So when it's on TV, I'll definitely stop and watch it for a few minutes... that is, until someone I live with walks in and is all "really?" and I'm like "oh... yeah... there was nothing else on" and he's like "What about this or this or this or all the movies we own? How about a blank screen? All those are better than Titanic." and I'm like, "so." as I sheepishly change the channel.
I mean, there's nothing critically endearing that binds me to this movie (other than Kate Winslet's costumes). Besides Home Alone, which I barely remember, it was my first official, re-released, record breaking blockbuster. And, I'm attached to it for the seminal, traumatizing, moments that happened to me during its long theater life.
I saw Titanic probably... 2 or 3 times when it was in theaters.
When it was released, I was a 13 year old, middle class white girl with a burgeoning crush on Leonardo Dicaprio (Shayne had shown me What's Eating Gilbert Grape and Marvin's Room that summer) who adored period pieces and James Cameron. Talk about a match made in demographic heaven.
But then again, I was 13. I was a puberty stricken monster; a skinny stack of hormones and confused angst. In 3 short months, I had traded in jelly sandals, short shorts and smiley face t-shirts for wide-leg Jnco's, button down flannels, and Air Walks. I learned all the lyrics to every Marilyn Manson song in a weekend in order to impress my "boyfriend" Joey, aka the guy who I sat with at lunch and who walked me home from school every day. My group of friends was morphing from quasi-preppy to greasy "banger" (does the "banger" subculture even exist anymore? I feel like it drowned somewhere in the late 90's, in between the high school Goth and high school poser Raver waves). I was told by more than one of my older friends that "Bangers don't read" and "who are the Doors? that's lame. Listen to this Korn and Bush mix tape." I had zero self esteem, friends who were terrible influences, and I spent 90% of my time focused on being miserable. The other 10% I spent sleeping.
Who said "youth is wasted on the young?"** because it's incredibly true.
Anyway, it went against everything I imagined I stood for to be interested in something so mainstream as Titanic. Even if it didn't have that terrible, terrible song, it was still on the pages of Tiger Beat and Bop, and all the really bitchy preppy girls were bragging on how they saw it "SO. MANY. TIMES." And based on how much Kristina, Joey and I made fun of it on our walks home, I shelved it as something I'd never watch as long as I had a "cool" bone left in my body. But oh man did I want to see it.
And then, on one of the few "dates" that Joey and I were trying to plan, my parents said they would take us to go see a movie (because we were 13 and 14, and according to our parents, "weren't old enough to have unsupervised dates" or some other
WAH WAH WAAAAAAH.
Joey agreed to go, mostly because we hardly ever got to see or talk to each other outside of school, since I was too socially inept to talk to boys in person, and virtually paralyzed to talk to them on the phone. But I was inwardly excited. A movie I secretly want to see and seeing it with Joey? SCORE.
However, when we got to the ticket booth, Titanic was sold out. What wasn't sold out? 007: Tomorrow Never Dies. also titled: Yet Another Installment in a Franchise so Boring it Makes Audrey Rip Her Teeth Out. Oh yes, we watched it. I hated it. Then we had the world's most awkward dinner date with my parents and Mary. I think we even drove all the way to Annapolis to go to the fancy Red Hot & Blue, and they were out of everything Joey would eat. Ugh. We broke up a few weeks later.
A few months later, some of my terrible influence friends decided they wanted to go see Titanic. One of the other mom's was paying, so I was all about it. A movie that I secretly want to see and seeing it with my friends? And I don't have to beg movie money off my mom? SCORE. As soon as we got to the theater, one of the girls, whose name I can't remember, might've been Aly, made fun of my clothes. So what if I had a garbage green old man sweater, a pair of baby blue corduroy bell bottoms, and my disgustingly dirty brown air-walks? [I've never had any sense of style.] So I sat and brooded, feeling like a douche while the other girls had fun, until one of them convinced me to sneak out of our seats to play arcade games and to have popcorn catching competitions in the back of the theater. It didn't make me feel better, because I was 13 and recently dumped and I knew I'd never have a love affair as great as Jack and Rose (Yes at 13, I seriously felt I would die poor, unloved and alone). But then, one of the girls told me the only reason they invited me along was to give me "one last shot at being cool." Needless to say, I blew it. I learned how awful kids can be, and we weren't friends again for almost a year.
Just before the school year ended, our band, orchestra and chorus had a concert. I was in the alto chorus section with Robynne, who had transferred into our school 3 or 4 months prior and had basically made her mind up that I was a freak. Some how or another, we got to talking, and joking, and ended up singing the entirety of "My Heart Will Go ON" as the band and orchestra played the instrumental version. I had started what would be a close friendship for years that night, but it was still an especially bittersweet moment for me. Joey played base in the orchestra, and his new girlfriend (the one who immediately replaced me, the one who gave it up on the first date, who he said he hated) played violin. He was standing behind her while they played, and he leaned down and kissed her on the top of the head when they were done.
Yeah. That sucked.
Later that summer, when Titanic was re-released in theaters, my friend Pam and I convinced each other to go see it. I was pretty excited, considering my earlier attempts at watching it had been thwarted. We had fun, cracking inappropriate jokes, lusting over Leo, and awkwardly running into this girl Rachel, who was one of my idols of Cool, and also a close friend of Pam's older sister, during intermission. And it was fun right... up... until... the scene when Cal is walking around the ship that rescued the survivors, and he's looking for Rose. I started feeling sad. And when elderly Rose was on the dock at Ellis Island, and said her name was "Rose Dawson," I got all kinds of verklempt. And when she said "A woman's heart is an ocean of secrets," I freeaakin lost it. I cried so hard and so loud, everyone (including Super Cool Rachel) turned to look at me to see if I was ok. I motioned "I don't know what's wrong with me!" as I sobbed, humiliating the life out of Pam. It was weird, I really did have no idea what was going on with me. I never cried during movies before.
As I explained what happened at the theater to my mom, she explained the glorious nature of hormones and how they negatively affect things like "rational thinking" and "watching sappy movies without shaming yourself." She have me a consoling pat on the back while telling me "Now you know what it's like to be a real woman."
Great, I became a real woman while watching Titanic.
And then there was the time my roommate Kristin and I were packing up our apartment in our scuzzy pj's in the middle of the day, guiltily watching Titanic, when my friend Chris showed up from Maryland on a "surprise visit," thoroughly embarassing all three of us. But, he bought us pizza, so on the grand scale of things, it wasn't terrible at all.
So yeah, terrible, sappy movie or not, it unfortunately has a place in my life. Not that I've ever felt the need to buy it.
But shit, 13 years later and I still tear up watching the final Rose monologue.
No shame, guys.