Attitudes and Class Distinction

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Lars Lifvendahl

Guest
Hi,
I know there are different thoughts about Cameron's Titanic film. I agree that it is very nicely done, replicas are fantastic, yes.
The sad thing is that Cameron didn't care for the attitude of the time but for today's attitude.
Just an example: Jack meets Rose on the Grand Staircase (famous picture) and walk her to the dinner. On their way they meet Ruth and Cal. Cameron wants to show us that Ruth and Cal are "the rich ones who don't care if the poor drownes." In this seen Cal says something like: -Oh, Dawson! (Looking at his suit) One could almost take you for a gentleman!
Jack: -Yea....Almost.

According to my opinion Cal WAS NOT rude to Jack in this scene. Dawson simply looked rich and in 1912 that was a way a real gentleman should be.
Frankly, if you were wealthy you were a BETTER PERSON. And of course we think it's crazy today, but 89 years ago this was obvious for everyone -even among the poor people!
I also think it's strange that Rose is so consious about the difference between her way of living "in a life with endless partys and no real meaning" and Jack's, when this is the way she's lived her whole life!
Cameron wants us to think: It's better to be poor and happy than rich and sad. I totally agree. But it's unfair to picture the 1912 upper class as "evil people" when they weren't. At least not in 1912 standards.

I hope someone agree with me.
Lars
 
Apr 11, 2001
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Good point Lars- it is a place were Cameron does get it wrong-stereotyping and painting the entire segment with the same brush. I am hard-pressed to think of a single first-class treatment which was sympathetic. The women were positively mercenary snobs with no redeeming social values. Surely this was not the case. Nor were the third class cretinous animals on a rampage, drunken oafs or the dregs of society. Cameron's generalizations and reliance on old cliche stories undermined his multimillion dollar epic. Still, with all its faults, SOS TITANIC did present a sympathetic and more realistic portrayal of the third class hopes and dreams, aspirations and family life aboard-especially in the 3 hour version. I hope someday SOMEONE will get this story right- but after Cameron, it may be many years before someone tries. Actually I think the general public may be quite saturated with Titanic- not all are as focused on it as we are here.
 
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But, the stero-typing still continues to this day!
I am sorry to say, but there is such snobbery in the world. I believe it all boils down to the person themselves and who they preceive themselves to be. I have met many of the "rich" and the "elite". Some of them could care less if you exsisted, where others of this class actually treated me like a human being!!

How many "blue bloods" have you met who are "old money"? Some are very real people with real values, especially when it comes to human life... on the other hand, there is the exact opposite of side of the coin.

How many "stars" or "rock gods" have you met who feel that they are "better than everyone else" and compare themselves to God??? That other creatures in the species were developed to serve him or her and that is their only value or acknowledgement. "Please, don't step into my universe, you don't belong here".

There are clubs in the Hampton's that if you do not come from "such-n-such" a family or make "X" amount of $$$ a year and have such-n-such a title, then you can forget even trying to get in the door let alone trying to socialize with one of them.

I am sorry, but those have been my experiences and unfortunatley, that is the "real world".

Respectfully,

Beverly
 
Jul 10, 2005
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I forgot to add in my ranting of the suppossal "upper class", that Cameron did portray Molly Brown as being a humanitarian. She did assist Jack with the Tux, she did try to comfort the people in the lifeboats, she did try to get them to go back for more.

Maybe in 1912, the "upper class" were not as snooty as today, but from some of the "blue bloods" that exsist today, I am sure that there was some of that "haughty pride" in 1912 as well.

It had to come from somewhere, passed down to today's generation didn't it? Look at Cain and Able???

Anywho.. sorry to rant and rave over the whole ordeal, but I believe there was just as ugly an arrogance then as there is now.

Respectfully,

Beverly
 
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Graham Pickles

Guest
Hi Beverly.

I could not agree with you more. you have put to writing what a lot of people believe but dare not say, or will not say.
Of course snobbery go's on now and will always go on. Hierachy will always be there in all walks of life.

You mention clubs in Hampton, There are clubs all over the place who will only allow membership if your checkbook is big enough. I can name two or three in England.

This typ of social class spreads to other walks of life. Try to get information out of someone who is assumed to be a proffesional.
You may look up to that person for guidence but if your face dont fit forget it!

