Why Do People Hate Titanic?
Pop Aversion Theory™
Let me tell you about a new theory that is blowing the minds of scientists and philosophizers ’round the globe. It’s called Pop Aversion Theory™ (PAT™) and it was discovered by the same great mind that brought us Reference Burst Theory™. Mine.
I recently took a movie compatibility quiz on Facebook because I was sick of getting requests from friends to see if we had the same taste in movies. As an aside, I can already tell you we aren’t going to have the same taste in movies if one of your favorite “films” is Pirates of the Caribbean, which sadly includes more than one of my Facebook friends.
While taking the quiz I noticed the first film I was supposed to rate was Titanic, and I proceeded to rate it 5 out of 5 stars without thinking twice. It wasn’t until after I finished the quiz, while I was reviewing my friends’ results, that I found out I’m in a very small minority of Titanic-lovers. I thought this was strange because I remember everyone liking it when it first came out. In fact, after reviewing 25 of my friends’ results (50% male, 50% female), I noticed there was only one person who rated Titanic above 3 stars besides me.
What’s infinitely more disturbing is that there was only one person who rated Pirates of the Caribbean BELOW 3 stars.
WHAT THE F**K??!!!??
About every other Tuesday or so, it seems, something happens that makes me lose faith in humanity. This is one of those Tuesdays.
So, what unstoppable force of nature is causing the immovable object of bad opinion to favor the superficial shiny-but-empty summer blockbuster Pirates over the truly epic and one-of-a-kind love/drama that is Titanic? I have discovered that it actually doesn’t have much to do with the quality of film-making present in either film, believe it or not.
I know all of this because in my research I’ve performed a few experiments. I make it a point to mentally record the reactions people have when the movie Titanic comes up. Most of the time it is just a dismissing grunt or sound that indicates the film is much too trivial to take up any of their time talking about. That’s when I usually hit them with it. After ensuring I am in fact in the presence of a Titanic-hater, I proceed to tell them “Oh I thought it was great. It’s one of my favorite movies.” Usually this statement is met with shock and awe. How could I, a 26 year old football-watching beer-drinking chest-hair-having manly manly guy speak such blasphemy? It’s almost as if I just told them The Hills is my favorite TV show.
Compare that to another experiment I do with the opposite angle but the same outcome. I have specifically singled out Pirates of the Caribbean, not because I mean to pick on the film (it’s directed by the same guy that directed The Weatherman – one of my favorite movies), but because it’s such a good example of a film that people just inherently think they’re supposed to like without actually evaluating. When this movie comes up in conversation, most people claim to at least like it, if not love it, and after hearing that I do not share their sentiment, go through the same shock and awe as experiment #1.
Here comes the proof. When we get down to the heart of the matter, which happens when I ask these people why they loved Pirates and hated Titanic, we finally see the effects of PAT™ hard at work and can prove it’s existence. Here are common explanations I’ve heard for the “greatness” of Pirates:
“The ride at Disney World is sweet!”
“The FX are stunning.”
“It’s such a fun movie!”
“How can you not like it?”
“Johnny Depp’s face and body.”
Which one of those explanations should be the basis for rating a movie 5 out of 5 stars? If just once someone would describe it using phrases like “amazing acting”, “awesome plot”, “so realistic”, “unlike any other movie”, “invokes strong emotion”, or “has David Bowie in the cast” I would shut up and publicly discredit my precious PAT™.
Conversely, here are some common explanations for the popular aversion to Titanic:
“Some people saw it 17 times at the theaters. That’s sick.”
“Just a love story.”
“Way too long.”
“Just a sad excuse for a really long love story.”
“I hate Leonardo DiCaprio.”
“Most of it is boring.”
“It has that stupid Celine Dion song in it.”
“It’s way way way too long.”
First of all, none of these responses warrant a 1 star rating. If you think about it, you can use some of these same phrases to describe universally-hailed films such as Braveheart, The Departed, and The Green Mile. I have yet to hear a concrete example of why Titanic is such a bad film.
