This weekend has been one of nostalgia, dear readers. Usually I am wont to tell nostalgia, politely as I can, to fuck right off. Nostalgia at it’s root means to long for something you can’t return to and I’m not down with that futile shit, yo. But now and again, nostalgia can be a pleasant, warm ride.
I’m not okaaaaaaa-aaaaaaa-aaaaa-*Cough*
Last Friday I was mildly surprised to hear that the band that haunted my adolescence more than any other was splitting up. This was strange for me, as I was under the impression that My Chemical Romance broke up in 2008. Alas no, they have plodded on since the early days of 2006, which is when the first contagion of the emo craze was spotted in secondary schools across Dublin. I was there, man. I remember it. Those little bug eyed cartoons drawn on schoolbags in sharpie marker. The elaborately decorated Nightmare Before Christmas wallets. And the music. Oh God, the music.
I think I am completely qualified to talk about the emo craze because not only was I there, I desperately wanted to be one of them. A younger BHT wanted so much to have a side fringe, a piercing in the cartilage of her ear and one of those chains you put your wallet on one end of and clip to your belt. I wanted the Chuck Taylor sneakers and the dyed black hair, the gloomy outlook of a misfit child happily counterpointed with impossibly hysterical, chirpy melodramatic music and an aesthetic picked up from a children’s animated musical made in 1993. But I didn’t manage to make the emo transformation for the following reasons:
1: I was too fat for skinny jeans.
2: My mam wouldn’t let me get piercings1
3: All of those accessories were so expensive
4: Razor blades make BHT so awfully nervous. Poor 14 year old BHT saw one set of earring studs shaped like razor blades and she was outta there.
But ultimately I never really ‘got’ how to be an emo. Young BHT did make a very ill advised decision to cut a side fringe over the Christmas of 2006 and spent the next eight months going around convinced it was the cat’s pyjamas. My Chemical Romance existed on the side fringe of my teenage years: I was never really a true fan, but they were everywhere around me. Slowly they soaked into my subconscious and made a damp little nest there. BHT for one will mourn their passing as a band. I will remember them fondly during my more melodramatic moments, where I am fond of screaming ‘I’m not okaaaaaaa-aaaaaa-aaaaaay’ in the style of Gerard Way.
I feel like the whole emo brand has come full circle on me. Last week, I bought my first ever pair of Skinny Jeans. Maybe there’s hope for me yet. But anyway the whole MCR breakup was in my head for a few weeks while I encountered other nostalgic fare.
Is nobody else still excited about the TGV except me?
I caught the last ten minutes of the 1996 boom fiesta Mission: Impossible on Friday night and it triggered yet another wave of nostalgia. The climax of MI is possibly the most 90s thing put to film along with that scene in Baz Lurhmans Romeo + Juliet where Leo DiCaprio sits on a beach in California looking meaningful and young while Radiohead play on the soundtrack. In Mission: Impossible, between product placement for the (at the time newly opened) TGV high speed train and Tom Cruise running away from things (as is his wont in every movie ever) we are treated to copious shots of mid 90s mobile phones, laptops and internet woes. Then a freaking helicopter gets dragged into the channel tunnel as the train rockets through the English countryside. Tom Cruise, why are you running everywhere? How is this CGI so hilariously dated? Tom Cruise, how did you survive that explosion? How are you not deaf?! Why does the English bad guy look like the current prime minister of Australia? Questions for the ages…
I felt a strange pang of nostalgia while watching this scene. I can just about remember 1997, back when a mother fucking high speed train that goes through a tunnel under the freaking sea was pretty much the best humanity had. The boundless optimism of the booming 90s, the clunky technology proudly flaunted as cutting edge. The pre twitter, pre-wifi pre smart phone world is a quaint one indeed but it’s also the one little BHT was convinced she would inhabit one day. I imagined myself sitting on my high speed train under the sea, tapping away on a ten pound slab of a laptop, while wearing a big hat.
