Titanic Attraction in Branson Missouri

Brandon McKinney

Brandon McKinney

Member
>Just a huge axe being ground by spoil sports who weren’t asked to come and play —— or else by know-it-all big-mouths who have made no legitimate contribution to the history of Titanic but think they know best about how that history should be shared.

There, YOU make a slur and a broadbrush against everyone on the opposing side. Jim Kalafus is by no means a know-it-all big mouth. If he was he wouldn't be writing articles for this site. Or are those negated by the fact that he doesn't think the museum is in good taste?

This is a discussion about whether the museum is in good taste or not. I have received no talking points from anyone. I have never heard of TIS, but I have heard of THS. They really should be blushing at what they've associated themselves with.

I have looked at the Branson Museum website and I can't say this is a good museum. I can't say this is an enriching experience for children. I can't say it brings home the 'grim reality' of the disaster. What's wrong with common decency and taste? Is it outmoded? What is fashionable nowadays? Is this some wierd interpretation of "Installation Art?"

I do not know the best way how history should be shared. True. BUT I know by any shadow of a doubt this is NOT even a good way to share history. Edwardian buildings might be icky-poo-poo-yuck-yuck-gloomy, but they certainly would have been more appropriate than this... thing. Whatever it's called.

>Plus, the things I stated about those two people are a matter of record.

Yes, they are. BUT there is one difference. A murder is a murder. Both Lizzie Borden and the Murders of NYC are murders. They deal with people dying, yes, BUT here lies the difference: Titanic was a tragedy. Murders are abberations, abnormalities, they happened and effected only a small amount of people. Titanic, for the most part, effected three whole countries, Ireland, England and the United States. Murders, in general, do not make the nation weep (unless you're talking presidential assassination.) And who said that Jim or Shelley were making a farce of the things they are involved in. Talking about an event does not immediately mean tastelessness and re-enacting it does not equal tackiness and hypocrisy on their part. There is a major difference on how things are being treated. There's nothing wrong IMO with tour guides acting in character, There's nothing wrong with things being presented in Period costume.

It all comes down to one's attitude toward what you are trying to achieve. Jim Kalafus doesn't report on the Murders of Gotham in giant, sweeping tabloid reporter terms. At least I know that's not his nature. I'm sure Shelley doesn't try to make a farce of Lizzie Borden and presents both sides of the story when she re-enacts the part.

There is no hypocrisy among those who criticize the Branson museum. You can't get around the fact that this museum is a sham and is full of tactless wit. I don't think the people who, say play the costumed maids are stupid. They probably love their jobs and good for them. Anyone who knows their common decency would see that this is a giant production by the bigwigs behind this for $$. Not a museum. Not something that is within the boundaries of decency and taste.

Which by the way, begs the question. Does either society, TIS or THS receive money from the profits of this museum?
 
Brandon McKinney

Brandon McKinney

Member
In closing, I think it’s fair to remind people that Mr. Bigham was a "historical consultant" for the Titanic Museum at Branson.
 
R

Randy Bryan Bigham

Member
"….It all comes down to one's attitude toward what you are trying to achieve…."

That’s exactly right. And my attitude toward what I was trying to achieve was one of dedication and genuine concern for the history of the images and documentation that I supplied. I did not get a great deal of money for my time or for the items I allowed to be used. I entered into this project with only my enthusiasm for history, a sense of responsibility to the truth and a desire to see the public educated.

I’m sorry some people are so sidetracked by visual elements not to their taste that they refuse to care about the poignant pieces on display that bear out the story of Titanic and her people. If this was some cheap scheme bent on making a quick buck, the organizers would not have taken the pains or gone to the expense they did to get the finest memorabilia in the world and the best advice they could. You and others are too caught up in the visual of the replicated ship and iceberg. That is MEANT to be an eye-catcher, like seeing a CGI on screen. If you don’t approve of that, fine. But don’t criticize the exhibits of rare and priceless items inside, some of which have never been seen before, and which have an extraordinary story to tell.

"….And who said that Jim or Shelley were making a farce of the things they are involved in…."

Nobody did. The point is their fascination for morbid subjects precludes their being expert judges of what’s reverent or in good taste. It was hypocritical of them to pontificate about taste and a sense of respect when their own are questionable.

"….Anyone who knows their common decency would see that this is a giant production by the bigwigs behind this for $$….."

It’s this sort of comment that I’m tired of. Just because you think the museum is in bad taste or is a big corporate sham what gives you the right to make moral judgments of people who think differently?

"…..I'm sure Shelley doesn't try to make a farce of Lizzie Borden and presents both sides of the story when she re-enacts the part…."

You can talk to Shelley about that. But why aren’t you willing to give the same benefit of the doubt to the collectors and consultants who loaned their artifacts, images and expertise to the museum? Or the general observers who say they have been very moved by the items? If you hate the exterior, write to the company or the designer of the model, but don’t come down on me or others who did the best we could to make the interior features what they are --- beautiful and meaningful
 
J

Jim Kalafus

Member
Good morning, Randy: Always a pleasure to hear from you!

>Jim Kalafus would have posted another boring online diary of his days aboard.

Gee, as I recall a certain journalist cum editor was very enthusiastic about publishing it until, of course, his instability caused me to withdraw from the project. I wonder if he is still working for the same paper? Or did it go the way of the other three or four newspaper jobs in the space of as many years?

I would refrain, in your case, from making any judgements about the talent, or lack of, of anyone, on this board or off. There is an adage about the pot calling the kettle black. Apply it.

