On Thursday evening, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when a video caught my eye. It was a short video, mainly in CG graphics, about a ship bearing a remarkable resemblance to a certain 100-year-old doomed ship. I was curious, thinking that it was a scene from some documentary, but I nearly snorted tea through my nose when I saw the name of the ship: Titanic II.
Having lived in Nova Scotia for over 10 years, you quickly realize that everybody in the Maritimes knows somebody who knows somebody who is related to somebody who worked on/was on the original Titanic. And of course, we all know how that maiden voyage turned out.
At first I thought it was an ad for some b-rated horror film – some arrogant rich dude rebuilds the Titanic, que the iceberg and history repeating itself. But then I realized that no, this was a news story, from a respectable new source. Some idiot is actually doing this!
Insert internal horror screaming here – somewhere between the range of a giant spider in the bathtub and seeing your monthly credit card bill.
Why on this sweet green earth would somebody do this?!
With the deaths of over 1,500 of the 2,224 people aboard – most of whose bodies were never recovered – the sinking of the RMS Titanic is easily one of the worse shipping disasters of all time. The unsinkable ship did not have enough lifeboats, ignored iceberg warnings until it was too late, launched what little lifeboats they had when they weren’t full, had an inexperienced crew who weren’t familiar with the ship and gave preferential treatment to passengers in first class while about 75 per cent of third class passengers aboard perished.
While over the years, there has been a steady trend of the Titanic appearing in mainstream and popular cultural, spawning a box-office record, and has led to new marine safety regulations – i.e. always make sure you have enough lifeboats – it is still a terrible tragedy, in which all of the books, movies and other stories based on those events have been clear to emphasize. And yes, while plenty of money is made off the event, they always remember that the sinking was not anything short of a disaster, and should not ever happen again.
But Blue Star Lines and Australian mining giant Clive Palmer seem to be ignoring this fact.
Was the ship beautiful? Absolutely, from the images I’ve seen of it, even decaying under the sea, it is a work of art, and would have been a true marvel in its time.
Is there a kind of surreal attraction? Yes, we are all fascinated – albeit maybe a little bit morbidly – by the disaster that is the unsinkable ship.
But does this mean we should we rebuild it? Does this mean that this is wise? Does this mean that it is a good idea?
No bloody effing way.
Granted, while it is being built to modern safety standards, so it won’t be an exact, exact replica, it is still spitting in the face (and graves) of everyone associated with the disaster. The original Titanic was an engineering triumph for its time, and inspectors could not find any sign that the sinking could be contributed to faulty construction, so it was built to standards as well. But icebergs do not care about safety standards, so if you do not get out of its way, good luck.
By building this new ship, Palmer will basically be cashing in on a century-old tragedy while ignoring it at the same time. ‘Looky here, MY unsinkable ship is just like the old one, only better and modern and it won’t sink!’
Don’t get me wrong; I understand the fascination with the ship, and the want to collect memorabilia from it. Morbid or not, the desire to collect pieces of history is admirable, and I applaud the collectors who are able to find these pieces and display them proudly.
But there is a difference, between collecting knick-knacks and rebuilding something entirely in its image, calling it the same name and stamping ‘II’ on at the end of it. One honours the memory, the other… does not.
Luckily, Palmer is experiencing some money issues at the moment, pushing back the launch date of Titanic II to 2018. While I don’t want anyone to have money troubles, hopefully this stalls – or better yet, scraps – the project.
Let me leave off with this; I am a huge believer in karma, signs, payback and whatnot. While people are offering up to almost $1 million for tickets – no doubt romanticizing the experience for early 20th century travel – they are all forgetting about one key thing.
The Titanic was considered the best ship of her time, unrivaled in craftsmanship and luxury. So much so, it was touted proudly as the unsinkable ship.
Today, it lies in two at the bottom of the ocean, over half her passengers dead after hitting an iceberg.
Stop. Tempting. Fate.
Pay your respects to the doomed ship and its passengers, and stop trying to resurrect her.