Pop Culture

Yes, Internet, the Titanic Really Happened...

This past week saw the re-release of James Cameron's 1997 blockbuster weeper Titanic into theaters in glorious and wallet-draining 3-D and uh, regular D. It's been 100 years since the real ship sank, and almost 15 years since the movie was released, making for a great built-in marketing campaign.

But for a few thousand people on Twitter (and many more who were probably afraid to ask) the tragedy wasn't real, and in fact, just a movie. A few days back before the film's mid-week release, The Huffington Post did a quick blog on the 21 people that were asking the Internet ether if a boat really sank in 1912.

In the wake -- boating pun -- of the film's $17.4 million haul over the weekend and its five-day total of $25.7 million, social media again exploded with teenagers confused and bewildered that there was once a Titanic.

Scarily enough, if you follow this demented logic then you could possibly believe that Avatar really happened, er, is going to happen. Think about that.

Which is confusing since I always knew, from a very young age, about the sinking of the ship, mainly through oceanographer Robert Ballard's expeditions to the wreckage in the '80s. I had all the books about his travels to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean to rubberneck, making me a damned dork as a child.

To me and many other adults on Twitter who started seeing these tweets this weekend, this was a sign of either the continuing fall of the American empire, or a very real indicator that our public school system's collective shit is fucked up.

Could this mean that there are teens graduating high school who think that the Kennedy assassination was just a really long and boring movie that their dad watches on Sunday afternoons after cutting the grass? Or that in fact there were "Star Wars" that happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away? So that's why the moon is all screwed up, y'all.

Have very real historical events been so warped by Hollywood that younglings with Hello Kitty iPhones cannot suss out a three-hour work of fiction from reality? Isn't there a Wikipedia app for this shit?

It can't be an age gap thing, right? Maybe one day in a handful of decades, the idea of World War II and the Holocaust will sound unreal, and just the stuff of films, like a collective mythology we all agreed on sometime in the '50s. The lines of fiction and history were always strange bedfellows, after all.

My question is, what kind of piss-poor job are you parents doing out there to create mall monsters that can't distinguish the two. How do you explain History Channel documentaries and history classes? Well, when you have a show like Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy airing before UFO docs, I can see how things would get muddy mentally.

I guess this has happened before in more extreme ways, considering that there are people who still believe Earth itself is only a few thousand years old, and that dinosaurs are a myth, a hoax by the heathen scientific community. I spent the first decade and a half of my life at church, and even I knew that was wrong.

Generations of us already have demented views on every other time period, so what's the big deal?

Maybe Sherlock Holmes was real and kicked Victorian ass using sophisticated martial arts and cross-dressing techniques.

This Ray Charles guy that Jamie Foxx played in that movie that is on FX all the time...real dude or what? You mean blind people can play the piano?

Maybe Forrest Gump was a real guy after all, and the mentally handicapped Zelig did get to fight in this thing called the Vietnam War, run across the country because of a broken heart, meeting a succession of presidents and pop-culture heroes along the way. Sounds about right. I mean, there are Bubba Gump restaurants, so it's not like they just made up a chain of seafood places to capitalize on the movie right? Right?

I have always thought of Mike Judge's criminally underrated Idiocracy as less a fantasy-comedy and more a grim prediction of the future myself, and that Encino Man was a documentary on how Hollywood discovered Brendan Fraser rather than a tale about some teens who discover a radical, skateboarding, betty-loving caveman in their SoCal backyard. So there is that.

All I know is, when is this ape uprising and will I have to really wear a dog collar?

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Craig Hlavaty
Contact: Craig Hlavaty