You mention Molly Brown, you say.
>"that Cameron did portray Molly Brown as being a humanitarian. She did assist Jack with the Tux, she did try to comfort the people in the lifeboats, she did try to get them to go back for more. ">
Ok she has made a cock and hoop out of what happend in the lifeboat,now lets think what would of happend if the lifeboat was returnd to the disaster area. It may of been swamped and sunk by poor people trying to gain access to it. What would Molly of said then. She told them not to return perhaps.
Double standards and snobbery will be a part of life now and in the past and always for the years to come.

Regards
graham
 
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Rolf Vonk

Guest
Hi There

As always I would say: Long live the Bourgeoisie! I prefer second class, cause it's in the middle. I think it is very, very bad that Mr Cameron didn't mention second class in his movie. Just to make the contrasts big he created a world of very poor and very rich. There's no golden mean.

Lars said that you were a better person back in 1912 when you were wealthy. I really don't agree! Of course there was this class society with it's rich and poor, but there was also a rang society back in 1912. That had nothing to do with money. In my town one had the Lord/Lady, the priest, the people from the abbeys, the schoolteacher or the burgomaster. None of them extremely poor or extremely rich. But due to their rank they were 'better'. A class system has nothing to do with 'better', but the rank system does. When you have money in a class system you can get everything, cause the class system is about money! When you pay enough for a first class ticket you get into first class. Of course you could be seen as nouveau riche or a kind of parasite, but so what? You were in first class!

Any thoughts?? I like to hear them!

Regards,
Rolf
 
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Lars Lifvendahl

Guest
Thanks a lot for your thoughts!!!
This is really interesting!

Rolf: I guess I must add something to my idea of being a better person if one was rich back in 1912; Let's take the Estonia for example, She sinks /catastrophe/The day after newspapers shout; this and this famous person and this and this Countess did/didn't survive! (Like the days after April 15 1912, when one wondered if Mrs Astor's diamonds had been saved or not when hundreds of steerege passengers not even had been mentioned.)
What would the public reactions be?
"-So, it's more important to let people know about the rich people dying than the unknown (let's say "poor".)
Of course people would react on this today! In 1912, however, people looked up to the wealthy and powerful in a different way. Have any one ever seen the TV Production "Upstairs and Downstairs (I love it!); the most conservative persons in the house are actually the staff; they know what's suitable or not suitable much better than the Lord and Lady themselves! I believe that was pretty much the attitude amongst the pre-war middle class and the "ordinary people".

PLEASE don't misunderstand me here: I am aware of that in 1912 ,as today, many persons of the upper society were snobby and some may even have been mean.
Beverly: Molly Brown was personalized as a friendly, upper society of Cameron. I am sure she was but this is a good point; Molly is Newmoney (as Ruth puts it) = ex poor "ordinary" woman + much money.
She is still "humane" and takes care of Jack and people in the boats.
I'm sure Molly Brown was an extraordinary lady. But it seems like Cameron wants us to like her because she is "a bit like us" if we would suddenly become millionaires and enter the door of some snobby club in Hampton without any Oldmoney.
Shelley: I totally agree with you; I think SOS Titanic did present a better picture of the steerege as well as the second class. By the way: SOS Titanic was the first Titanic film I saw so I have special feelings for it. Do you know where to find the 3 hours version? I didn't know it exist!
Sincerely,
Lars
 
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Rolf Vonk

Guest
Hi Lars,

Surely agree with you! This thread becomes interesting!

Aren't you going a bit too far with Estonia? The disaster was of course terrible, but in the papers I could only read about some Dutch truckers who should have been onboard, about the bodies in the icy cold waters of the East sea and the defect door. No word about lords, countesses etc.

What about Titanic? Of course the papers were full of well-known names, but not only rich people! Would you call Rev John Harper and Charles Eugene Williams rich? Just normal second class passengers but certainly well-known in England and America.