I’m a Daphne in the street and a Roz Doyle in the Bed
The 90s were a good decade for Seattle- There was sleeping in Seattle, a little known music movement you might have heard of called ‘grunge’ which would eventually spawn the emo monolith discussed above, and then there was that spin off from Cheers set in the rainy north west city that nobody has given a shit about shit (literally nothing else has ever happened in Seattle except for Jimi Hendrix and Boeing).
There is something supremely comforting about the 1990s high-brow sitcom Frasier. Because the series focuses generally on the lives and problems of well educated, gainfully employed people of means, it’s a very safe show. Nobody is going to be left destitute, evicted or oppressed. That’s not to say it’s a bad show. A modern comedy of manners with what is to me a wonderfully welcome early 90s trip. The big hair, the baggy suits, the PHONES again, posh people bitching at each other and inevitably being zinged perfectly by the down to earth working class characters.
If given the chance then, would I wish myself back to the golden days of 1994? Or perhaps to 2006 to relive the emo glory days in the skinny jeans I could probably fit into now? I think not. Nostalgia is tempting but in the end, all one really remembers are the highlighted high points and moments of quality; with respect, if all I can remember of the emo craze are the ‘good parts’, I’m fine with staying here. As for the early 90s, I actually can’t imagine life anymore without constant remote access to twitter.
Niamh ‘That being said, I think I’d go back just for the big hats’ Keoghan
So today is an ACTUAL bank holiday Tuesday! Wow, these don’t roll around often. So as is often my wont, I spent the morning lying in bed, watching the 1997 disaster-histori-romantic-epic that is Titanic. I have a little maxim which is- If you enjoy something, have the moxie to enjoy it sincerely. I’m not into this ‘I love it ironically’ business. if you’re enjoying something for it’s badness, then that means you don’t like it- you can enjoy things you don’t like, and you can recognize that the things you do like are flawed and problematic in places. So I enjoy Titanic. I enjoy it sincerely, as a decent film, and yet I can also LOLz along at the sillier aspects of the production. So here I present both my drinking game rules and my sincere fondness for Titanic.
I’ve been obsessed with Titanic since I was little; I am a bona fide hobbyist, growing up in a house filled with books all about the wreck and the social history surrounding it. I spent many’s a long day playing in the park next to the old White Star line office in Cobh, co. Cork, and seen the rotted old pier from which the passengers of Titanic fetched their boat. When I was five (which is the point around which I start remembering news events and film releases) the James Cameron film came out. Back in the day, my parents went to cinema maybe once in five years and we had a collection of about 10 movies on video tape, so my nostalgia is pretty narrow from that era. I clearly remember the night my parents went with my grandparents to see it in the pictures, and I remember countless evenings sitting down to watch the cassette tape because it was basically the only non-Disney film we had.
So I have seen Titanic countless times, from the age of 5 to 20, and I have to admit I have always wondered why it gets as much hate as it does. I mean, I’ve heard people call it a shit movie. I’ve heard people call it the worst thing they’ve ever seen. I really don’t get this. I will hold up my hands and admit that it isn’t my favourite film or the best film I’ve ever seen, but I don’t think it gets it’s dues. So here are three broad things I like about Titanic
1. The Special effects
The special effects in Titanic blew my mind when I was a kid and while they have aged, they’re still stunning. I would call Titanic the first film of the 21st century style- I know it was pre-2000 and pre- 9/11 but it has the sort of scale and ambition you see in a lot of later films like Lord of the Rings and particularly Chris Nolan fare. Here the special effects are for spectacle but I think they stand out because they’re based in a familiar world and reality- one of the reasons Avatar didn’t strike me as a special effects MASTERPIECE is because that’s *all* it was. Once you marvel at the blue people running through a CG forest for a few minutes, it gets boring. Contrast with say, the motion capture performance Andy Serkis gave for Gollum in Lord of the Rings- the fact that Gollum is inhabiting a world that we can somewhat recognize makes it so much more effective.
