Titanic’s Unsinkable Memes

Katee Forbis often comes across a GIF on social media that shows a distant-eyed white-haired woman saying, “It’s been 84 years.” Woman. Forbis scrolled past the clip “a thousand times,” she said, but wasn’t sure of its provenance.

“Is that from ‘Titanic’?” asked Mrs. Forbis, 37, a screenwriter who has never seen the film.

Titanic, James Cameron’s three-and-a-half hour drama about the icy seas, was released 25 years ago and grossed (approximately) a billion dollars and won (approximately) a boatload of Oscars. But perhaps even more impressive is that a film released before the first iMac has remained such a vibrant force in pop culture and on the internet — where its audiences stretch even beyond the film’s.

The story’s recognizability and big-D drama ripened it for all sorts of campy reinventions. “It’s so zeitgeist right now,” said Marla Mindelle, one of the writers and stars of “Titanique,” an Off-Broadway parody that was until recently staged in the basement of a former Gristedes supermarket in Manhattan. And on last spring’s Saturday Night Live, Bowen Yang portrayed the iceberg of history amid a hyperpop swing.

But “Titanic” has been immortalized most vividly online, in the screenshots, GIFs, and covers of a certain power ballad that fans are still looking for ways to remake, a quarter-century after the film’s release. That way, they never have to let go.

The story of Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) has spawned countless memes, many of them clippings from the film’s script.

When the RMS Titanic sinks in the Atlantic towards the end of the film, her musicians continue to play. “Gentlemen, it has been a privilege playing with you tonight,” says one in a line that has become one of Twitter’s favorite mad libs when things go wrong.

“It was my pleasure to tweet with all of you during a true zombie apocalypse,” said Kyle Alex Brett wrote along with the clip from the film of March 11, 2020 – the day the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic. Others have invoked the scene to point to tanking cryptocurrency prices or a particularly bad play by the Yankees.

Versions of “I want you to draw me like one of your French girls,” Rose’s instruction to Jack after she saw his sketchbook, now serve as captions for images of cats Spirit George Costanza lying. The nudity of this scene was one of the reasons Ms. Forbis’ family didn’t allow her to watch the film when she was in the seventh grade. For others, it made the scene and line particularly memorable.

“That was the first boob I ever saw on the big screen,” said Matt Mulholland, 34, a musician and producer in Wellington, New Zealand. “That really sticks with you.”

Mr. Mulholland went on to create what might as well be the Internet’s Titanic soundtrack: a pitchy recorder cover of Celine Dion’s theme song for the film My Heart Will Go On. (He claims the quality of the video he uploaded to YouTube in 2009 was intentional.)

“Part of the reason Celine Dion is so great is her tremendous dynamic range and emotional integrity in what she sings,” he said. “I loved the idea of ​​taking something incredible, beautiful and emotional and just ruining it.” The video has 36 million views on YouTube.

“My Heart Will Go On” was also covered by Ariana Grande and James Corden on “The Late Late Show” and given a club remix on “Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar.”

His plaintive tin whistle solo is now being recirculated on TikTok as a soundtrack for people pretending to be taking their trolls’ advice. “On my way back to NFL bc user48760009 said get off TikTok and get back on the field,” twice-retired tight end Rob Gronkowski wrote in a TikTok video this month.

Spoiler alert: Jack dies. But for years bystanders, including Keke Palmer, have insisted he shouldn’t have, believing there was enough room for Jack on the log keeping Rose safe.

It was the most requested myth in “MythBusters” history when the show put it to the test in 2012, eventually concluding that climbing the board wouldn’t have saved Jack from hypothermia. In fact, adding Jack’s weight could have submerged the board further and killed them both.

Even that didn’t convince some people, said Jamie Hyneman, the show’s host and executive producer. “It’s a story,” he said. “It’s romantic and people have been really into the couple and the whole thing.”

Mr. Cameron, the film’s director, seems tired of getting questions about the science behind it. “It’s called art,” he said in a 2017 interview with Vanity Fair.

When Amara Lambert, a 38-year-old photographer in Fargo, ND, works with a couple who are nervous in front of the camera, she tells them to “strike the ‘Titanic’ pose.”

Everyone knows what she means. Titanic created the rare photographic subject as recognizable as the peace sign and as alluring as the instinct to support the Leaning Tower of Pisa. There are more than 20,000 photos on Instagram tagged with #titanicpose: an acronym for a picture of one or two people with outstretched arms surveying their kingdom. “I’m the king of the world,” Jack calls out from the bow of the ship at the beginning of the film. He later repeats the pose with Rose’s arms outstretched and his around her waist.

“I think it’s that sense of freedom” that draws people into the pose, said Alex Biro, who stretched his arms out in front of the camera for scenic vistas of Barbados and Thailand. Mr. Biro, 38, a recruiter, started the Instagram account @spread_your_arms_wide in 2015 to document the pose on his travels.

He then returns to his home in Southampton, a port city on the English coast that also happens to be where the real RMS Titanic departs from.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *