Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Titanic

I watched an interesting documentary last night about the preservation of the Titanic. Apparently in the years since the ship's discovery, multiple thrill seekers have been exploring the wreckage. Some people pilot submarines which collect Titanic artifacts which in turn can be sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars on the art market and some people just want to visit the site. But it seems that the Titanic wreckage is also turning into a novelty destination site as well. Some people try to get married as close to the bow as possible, and apparently swarms of ships hover over the wreckage at one time. All of this activity is causing a premature decay of the ship itself, and some of the submarines actually crash into the ship tearing holes into it. Robert Ballard, the original finder of the site, believes that the Titanic should be preserved. Already the U.S. and U.K. have signed a treaty attempting to preserve the wreckage. Now, I realize that the Titanic carries enormous cultural weight, but I am not sure if this justifies protecting the wreckage. Is this not illogical as well as an oxymoron? The Titanic is decaying and will eventually disappear. But some people, Ballard included, want to salvage the experience by installing cameras throughout the Titanic so people can explore it virtually for years to come. At a certain point in the documentary, my girlfriend and I turned to each and both expressed our disgust at a certain level of disrespect for the grave site of 1500 people. I think this brings to light the issue in Peter's article of appropriate forms of memorializing. Should the Titanic be a tourist site? Should we be attempting to preserve the Titanic? If we preserve the Titanic, how many other ship wrecks must we protect because they carry a cultural stigma? How much does Leo DiCaprio have to do with this generation's obsession with Titanic (I'm not a fan of Leo by the way)?


  1. Hey Alex,

    Really great post here. You raise a lot of interesting points, in particular I like the point you raised about memorializing ship wrecks / should we memorialize every vessel that sinks @ sea... we touched based on a similar issue in class - regarding women's memorials, do we need to erect different types of monuments that commemorate other ways in which women have died... @ war, by accident, etc...


  2. Just another note on ship wrecks.

    Im not sure how many of you are familiar with the term "The Battle of the Atlantic."

    but basically the term refers the the vessels that were traveling back and fourth across the atlantic ocean during world war I and II. Many of these vessels were civilian ships, but aided the allied forces with transporting goods, weapons, soldiers, etic... many of these ships were lost @ sea...

    in this particular instance, the Canadian Navy commemorates the fallen sailors by having a day of remembrance... so i guess my answer to your question is no, i dont think we need to preserve all ship wrecks that carry cultural stigma, but I like the idea of remembering them....

  3. I'm not a fan of Leo's, either. Very interesting post, Alex.