What is it about the Titanic that still captures our attention? I think about all the disasters that happen everyday in our world–earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, and hurricanes–disasters that claim far more lives and have more repercussions, but are forgotten soon after (except by the poor people who are still rebuilding and suffering, of course). What it is about this ill-fated ocean liner that makes her so special?
RMS Titanic was the largest passenger steamship in the world when she set off on her maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City on April 10, 1912. Just four days later, on April 14, she struck an iceberg and sank at 2:20 the following morning, resulting in the deaths of 1,517 people. It was one of the deadliest maritime disasters to happen outside of war.
I rarely talk about my work on this blog, but it was during my previous day job that I recently got to witness the power of Titanic firsthand. The museum I worked for was hosting a small exhibit about our province’s connection to the doomed ship. It turns out that thirteen people on the Titanic were Manitobans, and many more have some kind of connection to the voyage: their grandmother had a ticket but couldn’t make it, etc.
Our exhibit was small, especially compared to Premier Exhibitions, Inc’s Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, but it still attracted a ton of media and public attention. I’d been working at the museum for almost six years, and couldn’t recall a single press release that got this much immediate attention.
People may blame James Cameron for this, but I don’t think it’s his fault. This long-standing fascination with the Titanic is why he came to make the movie in the first place.
But why? Why do we care so much? Is it about nature’s triumph over man–the ship was referred to as “unsinkable”, after all. Or is it the scope of the tragedy, which could have been avoided with more life boats and better planning? The mystery of the ship’s location underwater for so many years? That this great disaster struck down the wealthy as well as the poor?
What is it about the Titanic that always keeps us coming back for more? I admit that I saw both exhibits. And I even liked Cameron’s movie. But I’m not sure what lures me, either.
Are you a “fan” (for lack of a better word) of the Titanic? What do you think it is about this particular disaster that continues to fascinate us?
P.S. Like stories about ghost ships? Check this one out.