‘Titanic’ left us brokenhearted, but why do we need someone to blame?
The interwebs have been buzzing madly since Kate Winslet finally made the shocking admission that her iconic character, Rose, allowed Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jack to die needlessly in one of the most famous scenes of the mega-famous blockbuster, Titanic.
During her charming-as-always appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, their chit chat went as follows:
Jimmy: “People were very excited that you were sitting next to — or near — Leonardo DiCaprio…even though in a way you let him freeze to death in the water, because I …”
Kate: “No, I agree, you know, I think he could have actually fitted on that bit of door.”
Jimmy: “There was plenty of room on the raft!”
Kate: “I know, I know!”
The question of whether or not Jack had to die has been a topic of pop culture debate since the movie’s release in 1997.
So much so that a Google search of the phrase “did Jack have to die” yields 111,000,000 results!
In 2012, The Disney Channel’s Mythbusters went so far as to recreate the conditions the fictional characters would have endured in that nightmare of a storm, and then conducted hypothermia tests, all of which “proved” that had Jack literally climbed on board with Rose, and had they both understood the science of buoyancy enough to realize that putting Rose’s life jacket under the makeshift raft would have kept them afloat, the two young lovers would have both survived the tragic sinking of the Titanic.
Except, as the movie’s director, James Cameron, stated in response:
“I think you guys are missing the point here. The script says Jack died. He has to die. So maybe we screwed up and the board should have been a little tiny bit smaller, but the dude’s goin’ down.”
In an interview that same year, Cameron shared a similar response when a reporter for The Guardian asked him, “Couldn’t Rose have shared her wooden board with Jack at the end of Titanic instead of shoving him into the ocean?”
“Wait a minute,” Cameron snapped back, “I’m going to call up William Shakespeare and ask why Romeo and Juliet had to die.”
I personally have the utmost respect for creative freedom and artistic choice. Without question, Mr. Cameron knows at least a wee bit more about what goes into making a successful film than I do. How about you?
What I find far more interesting is the way we as a society have made this debate about whether or not Rose consciously and intentionally “allowed” Jack to die, or whether Jack was “too stupid” to climb aboard.
Fan theories abound:
- Jack only died because Rose pushed him down into the freezing water.
- Rose let Jack drown because she didn’t want to marry an uneducated artist.
- Jack chose to drown because he knew he could never marry her and he didn’t want to return to a life of poverty alone.
Kimmel himself used the phrase “let him freeze to death.” The reporter from the Guardian referenced Rose “shoving him into the ocean.”
Are most men and women — let alone a 17-year-old girl and 20-year-old chap struggling to survive in the middle of a freezing ocean in 1912 — knowledgeable enough about physics to have figured out that if they put a life vest under a wooden door it would stay afloat? I know I would have had zero clue. Zero.
Don’t things happen for which neither a man nor a woman is to blame?
Does it always have to be us against them in order to reconcile our feelings about loss and grief?
I would love to see a collective statement along the lines of this:
“It’s totally fucked up that Jack died. We all left the theater with our stomachs in knots, wiping our snot-and-tear-laden faces with our sleeves. Sometimes sad shit happens, and no one understands why. Let’s hug the ones we love tonight and try to enjoy every moment we have.”
It is my personal theory that had this story been real (as some believe it is), Jack would indeed have died. And it would have been neither his nor Rose’s fault.
I believe this because:
A. I can’t imagine anyone but a physicist being in that terrifying moment and intuitively knowing Rose’s life vest could save them both, and
As Cameron said, the dude was going down.
Photo credit: Flickr/a65ysg/
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