem with the movie - it's the fact that people can't seem to disconnect the melodrama of the movie with the reality of what actually happened.

sabrina said...

It really is so weird isn't it...you would think that the what happened on the Titanic would scare the bejeezus out of people ever wanting to get on a cruise ship again, but here they are lining up to get on a cruise ship to celebrate it instead!

While we have no risk of running into icebergs here in Asia, i am often terrified of the fact that we'll sick simply becos of overcrowding or poor maintenance :p

And as tragic as it was, i think the Hillsborough tragedy, marked on the 15th, was an even bigger tragedy...such an unnecessary tragic event.

King of Scurf said...

Nota Bene: I got the notification email about your comment but it didn't appear in the comments section - strange.

Saby: I suspect they're doing it to get themselves on the telly.

You seem pretty fearless Saby and I'm guessing you've been in an Indian taxi which I've always found is a strange mix of terror and huge enjoyment.

sabrina said...

OMG you are soo right....the Indian autos...it is indeed a mix of terror and enjoyment....and not to mention pain cos of all the bumping and jolting around! You'd think with my big butt i wouldn't feel it so much but my arse ached terribly!LOL