I never thought I’d admit this, but here goes (deep breath):
I like Titanic.
There, I said it. Consider this my official Titanic Coming Out Party. My street cred is ruined. Revoke my membership in the He-Man Woman Haters Club.
1997. It was a happier, simpler time for yours truly. I was young, in love, and the price of a movie ticket hadn’t reached double digits yet. My soon-to-be-wife and I shared a love of movie night, whether it was at home or at the theater, watching a comedy or drama, the latest blockbuster hit or an overlooked indie film.
Like the rest of the free world, I’d been bombarded with the Titanic hype and the prospect of watching a three-hour film where I knew the ending (Spoiler Alert: the ship sinks) didn’t appeal to me. Being a good boyfriend, I agreed to go, but not during the first two or three weekends of holiday crowds. Even after the new year rolled in, the movie was still selling out and we found ourselves in a packed house on a weeknight.
Titanic was the Love Story for my generation: cheesy and sappy, with a theme song that stuck to me like a bad chili dog eaten at two in the morning. James Cameron described his epic perfectly, calling it Romeo and Juliet on a ship. That’s why it worked so well: it’s a classic tale of doomed love, spruced up with state-of-the-art special effects. Say what you want about Cameron, but the man knows how to make a crowd-pleaser. The crappy dialogue is made bearable by the sheer scope of his vision: the film looks amazing and, yes, the tension is high when the damn thing starts sinking. While the film clumsily stumbles around the romance, it shines as the two young lovers try to escape their fate.
My girlfriend and I made plans to see it again, this time at the newly constructed Pacific Theaters in Chatsworth. We had mixed feelings about the new multiplex: on the one hand, it featured stadium seating (a novelty at the time) as well as state-of-the-art sound and picture. On the other hand, it had been built on the spot of our local drive-in, the one that countless teenagers like ourselves snuck beers into and watched double features. Dare we support a place that contributed to the death of the drive-in experience, one of the biggest slices of Americana?
The new theater finally won me over when I heard it would be the only place in the valley that served Pink’s Hot Dogs. Historical preservation be damned: I’m a man-whore for a good chili dog.
We were running late and fighting, so I quickly ordered our food and we settled into our seats, engulfed by the enormous screen and teeth-rattling sound system. Once the movie started, we couldn’t fight anymore, being wrapped up in the story of Jack and Rose. When the final credits rolled, we held hands on the way out of the theater before driving home.
We wed the next year, but our marriage would ultimately suffer the same fate as the cursed ship: never able to be recovered, the remnants of our love lying beneath an ocean of lies and infidelity.
There will always be a sadness in my heart regarding my marriage, but enough time has passed that I’m able to look back fondly at our time together. We shared many years of joy and happiness, and for that I am thankful. Maybe that’s why I have a such a soft spot for a movie I’d rip mercilessly if it was released today: Titanic is a reminder of a time when I was in love, I had the rest of my life ahead of me and nothing else mattered. And just like my appreciation of the film, I’m not ashamed to admit it.