And now we come to it. The reason I’ve not heard a concrete example is because the reason is not consciously known to the person with the opinion, and consequently can’t be put into words. The reason is that people were so bombarded by how insanely popular Titanic was – how mainstream it became, how much money it made (highest grossing film of all time), how much girls loved it, how it spawned a sappy #1 radio hit – that they decided they hated it, not because it was a bad movie, but because everyone else loved it so much. Pop Aversion Theory™ at it’s finest.
Titanic made more money by a LONG shot than any other movie in history. That means A LOT of people REALLY liked it. What happened to all these people? The film did well with critics, too – although even critics are not immune to PAT™. The reason they tend to get it right more often than the rest of us (in general) is because they usually submit their reviews before the film is released, and therefore before the public has had a chance to create the aversion needed to spawn a PAT™ attack.
You don’t have to like Titanic. I’m sure you are going to spout off your much more sophisticated reasons for not liking Titanic in the comments. I, however, do love Titanic, despite the sour taste its “titanic” popularity left in my mouth, because of the acting (superb cast), the realism, the immense scope, the one-of-a-kind nature, the director (Terminator series), the cinematography & visually-immersing style, the story, the FX, the music (James Horner’s soundtrack is beautifully haunting), and the emotions it evoked in me (dread, love, sadness, terror) – I was on the edge of my seat for the entire last hour and a half of the movie.
The moral of the story is, make your own opinions. If you hated Titanic that’s perfectly fine, I just hope you can support your opinion with good examples.
More examples of things affected by PAT™ are Coldplay, The Matrix 2 & 3, Survivor, Dave Matthews Band, and American Idol. Believe it or not, I’ve talked to a number of people that haven’t even seen Survivor or listened to Dave and yet have somehow developed an immense hatred for them. I know I’m missing some really good examples that I had previously thought of, but my mind just went blank.
One more thing. I have cleverly phrased my new theory in a manner that will make its acronym form easy to remember. It obviously has a very bad connotation – you do not want to be associated with PAT™. You also don’t want to be associated with the New England Patriots. If you are a PATs fan, you probably also fall victim to the allure of PAT™ quite often because you obviously have a small brain. PAT™ = Pats.
Titanic: Stupid ending, trying to make you like it by cheaply evoking an emotional reaction (I cried, so I must like it, right?), Unnecessary gratuitous nudity, no real story if you take out the ship wrecking and the guy dieing… What did the film teach us? What moral could we take away? 3/5
POTC: Are we talking the first one? Or the second and third ones? The movie was highly entertaining, somewhat re-watchable, witty, nostalgic (instantly, because of the ride), funny, and absolutely stupid. 3/5
It all depends on what you expect from a movie. If you expect it to entertain you, or if you expect it to be artsy, or if you expect it to educate/make you think, you are going to get completely different things out of it.
Proper expectations are crucial to enjoying a movie. I thought the Matrix was a vampire film going into it, and because of that, was extremely pleasantly surprised/shocked by what it turned out to be, which actually made it better (it exceeded my expectations). Had I thought it was going to be about math proofs, I would have been very disappointed and not liked it as much…
What did you expect Titanic to be about?
“Unnecessary gratuitous nudity” – Where was this? Did I get the made-for-TV version or something?
So you thought Braveheart had a stupid ending too, I take it.
And to address your question of what makes a good movie, I would direct you to this article and this article which I highly agree with. Also, take a look at AFI’s top 100 films of all time if you still aren’t clear.
Yes, Austin Powers is a great movie, but I would never rate it above The Shawshank Redemption – even though I would rather watch Goldmember tonight than Shawshank if given a choice. It’s highly entertaining, as is Pirates, but not a better film than Shawshank or Titanic.
Ok – I’m gonna have to agree completely with the Gimcracker here. I loved Titanic. I saw it 3 times in the theater. Perhaps that makes me “one of those guys” but I don’t really care. It was a great film. I understand PAT for sure, and have probably given into it at different times (times of weakness) – but usually, as with everything else in life, you just have to fight it and decide that you’re going to like or dislike something based upon the actual merit of the thing itself, not what others think about it. It is because the Gimcracker is usually looking at the overall picture that I have a great amount of respect for him and his reviews. Titanic was an incredible film. Pirates was very entertaining but not nearly on the level of Titanic.
