For those who are new to the program, I’m a big Titanic buff. I love everything about the ship, the stories of the passengers, and of course the movie. I’ve read more about the Titanic than anything else in history. I’ve seen the movie many, many, many times. It’s a masterpiece, even if you don’t love the Titanic the way I do. But there’s one thing that has stuck out to me in some of my most recent viewings of the film, Cal, who is the painted as the antagonist in the movie, is actually the good guy, Jack is the actual bad guy in the movie, and Rose…well Rose is just a dumb bitch. No offense to Rose, of course. But she’s just a dumb 17 year old idiot. And Leo sees that, and takes advantage of it, and manipulates her, while Cal and Rose’s family try to get her to see what’s happening, to no avail. I have been developing this take since August of 2017, and after watching it last night, I have finally fully developed it.
When you really think about it, what does Cal actually do wrong in the movie? He’s heading to America with the love of his life, his fiancé who he adores, to marry her. He gives her everything she could ever want, he puts up with her brattiness (her first reaction to seeing Titanic is to scuff at the size of it, what a fucking bitch), and genuinely loves and cares about her. And how does Rose repay him? By trying to kill herself, then fucking the first guy who shows her any sort of attention.
Now let’s pause and talk about Leo’s character, Jack. From an outsider perspective, he seems like a nice, genuine guy. He is carefree, has a good sense of humor, and is humble. Now let’s look at him under the microscope of how anyone in Cal and Rose’s family would view him: For starters, he’s homeless. He’s basically that friend you have from high school who got a little too into Phish and now travels around with the band, taking once a week showers at truck stops. Jack is a dirty hippie who sleeps under bridges, gambles every cent he has to his name, and hooks up with prostitutes. Cal knows what kind of person Jack really is, a 3rd class smooth-talking vagabond who will lie, cheat or steal to get what he wants, and Cal doesn’t want his fiancé spending time with him. I think that’s pretty fair.
And now let’s talk about Rose. She’s 17 years old in the prime rebellion stage of her life. She was raised proper, and courted to be married by Cal. Remember how you were at 17 years old? You think you know EVERYTHING. And we see that with Rose. The way she is sooooo counter-culture to everything she was raised to be. So edgy, Rose! So what does she do? Goes after the bad boy. She’s literally every 17 year old girl that has ever existed. Remember the church girl you went to high school with who discovered alcohol in college and read “Atlas Shrugged”? That’s Rose. She met Jack and decided “I’ll show my mom!” Bitch you’re 17, just because you like Monet paintings doesn’t make you smart.
And thus, she falls for Jack’s mind games and allows Jack to manipulate her. Jack plays mind game with her, telling her about how he’ll show her this new way of life once they’re off the boat, riding roller coasters and riding horses on the beach. He knows exactly what Rose wants to hear, and spoon feeds it to her. It’s almost too easy. He takes her dancing and drinking at the below deck party…not to repeat myself too much, but legitimately everyone knows a spoiled rich girl with the perfect upbringing who goes through this phase. Jack recognizes Rose is weak, and he takes fullllll advantage of it.
This is the thing- Jack has nothing to lose. He gets off the boat still poor, still homeless, still scratching and clawing for his next meal. Rose has everything to lose. In her mind she is playing out this fantasy future with Jack, a man who she has known for 2 days, who is notorious for taking advantage of people to get what he needs.
So now back to Cal.
Think about Jack and Rose the way I just accurately described them, and think about what he’s dealing with- His fiancé who he has given the world to has spent their entire journey on the grandest ship in the world cheating on him and embarrassing him. And despite all of this, when the boat hit the iceberg, he tried multiple times to save her. He put his own life in jeopardy, rejecting an empty seat on a lifeboat, to try and save the woman he loved. He did everything in his power to try and save her, and to get her away from the homeless passenger who could potentially have her killed. Yes, he has the one slip-up when he slaps her, which I can’t condone. Besides that though, given the time period and the circumstance, he generally keeps his temper pretty level, all things considered. Wish he didn’t do that though.
Also here’s something very important to keep in mind– the entire story is told from Rose’s point of view. So since in her head she met this amazing man Jack, she tells the story as if he’s this perfect man and Cal is the devil, when in reality, we know much different. For example, she has no way of knowing if Jack actually stole the diamond or if it was slipped into his coat. She chooses to believe Jack, but WHY??? I mean really think about it, Jack is a con artist. He’s been conning his whole life. He is poaching on the “poor little rich girl”, he manipulates her, and finally is able to steal the diamond. In Rose’s romanticized mind he loves her, but that’s the whole point I’m making, she is just a dumb kid and doesn’t see what Cal sees. He sees right through Jack’s bullshit but can’t get Rose to see it. Plus we know Jack is a thief because he’s literally wearing a stolen coat. Would it have been dumb to draw Rose with the diamond and then steal it? Sure, but Jack is uneducated and when you’re given the opportunity to steal the world’s most expensive diamond, you do it. Simple as that for a poor guy like him.
And finally, the ending. Yes we can talk about how Rose doesn’t let Jack up onto the floating piece of wood, but people have made claims there wasn’t enough space for him on it. Certainly they should have tried, but I’ll let it slide for right now. The more important part is after Rose gets rescued onto the Carpathia.Who comes looking for her, yet again? CAL. This dude just lived through the most deadly, most catastrophic tragedy possible, and all he wants to do is find Rose. And how does old Rose telling the story end Cal’s story? By laughing that he killed himself. What a great girl.
So there you have it. Next time you watch Titanic, watch it from this point of view. It’s still a great movie, but you will find yourself getting mad at Rose every time she falls for one of Jack’s dumb tricks. Team Cal, forever.