And I have something to add to the well-known names. As I said before in another topic, we have to understand that the passengers aboard Titanic in the first place were formed by the Anglo-American people. Especially the first class was full of Americans and English. Very much of them were well-known in the Anglo-American world. Astor and Guggenheim even in other parts of the world, but people like Thayer, Widener, Ryerson and Carter said nothing to the crowd on the European continent. Because of this I think it isn't strange at all that they aren't mentioned in many European papers. For example the Dutch papers mentioned only people with Dutch connections (or thought to be Dutch) For that reason we see Jonkheer Reuchlin (Ok, he's Dutch nobility), Mr Lewy (diamond Trader with Amsterdam connection), Mr Birnbaum (diamond trader with Antwerp connection) and Mrs Hogenboom (no Dutch connection, but a Dutch name). Well, none of all were really very extremely wealthy. Belgian papers mostly mention Belgian Titanic connections and so on. And don't forget that they mention THIRD CLASS passengers! I'm sorry to say so, but it were especially the Americans and English who made the heroic stories about their national well-knowns, not the other Europeans. In the case of Titanic this point of view is brought to the front, cause most of the Titanic books are of Anglo-American kind. That's not strange when most of the passengers were American, English or from other English speaking countries. I wonder what the effect was, when you putted lots of well-knowns from the European continent aboard: Krupp, Hohenzollern, Sarah Bernhard, Mata Hari and so on.

Well, what does this whole story tries to say? Just that many European countries mentioned their own inhabitants in the main case, no matter to what class they belonged. When you talk about the rich people you refer in the first place to well-known ones from Anglo-American soil.

What do you think? I'm curious!

Regards,
Rolf
 
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Lars Lifvendahl

Guest
Hi Rolf!
First of all I must make my self clear on the Estonia example; I didn't say this news thing DID occur; I only tried to compare the two accidents and see the differences between them. I know of course there were no news that only mentioned the rich/famous people. As you put it
The newspapers that "only mentioned the rich people in 1912" :
... I think I must have meant the New York papers.(not ONLY the rich of course but they were considered as most important.) You say other countries wrote about there people and yes I know they certainly did. But let's look at the US papers; there was more Americans in 3rd class than in 1st Class, wasn't it? So, why didn't the papers care about them as much as the 1st Class passengers?
I would love to read a book of the Dutch aboard or the Belgians. Perhaps I get an other point of view afterworlds.

Sincerely,
Lars
 

Sam Brannigan

Member
Feb 24, 2007
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I think Walter Lord made a good point when he stated that it was the rich and famous, be it inherited or earned wealth, who were the superstars of the Edwardian era and earlier. As he rightly says Sports stars were still beyond the pale and film stars were still a long way from the adulation they receive today.

If the Titanic were to sail today, and aeroplanes did not exist, it would be fair to say that the newspapers and media would be plastered with stories about rock stars, film stars and sportsmen who had gone down with the ship and not those who are rich merely for the sake of it.

The principle is still the same though. You and I would only receive maybe a line at the bottom of the page while the famous filled the pages...because we don't sell papers.

I agree with Lars that Cameron treated the First Class passengers with some disdain, and I believe unfairly so.

If anyone was to "blame" for the high proportion of first class males saved in comparison to third class children it was the crew.

How many times have we heard the stories about third class passengers being kept below decks and the first class men who were helping women into boats not being able to "find any more"?

Such notables as Ismay and Charles Hays jumped into a boat after no more women could be found, and Hays actually stood back from his boat before being invited to get in.

The examples of Astor, Stead, Butt and many other first class men were seriously underplayed in the film. Could you imagine the lavish treatment Tom Cruise, Sir Paul McCartney or Tiger Woods would receive in the media today for such heroic behaviour?

I rest my case.

Regards

Sam
 
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Stacie Crowther

Guest
I have read many books and watched many movies on the Titanic and found out interesting information. Third class was kept behind locked gates to keep them from mingling with the other passengers mostly because of the fear and belief by the American Immigration that they tended to carry diseases as a result of both poverty and their emergence from not as developed countries. So White Star had nothing to do with the placement of the segregation gates as they blatantly state through some of the sources.It was made clear these American officials
wanted steerage to embark, travel, and disembark separately to insure that disease could not spread. Of course the crew had to obide by these rules implemented by their superiors. Cameron displays this reality in the Third Class Inspection Scene on boarding day in Southampton.

Of course there was the old Gilded Age mentality that stated third class could not mingle with first class because they weren't "good enough." After all, they paid a considerablly less amount than the first class.