Now – here’s the kicker – the PAT and the examples listed by the Cracker only prove the quote,
In the examples listed above for why folks either liked or did not like the movies, the PEOPLE in the film accounted for half of them. Modern men and women rarely care anymore about the essence of the film and even less about the message and ideas conveyed. The same goes with music and fashion. Modern idiocy dictates that we simply care about the entertainment value and the people in the film, the beat and grind of the music and the artist that sings/raps it rather than the lyrics, and the models and celebrities that wear the clothes, rather than the quality and beauty of them.
Perfect example…Pirates vs. Titanic. Pirates – lots of swashbuckling and sexy stars, but thin story and no real ideals/ideas conveyed. It’s for entertainment.
Titanic – sexy stars and some action, but a great story based on factual events, and the idea that there is real good and real evil in this world and ultimately we must choose one or the other, and finally, that in the end love conquers all.
I’m not saying I thought nothing was wrong with Titanic, as I could definitely list some “Hollywood-izing” that I didn’t care for. (Although I don’t recall any gratuitous nudity…) But overall, the film itself, as well as films like the Matrix, LOTR, etc. and the ideas and ideals they convey touch on the truth inherent in all of us – that there is more to this life than just possessions and popularity, a higher calling than reveling in the basest of human desires, love and good worth fighting for, true justice for the oppressed, and that ideas and actions can change the world.
My two cents worth.
lol, there wasn’t “gratuitous” nudity in Titanic. I was kind of exaggerating/joking. There was just that one scene where he draws her nude (which was completely stupid/random).
“and the idea that there is real good and real evil in this world and ultimately we must choose one or the other, and finally, that in the end love conquers all.”
Wait, you’re talking about Star Wars right? Because I didn’t see any of that in Titanic…
I didn’t read any of those articles on what makes a good movie. I don’t really have time right now, but I do want to comment that I don’t really care what someone else tries to tell me makes a great movie. A movie is art, and as with all art, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In my opinion, the Batman comic I read last week is better than the Mona Lisa. Why? Because I get absolutely nothing out of the Mona Lisa. Not even entertainment. Batman? Well, I get not only entertainment, but existential/theological/intellectual ideas/discussions. Good vs. Evil. Christ-like self sacrifice. Etc. So, is the art in Batman better semantically than the Mona Lisa? uh… I don’t know or care. I’m not even “qualified” to decide that, but I’m betting “no” is what some pointy headed elitist art-freak (expert) would say. Bah hum-bug.
Titanic was a meaningless chick-flick out of which I got no lasting ideas or moralistic debates/values. Pirates was pure entertainment. They are both on equal footing in my opinion since neither of them really “meant” anything. Now, a film like Batman on the other hand, that’s different entirely…
The moral I got out of Titanic was that love and humanity are more important than status and money. This is shown obviously in Rose’s relationship with Jack, but also in the fact that many lives were lost merely as a result of making the ship’s deck less cluttered with lifeboats, and going faster to show off its speed.
And I’m a bit confused at how you give “it’s pure entertainment” as your reason for liking Pirates, and yet with Titanic you criticize it for being “meaningless”. Why is it that you can you enjoy Pirates purely on entertainment grounds, but not Titanic?
Good comments, I see where you’re coming from.
I do want to say, for the record, that I do not buy into the “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” when it comes to movies. I actually think there are good movies and bad movies, even though a handful of people will think bad movies are good and good movies are bad. That is the only way to explain the movie review industry. It wouldn’t exist if the beauty was purely in the eye of the beholder.
I never said the eye of the beholder couldn’t be changed or refined…
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Excellent article. I totally agree with everything you’ve said. Though I’m not sure I follow your idea that film criticism wouldn’t exist if beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Aren’t critics beholders as well? Their opinions carry weight because they come from experienced people, but they aren’t the end-all-be-all. I’ve disagreed with plenty of reviews, as I'm sure many others have too.
I am one of those few people who loved Titanic. The acting was amazing and they portrayed everything really well. I actually sobbed like a baby at the ending.