Why I Can’t See “Titanic” in 3D

Dear Readers,

So it’s here: “Titanic” in 3D. It’s been 15 years since we’ve seen the film on the big screen, and now it’s back as that mogul James Cameron tries to lure film buffs to return to theatres to see it in a new way. The James Cameron 3D way.

I’ve discussed “Titanic” with many of my friends and students. It typically goes like this.

“Professor Verni, don’t you want to see ‘Titanic’ in 3D?”

“No.”

“Why not?” they ask. “You’re a romantic. It’s one of the great love stories in the movies.”

This is certainly true, but apparently, they don’t know me well enough to understand how I am the epitome of a “hopeless romantic” as opposed to simply a “romantic.” The “hopeless” in the words means that we are hopelessly hopeful there will be a happy ending, that love will conquer all. “Titanic” does not give us a happy ending, not for Rose and Jack, and not for many of the other passengers who died on that tragic evening. It’s a film I was happy to see once, not twice, and not again, in a 3D kind of way. It’s way too much for me to handle. There’s just too much sorrow and agony. There’s enough of that in the real world, and I, for one, am pretty sure it will just depress me.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not one to rail against a film. “Titanic” was brilliant. It deserved the awards it won. It was an amazing piece of work, it’s just that, as Celine Dion’s “heart can’t go on,” my poor heart can’t take it again.

And yet, the irony is, I can watch and have my heart broken over and over again as I get involved in films like “The Bridges of Madison County,” or “Out of Africa,” or “The Thorn Birds.” Good grief. I’ve cried many tears over those movies…and will continue to do so every time I click through the channels and see one of those films playing. I stop and watch, absolutely mesmerized. I can’t help myself.

But “Titanic” is so desperately sad. Nevertheless, I will endorse it in this manner: If you never had the opportunity to see it back in 1997 on the big screen, you may want to indulge in this wreck of broken hearts and disaster in the theatre. It is a movie worth seeing. I just can’t put myself through it again.

With my apologies to James Cameron,

Encouraging the Longer Reads: An Educator’s Dilemma

Here’s a typical day in either my magazine writing or feature writing class. It usually goes something like this:

Me: “So, today your assignment is to read a classic and masterful example of profile writing as we prepare to write our own profile pieces. The article is called “Frank Sinatra Has A Cold” and was written by Gay Talese in 1966. The article ran in Esquire magazine and is still regarded as one of the finest profile pieces ever written.” http://www.esquire.com/features/ESQ1003-OCT_SINATRA_rev_

Then, the students usually look at the length of the piece and say things like…

“Wow. This is a L-O-N-G piece.”

“How many pages is this? It’s kinda long, isn’t it?”

“Exactly how long is this article?”

“How long will it take me to read this?”

It’s long. I get it (and I know how long it is, folks). It’s brilliant. So, who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? Who’s afraid of a lengthy story?

I thought I was on an island for a little while, scratching my head and then second guessing myself – was this article too involved for them to analyze? I quickly slapped my face and got it together. No. It’s perfect, I thought. Do not deviate from the game plan. Besides, it’s already on the syllabus. I must encourage students to read these longer articles. I must force them to step away from the brevity of texting, Twitter, and Facebook. They must delve into these substantial pieces.

On Saturday, May 28, an article in The Washington Post written by Paul Farhi appeared on my doorstep and helped validate my beliefs. The article is entitled: “Up from the pit of pithiness on the Web: While others tweet, some think the next big thing will be long, thoughtful prose.” Oh joy of joys! The article discusses a wonderful website that I’ve now linked to through Scribe Links on my blog called Longreads.com, a site created by Mark Armstrong (longreads.com). He posts articles that are over 1,500 words and there are a variety of articles and stories to read—all on the lengthy side. And guess what ladies and gentlemen? “Frank Sinatra Has A Cold” is among those listed. (For more on this Washington Post article, visit thewashingtonpost.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx to register and read it). I’m enamored with this idea of a site promoting longer reads. As Armstrong notes, it’s perfect for people who want substance when they are commuting, waiting for a plane, on a car ride, waiting for the bus, etc. And, it’s perfect to read on a Kindle or an iPad (and even suitable for those of us reading on computers who are not in transit).

Not everyone wants information in a quick and easy way. People are still reading long books like The Pillars of the Earth, The Help, “…And Ladies of The Club”, and Bleak House. It’s still being done. Likewise, folks might like to plunk themselves down with a longer journalism story, fiction or creative non-fiction piece, or even an interview or historical article. Longreads.com is there for you when you need that kind of stimulation to entertain you when you’re in-between books or you forgot to pack something to read on that trip on the subway across town.

So, fall feature writing students B-E-W-A-R-E. There may be quite a few long reads on the syllabus, but trust me, they are all worth the (long?) investment of your time.