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MCCULLOUGH: Amid Titanic hype, remember victims

A pair of men's cotton gloves from the RMS Titanic Inc. are on display at Guernsey's Auctioneers & Brokers,  Wednesday, April 4, 2012 in New York.   The auction of more than 5,000 Titanic artifacts a century after the luxury liner's sinking has stirred hundreds of interested calls, with some offering to add to the dazzling trove already plucked from the ocean floor.(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

A pair of men's cotton gloves from the RMS Titanic Inc. are on display at Guernsey's Auctioneers & Brokers, Wednesday, April 4, 2012 in New York. The auction of more than 5,000 Titanic artifacts a century after the luxury liner's sinking has stirred hundreds of interested calls, with some offering to add to the dazzling trove already plucked from the ocean floor.(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

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This Friday, Jan. 23, 1998 file photo shows the Wednesday, April 17, 1912 front page of The Owensboro Daily Messenger headlining news that the Titanic had sunk. It was a news story that would change the news. From the moment that a brief Associated Press dispatch relayed the wireless distress call _ "Titanic ... reported having struck an iceberg. The steamer said that immediate assistance was required" _ reporters and editors scrambled. In ways that seem familiar today, they adapted a dawning newsgathering technology and organized saturation coverage and managed to cover what one authority calls "the first really, truly international news event where anyone anywhere in the world could pick up a newspaper and read about it."

Remember price of Titanic story -- more than 1,500 victims lost

For most of my life, I have been fascinated with the Titanic.

The world's most famous shipwreck has so many stories to tell, stories that have kept my attention for many years.

I have read several books on the subject and watched many documentaries. I have visited the Titanic exhibit. (It's opening now in Atlanta. Do yourself a favor and go.)

And yes, I have seen the movie about a million times. And I'll go see it in 3-D.

However, I have drawn the line at artifacts and memorabilia. I resisted the urge to buy photos autographed by survivors and chunks of coal recovered from the wreck (I can't think of anything more unlucky to have in your possession.) I don't necessarily begrudge anybody else doing so, it's just not something I feel comfortable doing. I'd rather study the history.

But in the years since James Cameron's film first debuted, the rest of the world has fallen in love with the commercialism of the Titanic. The craze has gotten ridiculous, to the point that a museum is opening in the United Kingdom dedicated to chronicling the Titanic memorabilia fad. Within its doors you can learn about everything from Titanic teddy bears to beer to video games.

It's all well and good, I guess. It's not the first historic event to find itself rolling along on the wheels of capitalism and it won't be the last. And far be it from me to tell someone they can't sell or buy a Titanic T-shirt it they want.

But I do hope this weekend -- the 100th anniversary of the ship's sinking -- that everyone who has ever taken an interest in the Titanic will take a moment to remember this: 1,514 people died in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912. Cold and alone, in a dark, freezing ocean. Men, women and children, all with families and loved ones, hopes and dreams, They were real people, not extras on a movie set.

If you don't believe me, make that trip to the Titanic exhibit at Atlantic Station. The romance washes off when you see boots, wallets, eyeglasses and children's toys under glass, pulled from a watery grave their owners could not escape.

The sinking of the Titanic is a historical event and should be studied as such.

But let's never forget the cost of our fascination.

Email Nate McCullough at nate.mccullough@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Fridays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/natemccullough.

Comments

kevin 2 years ago

yes. please remember the dead because we are sick of the fake movies. Wouldn't waste another penny on 3-D. The closet to the real event was the original black/white move made a long time ago. Everyone is now trying to make a lot of money off this event. We have had such events in this country just as bad, but don't get Hollywood drama; thank goodness we don't.

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FordGalaxy 2 years ago

One of the scariest things I've come across regarding Titanic is the number of younger people who thought it was only a movie. There are scores of Facebook status updates where people say things like "I had no idea Titanic was real. Mind blown."

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