When I saw Titanic I cried when I thought of those poor third class people wanting to build new lives and instead losing their lives. I think of all the immigrants who came to America with nothing in their pockets and laid foundations to build great success for their decending relatives. All of my relatives came from Greece during that time as steerage passengers on other liners and now I can actually get a feel of what they experienced.

Sinvcerely,
Stacie C
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Hi Stacie, I have to point out in all fairness that the fear of disease was not without some justification. Extreme poverty and disease are well known bedfellows, and that was one of the ugly realities that these people were trying to leave behind.

Cordially,
Michael H.Standartt
 
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Patricia Bowman Rogers Winship

Guest
Another aspect of the Cameron film that has always disturbed me is the relationship of Rose's mother to her daughter and Cal Hockley. I think that a mother's allowing her daughter's fiance to share their suite would have been thought scandalous at that time-- as though she was prostituting her child.

Pat Winship
 
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Stacie Crowther

Guest
Hi Michael, thank you. I just did not want to sound classist by stating so even though it is not classism speaking. it is the truth and people are so sensitive at times and avoid stating the the truth as you did.

Stacie
 
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Jason Smith

Guest
The most ridiculous thing about the whole concept is how a woman who has lived her whole life in the lap of absolute luxury would give it all up to run off with a penniless bum!

I mean, in real life, how long would it take her to get bored with Dawson, the poor artist? After a month or two of eating out of rubbish bins and sleeping under filthy railway bridges, nasty old Cal and his oversized bank account wouldn't seem too bad.

To suggest that this romance would tempt a rich woman like Rose away from her sheltered life into a life of squalor is absurd. Even though she was sheltered, I can't believe that she wouldn't understand the principle of being broke.

And there are the ridiculous character attitudes too. As some other posters have pointed out. The characters walk, talk and speak like modern day people.

Pah! In those days there were massive class divisions along the lines of wealth and race in europe and America, reflected in people's attitudes. 1912 was the time of the British and european empires, public schools, European world dominance.

It was a man's world, where women knew their place and children were seen and not heard. A world where gentlemen offered to escort 'unprotected' ladies and opened doors for them.

Huh! Anyway, I thought that the special effects were very good. And it did try to stick to the accepted history. Although, not mentioning the Californian was a loss to the film...
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Jason, you would be astonished at what would tempt women...and men...away from the "good life." Were humans completely rational about such things, people like Ann Landers, Abby and Dr. Laura would be out of a job!

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Apr 11, 2001
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There's a great book called WILD WOMEN about those daring ladies who broke all the rules and became doctors and reporters and even aviatrix! By 1912 there were many intrepid gals like Rose- the suffragettes were steaming ahead and lust and love affairs between social classes was nothing new. Reading the Smith letters I was surprised to find phrases I thought were contemporary- profanity and the middle finger salute were all there in 1912! One tends to think of the past as stuffy and formal- and indeed is in some social circles- but LOVE is timeless in any generation and we will all be fools. Edith Wharton (herself a wild woman) wrote about the constrictions in the mid- late Victorian time-Age of Innocence being a good example- after the Civil War, and certainly after WWI, women came into the workplace-the invention of the typewriter put our gals in offices and for once it was respectable not to be a wife, mother, nurse or governess. Divorce had lost its stigma in the Newport Society of 1912 too and a lady need not hide her face in shame as perhaps was the case in the 1880's. We've come a long way baby!
For the Smith Letters, go to
http://www.geocities.com/revdma2/letters.html
 
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Jason Smith

Guest
Huh! Okay, I see your points. I guess that everyone is different in life. Although the acquisition of personal wealth is universal in life
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I still find it a bit unlikely that a super rich person would willingly leave all that wealth to run off with someone who didn't have two pennies to rub together
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I mean, when you actually think of all the things people will do for money and to get rich in our greedy, commercial, nice men come in last world
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Anyway, what do you think of these nice colours
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Tracy Smith

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Apr 20, 2012
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Rose was seventeen.....and seventeen year olds tend to be quite romantic.

And Cal gave strong clues that he was going to be a abusive husband. Though most women of that time were not as independent as those today, no self respecting woman of any time was eager to be married to someone who would abuse her.