Belmont Club

Nearer My Gaia, To Thee

When A Night to Remember was released in 1958 no one had to inform the audience that it was a fictional depiction of a real event. But on the hundredth anniversary of the Titanic tragedy there were fewer left to remember. The centenary produced a strange blizzard of messages on Twitter. One said: “I didn’t know Titanic actually happened, thought it was just a film.” Another added “holy s— im never gooing on a cruise.”  Of course, the Titanic’s voyage wasn’t actually a cruise in the modern sense. Lest people think: “that was so unnecessary — why didn’t they just take the plane?” the answer is back in the day ships were the only way people could travel over the ocean. Really.


If some things become real because they’re in the movies, as in “I know it’s true, oh so true, ’cause I saw it on TV,” or so the song goes, the rival point of view is that nothing is truly real. Everything’s a movie.

You can’t just assume the context any more. There were enough viewers in the audience of  A Night To Remember who had living memory of the actual Titanic disaster to implicitly know it was once a real news story. There were probably enough people around in the 1950s to remember when guns were once used to defend civilization against tyrants.  And nobody needed to explain that kids playing GI Joe were neither doing something antisocial nor were they fixing to be the next Lee Harvey Oswald.

By contrast, you have to explain that sort of thing today. For example, Pippa Middleton, who is related by marriage to Britain’s Royal Family was said to be in serious legal trouble after someone in her car pointed a toy gun at paparazzi.

Royal bridesmaid Pippa Middleton could face arrest and interrogation after a friend aimed a gun at a photographer in Paris, reports The Sun newspaper.

Pictures published by the British newspaper show the younger sister of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, in the front seat of a convertible as the male driver produces the gun and takes aim to the amusement of another man in the car.

French authorities are cracking down on gun crime in the wake of a recent shooting in Tolouse where seven people, were killed, and police are poised to launch an investigation into Saturday’s shocking event which could include Pippa’s arrest, The Sun reported.

“If the evidence points to her involvement, she will be prosecuted,” an unnamed source said of Pippa.

“Anybody involved in the illegal use of a handgun in public is liable to arrest and interrogation.”

Even if the gun was found to be fake, punishment for such crimes can include jail time, The Sun said.


Never mind that she didn’t the point the gun. Never mind that the thing was in fact fake, and shown to the photographers. “One of the photographers said after Middleton’s car stopped, he got to hold it, and it was obviously fake.”  She was guilty by association. Tainted by proximity to somebody who had a toy gun.

But those who think this mania over guns is overblown don’t understand. There’s a serious Toy Disarmament movement, led by “people [who] believe they can teach children violence”.

In 2007 … the National Union of Teachers in England argu[ed] that toy guns “symbolize aggression” and that encouraging boys to play with them fosters gender stereotypes …

Toy guns were removed from the Sears Roebuck 1968 Christmas catalog after the assassinations of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. and U.S. Senator, former United States Attorney General, and presidential candidate Robert Francis Kennedy.

English Children’s Clown Barney Baloney AKA Tony Turner is a practitioner of balloon modelling. He was banned from providing children with shaped toy balloons because a national supermarket chain said the latex may be harmful. Barney stated “I also go into schools to entertain children and recently in Rotherham I was told that I mustn’t make guns out of balloons because it could encourage violence but I was told it was okay to make swords”


People no longer remember the time when a Lee-Enfield or an M1 Garand was all that stood between mankind and enslavement. Today it’s a symbol of gender stereotypes. And you can’t tell them they’ve taken leave of reality because they no longer remember what reality is. All they know about it now is what they’ve seen in the movies or watched on TV.

Fortunately Calvin was taught how reality actually worked. When he asks his dad why old photos are always in black and white, his father explains. “In fact those old photographs are in color. It’s just that the world was black and white back then.”

But to Calvin it doesn’t make sense. The boy asks, “but then why are the old paintings in color? If the world was black and white, wouldn’t the artists have painted it that way?”

That’s easy to explain, says dad. The paintings, like all other real objects, were also in black and white but turned colors right around the time color film became commonplace.  It’s reality that changes to fit the narrative, not the other way around. When faced with a decision between logic and the symbol, print the symbol.

Patrick Pexton, the Washington Post’s ombudsman, described his agony over whether to put a story that Obamacare would actually cost double what it was originally said to cost on the front page. “Putting the story on A3 was the right judgment for a print publication. Montgomery urged her editors, correctly, not to put it on the front page: it wasn’t worth that.” However, the online readers thought differently.  “On The Post’s Web site, the story took off, even though it was prominent on the home page for only a short time. It immediately entered the partisan spin cycle of exaggeration, distortion and hyperbole.” As in someone figured out that the Titanic really happened.


There’s one last loose end. Some may ask: what is color film? Don’t you remember Kodachrome? Oh you don’t? Well never mind. It was something that once existed. Like the Titanic.

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