2. The performances
Titanic does have something in common with Avatar in that they both have stock stories- Avatar is Pochahontas, and Titanic is a basic inter-class romance that happens to be set on the worlds most ironically marketed ship. Where they differ is in how these stories are executed and on the basis of screenplay, Titanic blows Avatar out of the water. It’s just a better told story, performed with better actors. The cast here all fill their purpose- baby Leo di Caprio idealism-ing it up as the romantic lead, Kate Winslet being all repressed and suicidal, Billy Zane being fantastically evil.
3. The Screenplay
I will defend this mother fucking script. Fuck everyone I will.
A lot of people get hung up on the love story element of Titanic and I’ll admit, I’ve never seen why. Sure, it’s a love story. Is that the only reason it’s bad? Because if it’s decently performed by an excellent cast, I don’t see the problem. The tension of a love story usually lies on ‘will they or won’t they get together’ but here the tension is the fact that the audience knows there’s a cosmic deadline of sorts- and so the story becomes not just ‘will the forces of class and society tear them apart’ and rather ‘who’s gonna die, are they gonna live, FUCK an iceberg! etc.’
I have heard the complaint that the film only focuses on two (fictional) people and not on a selection of passengers, like ‘A night to Remember’ does. Well, firstly if you wanna see a Night to remember, watch freaking a Night to Remember. (no really do it’s a classic film). I don’t mind anchoring the story on a few people out of 2200 passengers; having an inter class romance also serves to show us the contrast in conditions and lifestyle on the ship. I’ve seen other movies based on real life disasters and histories that followed just one person- The Pianist, Life is Beautiful, Schindler’s List, the English Patient, Gladiator- and they’re all fine. I don’t see the problem with focusing on just one set of people. Besides, the film does have a massive recognizable cast of extras and it’s a bit of a punch when you notice each of them dying as the film goes on.
Now, saying I like the movie, I don’t deny it is FULL of bad lines, cliches, tropes and memetic moments. Keeping this in mind, in the spirit of good fun, I created a drinking game to go along with the film. Here it is in it’s entirety
THE TITANIC DRINKING GAME
Every time the title of the film is mentioned in Dialogue, everyone must cheer and down their drink
Drink every time Jack or Rose get wet
Men- take a drink every time Rose says ‘Jack’
Women- take a drink every time Jack says ‘Rose’
(They say each other’s name a lot; please only play this rule if you want to get really wankered)
TAKE A SIP EVERY TIME-
The movie passes the Bedchel test (2 named women have 1 conversation about something that is not a man)
The Heart of the Ocean theme plays
The modern framing characters say something cynical
There is an ironic ‘this ship will never sink’ line
Frabizio ‘Italian-izes’ a swear word (e.g. ‘Bastardo’, Mother Funkolo’)
a real life character is portrayed on-screen (Bonus points for shouting ‘OH HI <Character’s name>!’ and waving)
You laugh out loud at a cheesy line/Old Rose says something sentimental
KATE WINSLET SHOTS (take a shot of your choice whenever the following happens:)
Kate Winslet’s American accent slips
Kate Winslet has a topless scene (Applicable to any Kate Winslet Movie)
Rose’s mother/Billy Zane say something sexist to Kate Winslet
FINISH YOUR DRINK WHEN
the script has social commentary
you hear trad music on the soundtrack
There is an epic panning shot of the ship as the music swells
I won’t go a long way to defend Titanic as the best movie of ALL TIME- I do think it’s got a lot of silly 90s sentimentality on it (Mostly personified by Billy Zane) but it holds up. I can only ever see the backlash for this movie coming from the fact that it’s a love story, and I just don’t get that. It’s a decent, if cheesy, movie, and it looms quite large in my personal nostalgia. Maybe that’s why I’ll defend it and be fond of it, due to childhood nostalgia goggles, but in recent years I’ve still enjoyed it.
If nothing else, the drinking game is fun.
Niamh ‘You’re not the king of the world, you’re just on the front of a boat’ Keoghan