Some young people today might be confused at that last part, since for them the Titanic is a movie — a work of fiction with a sappy soundtrack sung by some French lady from Canada who has a show at Caesars in Vegas. A local news report this week observed a slew of social media postings by kids denying the ship actually existed. It could, of course, also be argued that Billy Zane’s career never existed. Remember when he played one of Biff Tannen’s back-up bullies in “Back to the Future?” This was before bullying escalated into a very dangerous phenomenon culminating in the bullying of the Supreme Court by an American president. Back before the future we could all rest easy, knowing that career bullies always ended up under a pile of cow manure.
Unfortunately for our current future, kids today and their parents deny the existence of a lot more important things than a rusty old boat and a washed up bully. In the world of metaphors, allegories, similes, analogies and other grammatical phenomena that will never be fully appreciated unless they trend on Twitter, America is the Titanic and the average citizen is a passenger. Although the neat and organized class system aboard the Titanic — where first-class passengers wore big hats and spoke the Queen’s English, second-class passengers wore bonnets and spoke with Irish accents and third-class passengers enjoyed a good dance party — has become more convoluted. The dance party has moved upstairs to occupy the first-class areas, the second-class passengers are buying lottery tickets and self-medicating with reality television and everyone is denying the reality of the economic iceberg looming right ahead.
Leading the denial on the actual Titanic was Mr. Bruce Ismay, the chairman and managing director of the White Star Line. Several surviving passengers of the sinking reported how Ismay incessantly boasted about the unsinkable reputation of his company’s pride and joy, urging Captain Smith to put pedal to metal to impress the news media by arriving in New York earlier than scheduled. There are reports that the egotistical executive even tore up the iceberg warnings, believing that the great Titanic would conquer the very laws of nature, melting any ice in its path with its pure perfection. Of course, in the end, when Ismay discovered that his delusions of grandeur held no water, he reportedly shoved some women and children aside for the last seat on one of the lifeboats as it was being lowered from his sinking ship.
On today’s Titanic, the politicians and their executive mouthpieces (a la Warren Buffett) are steering us full-speed ahead right into the same economic iceberg that other ships, in the forms of nations such as Greece, have cautioned us about. “Go faster” has become “spend faster.” The delusions of grandeur now sit in the Oval Office. Meanwhile, the firemen down in the boiler rooms are being ordered to continue stoking the fires — from the continuous printing of paper money in the U.S. Treasury, to our soldiers, honorably doing their duty on the front lines in Afghanistan, stoking the fires until ordered to do otherwise. It’s full-speed ahead for Captain Obama. He knows better than to question any orders from the various chairmen of the board who sign his paychecks and make campaign contributions.
In the meantime, for those of us still aboard the sinking ship, the band continues to distract us with musical melodies featuring George Zimmerman and Whitney Houston, always with his holiness the Reverend Al Sharpton presiding, to ensure that the smokescreen is impermeable.
Over in the ship’s gymnasium, the professional baseball season is underway. Tragically the Red Sox, as one of my friends put it, seem to be suffering from a “collapse hangover” from last year, currently with a 3-5 record. It’s true that Fenway Park did open the same week that the Titanic sunk in 1912. Nevertheless, I blame Billy Zane.
Christine Whitmarsh is the owner of local writing firm Christine, Ink. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.