In 1997, I was 11, and when Jack told Rose, on her enormous private deck on the Titanic, “Rose, you’re no picnic, all right? You’re a spoiled little brat, even, but under that, you’re the most amazingly, astounding, wonderful girl, woman that I’ve ever known!” I thought, oh, Gosh, that’s what love is all about. These characters are so real.
I want to reiterate that I was 11. Now, 15 years later, I’m pretty sure that only the first portion of that statement was accurate, but it’s cool that Rose is a brat, because, in retrospect, Jack is also kind of lame.
Seeing Titanic today puts everything in a different perspective than when you saw it 15 years ago. As an adult you pause and think, “wait. Rose is throwing herself off a ship’s railing because she is tired of having dinner in beautiful restaurants. That is her main problem. Her main problem is “ennui.”
And, oh, okay, yes, I know, she had a fiance – Cal – who she did not particularly like. She did not like him because, at least at the begining of the movie, he was really bad at ordering for her in beautiful restaurants he was paying for. And this is a fair point. When Cal stupidly orders her rabbit, which she hates, Rose should have assertively said “I do not like rabbit, bring me the wood roasted head of an egret and seven ortolan.” It’s sad that she did not feel comfortable doing so, because that would have been, by far, the most entertaining scene in the movie.
Instead she decided to commit suicide.
(Also, the truest to life if you are the kind of person who is very bold in restaurants).
I just don’t buy that Cal was the only millionaire in the market for a super hot, well brought up wife from a good family. I think there might have been, hell, probably at least two others. There are other people Rose could have gone for who would also have been wealthy and able to stop her mother from becoming a semstress. They would have been people she did not actively dislike.
But then, it is possible that this was a period in history where it was reasonable to dedicate three hours to a girl with a serious case of the mean reds. Maybe, in 1997, ennui was a problem for all of us. In 1997 our national priority was figuring out wheter Bill Clinton had gotten a blow-job in office. It’s possible that, as a people, we didn’t really understand the concept of “problems.”
Since then, we’ve been through 9/11, a war and a massive recession. It’s hard to find Jack’s bon vivant I’m-never-getting-a-job free spirit shtick as charming when you know people who have been looking for jobs for three years and half your college class is living with their parents. It’s just… not as appealing as it was. It’s also hard to view bunches of well dressed people dying quie as full of operatic pathos as you once did when it’s been made pretty clear that disasters are decidedly inelegant.
Look, you know who you feel bad for at this point? You don’t feel that bad for Jack and Rose and their lost love. You feel bad for everyone who dies. As an adult, in 2012, you watch Titanic and you kind of don’t feel as bad for these two jerk teenagers – one of whom had the mean reds, the other one who had opted out of working in favor of doing mediocre sketches of prostitutes – as you do for the people who keep dying on the ship.
When did Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio stop being appealing just based on the fact that they were Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, standing on a boat, being kind of the world? I mean, probably, culturally, around the time we stopped worrying about presidents getting blowjobs.
Also, I know find the part where they have sex in the car terribly stressful, because I wonder how they’re going to get the stains of the upholstery, but that might just be me.