As the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic was on Sunday, through the whole preceding week the TV has been full of all things Titanic, all the while James Cameron's epic movie with Leo and Kate is making Cameron yet more millions of dollars by being re-released in 3-D.
What does one make of all this? Does all of this make sense, or is society as a whole being maudlin and macabre, dwelling on one of the most tragic occurrences on our oceans in history?
Is it a fascination akin to driving by a bad car accident? It's so horrific that nobody can resist slowing down to look at it, all the while whispering to our neighbours about "how awful" it was?
There's a kind of hypocrisy that goes on around horrific tragedies; the media are portrayed as vultures and pariah for reporting on them, but everyone within reach of a paper, a TV or the Internet can't wait until they find out the details of what happened.
It's the same sort of hypocrisy that surrounds tabloids who hound celebrities for photos of them doing something, usually with dark glasses on and pretending to ignore the paparazzi; these types follow celebrities because their fans demand to see photos of them, but on the other hand decry how the paparazzi intrude into the privacy of the celebrity and never give them a moment's peace.
With the Titanic, because the occurrence was one century ago, it's different because no one is alive today who survived that horrific sinking; but, people are endlessly fascinated by what it was like on the ship, and what it was like when it went down, and who all the victims are.
One aspect of this tragedy I found rather disquieting was a major sale held a few days before the anniversary — all artifacts from the Titanic. The rarest are those that were from survivors and never went down, but there were many, many items salvaged from the ship itself and then were sold in this huge auction sale.
There are many historians and others who say the Titanic should be left alone, and indeed the United Nations has designated the ship's site now as untouchable — but the place has already been looted.
Since this was at the time the world's largest ocean liner, the interest in artifacts is going to be high, but to me it should not be legal to sell those artifacts. They should go into a museum where everyone can have access to them.
There are exhibits of this sort, such as one that recently went through Regina; that is the proper venue for the artifacts, and the many hundreds who died going down with the ship should be allowed to rest in peace.