On 1st September 1998, something happened to change my life forever, and send me into a spiral of obsession worthy of its own TLC show. That was the day that my mum brought home a new VHS for us all to watch—and that VHS was of Titanic. Yes, I was addicted to Titanic—and here’s my (not at all ridiculous) sob story.
I was only seven years old the day my mum arrived home with Titanic, and yet I remember every second of the three hours that followed. Well, two and a half—because my mum cut the movie short when she realised how distressing it was about to get. (But like, duh—it was a movie called Titanic. How did you think it was going to end?)
From that point onwards, I could talk about nothing else. In swimming lessons, I would re-enact Jack reaching underwater for the keys for so long that the teachers thought I had drowned. My friends stopped wanting to play Guess the Movie with me because I picked Titanic every single time. Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” was the only song I would allow us to play in the car. I was completely and utterly Titanic obsessed.
A few years later, I watched it again—and this time, we made it to the end. Well, I was devastated. I didn’t sleep for weeks, terrified that my blue bedroom carpet was the ocean and I was drowning. I spontaneously cried at mealtimes. I spent hours sitting alone in my room muttering “I’m so cold, Jack”. For about six months, I lived in a Titanic trance—and then I watched it again. And again. And again.
My teenage years were almost entirely sculpted by an unwavering Titanic addiction. My time was divided up into recovering from the last time I watched it, and begging my parents to let me watch it again. I wrote rambling, tear-stained diary entries about giving up my whole life for a few days of doomed Jack-and-Rose style love. (Seriously, they are mortifying.) I even changed all my passwords to variations on Rose DeWitt Bukater’s name. (Most of them actually still are, so hacking into my social media would be pretty easy for you—if it wasn’t for the fact that 12-year-old me spelt it wrong, and I never got round to changing it.)
Titanic mania seeped into literally everything I did. These are all things that genuinely made me cry by association at various points in my life: Love, Actually (because of the scene where they watch Titanic); the New Radicals song “Someday We’ll Know” (because of the lyric “did the captain of the Titanic cry?”); the Dire Straits song “Romeo and Juliet” (because Romeo was once played by Leo DiCaprio). Things that didn’t make me cry: Little Women; Mufasa dying; the Spice Girls breaking up. I mean, my priorities were all messed up.
It all came to a head when, at boarding school, I watched it three times in one week and then cried so hard I couldn’t go to the dance with the local boys’ school. One of my friend’s parents had to come and hold me while I sobbed. I was 15 years old. This was totally bizarre behaviour.
After that, I went cold Titanic turkey for two long years. And slowly, the rest of the world started to come back into focus. I still adored Titanic, but I could talk about it without dissolving into a nervous wreck of misery. In fact, Titanic became kind of fun. I happily directed my friends in a home movie in which we reconstructed the boat out of bunk-beds and school trunks. (We only got a quarter of the way through because I was such a dictator about it and pissed them all off, but still, I had a good time.) And when I was asked to present an assembly to the school about the crucifixion (something that every student had to do at one point or another), I used up the whole 15 minutes playing the final scene of Titanic, managed not to cry, and concluded cheerily “And just like Jack died for Rose, Jesus died for you.” (Yeah, I was never very good at religion; it’s no wonder I gave it up shortly after.)
These days, I’m still a massive Titanic nerd, but I’ve managed to make space for other things in my life. I mean, I did write an aggressive article for my student newspaper defending the “I’ll never let go” scene (it’s a metaphor, you jerks). And I do have a secret blog called Kate Winslet’s Breasts. And I did go see the 3D re-release with my boyfriend and get so upset about it that I shouted “This is all your fault!” at some ice cubes in Walmart. But these days I’ve made room for also crying over Gilmore Girls and The Notebook and getting voicemails—so that’s progress, at least.
What pop culture obsessions did you guys have? Did anyone else have Titanic-mania with me? Or… do I just have terrible taste?
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