As for axe-grinding, your reading comprehension seems a bit rudimentary, so let me explain. Those were Ed Kamuda's words, and those of THS, and not my own. The little parenthetical "Ed Kamudas" and "Commutators" that appeared under those segments indicated source. And it was NOT being mean spirited to point out that a group that was so incredibly strident in their condemnation of Mr. Tulloch and HIS exhibit could lend their name and give their approval to a Titanic exhibit in which entry is gained through the iceberg and the hole in the side of the hull.

>We can be called tasteless hacks

Feeling guilty? I merely said that Kyle was NOT a hack. I never said anyone concerned was tasteless. I said the building was tasteless and some of the exhibits of dubious value. I also said that there is a degree of professional pride that causes many historians to distance themselves from high profile mass market projects that may, long term, tarnish them. Have The Gatekeeper go back and re-read the postings.

>Meantime, Jim Kalafus, a mild-mannered landscape artist, has revealed here on ET that his abiding passion apart from ships is the gory murders of Gotham. He had a long running thread on this message board wherein he discoursed on all manner of highly-tasteful butchery, rapes and the occasional quiet poisoning. Can you imagine what these two might have come up with if they had advised on the Titanic Museum?

And you kept reading, didn't you? I would not, if I were you, continue making references to anything I have written in this manner, lest I be tempted to retaliate in kind. You've given me much ammunition. However, since you brought the concept up, I would have gone into this project with considerably more reverence than your cadre of designers apparently did. If Branson was fait accompli, I would then have attempted to do what the Spanish Pavillion at the 1964 World's Fair did(re-erected, BTW, in St Louis) and create a building of such exquisite taste that it figuratively and literally stole the whole show. To do that, one must eschew representational architecture (like the giant Goodyear Tire back in 1964, or the giant Titanic in 2006) and create something that whispers rather than screams. Or in this case, shrieks. Perhaps you are familiar with the Metropolitan Museum of Art~ it's the big building on the West side of 5th Avenue without the lions in front of it, surrounded by trees, that you see when you head down town (It is visible in When Harry Met Sally, for immediate reference if you have never been there) Anyway, the American Wing and Egyptology section there demostrate PERFECTLY how a museum can be both reverent and interesting without pandering. So, instead of aiming for 'the children of all ages' effect (do you not feel a sense of doom when you see that phrase attached to a project?) that is EXACTLY the effect I'd seek to achieve. I'd insist on a museum that educates both adults and children in a way that does not reduce one to the level of the other. I would ENTIRELY segregate recreations and references to the movie, and if my backers insisted on a grand staircase recreation, that is where the movie bits would be housed. The blurring of the line between historical items, and recreations and props is, at the least, irresponsible. If my backers insisted on a building such as the one you lent your talent to, and an odd mish-mash of reverence and kitsch, I'd withdraw, as surely as many of you should have. If I HAD to take a more flashy approach, the Museum of the Moving Image is another fine example of how something can be interactive but not demeaning.

Your use of the term 'sour grapes' is pathetic. Somewhat akin to a thwarted cheerleader saying 'you're just jealous.' Well...no. You initially responded to Kyle, as you ALWAYS reflexively do in these cases, by turning into Lucile Duff-Gordon and having your 'great lady' outburst of sarcasm. Accompanied, no doubt, in real life by a finger dramatically pointed doorward, a champagne glass hurled at the wall over your opponent's head and a dramatic sobbing collapse onto the fainting couch. You only WRITE about her. You need to lose that act. It wears thin and, like the museum, tarnishes your credibility. You made NO EFFORT at all to address Kyle's points, nor mine, nor Mike's, nor Brandon's, and as for dragging Shelley into your Lucile moment, you may well have noticed that she has adapted a 'wait and see' outlook regarding this project. Axe grinding on your part?

>Jim Kalafus is by no means a know-it-all big mouth.

Thanks for the support Brandon, but I've always found such remarks flattering when they come from below. They only 'hit their mark' when they come from above. People who use double-adjectives in their work can say what they will. I think we all enjoy being branded as Jealous Philistines from time to time, by those who choose to be insulting to dodge relevant criticism.

So, Randy. Here is your big moment to redeem yourself as a historian and an adult:

What is the difference between a Titanic museum in which one enters the building through a hole in the iceberg and a WTC museum entered through a recreation of the impact hole?

What is the educational value of standing on a slanting deck simulation in a fully air conditioned and heated building? Does anyone REALLY think that children will come away from that thinking "now I understand?' Or will it be "Whoa! Cool?"

How many people have reached the age of tying one's own shoes without realising that cold water is cold?

How can a memorial room be reverent if one of its attractions is a morbid parlor game involving admission tickets?

Why the need to blur the line between reality and fantasy with items linked to the movie? You may have noticed that the best Civil War museums do NOT place Gone With the Wind on equal footing with Shiloh, if they mention it at all.

How can people who were so strident towards George Tulloch allow themselves to be linked towards all of the above?

>I could just hear the same old broken record spinning.

You're hearing things. Again.
 
Mike Poirier

Mike Poirier

Member
Randy,
Now if someone writes something, as in a commentary or an opinion, it is fair game. Jim used legitimate quotes from THS in showing that other people have derided the tastes of RMST. Now the shoe is on the other foot. Those same people are involved in a 'exhibit' that perhaps 10 years ago they would have scorned had someone else been involved. That was the point of Jim's post.
Straightforward- no hidden agenda. To him, and possibly to others, perhaps the selling of
Titanic 'cork', 'carpet' or 'caning' at $900 a pop is crass commercialism.

Introducing subterfuge such as Ballard vs TIS and THS vs TIS really has nothing to do with this topic. The topic IS Branson and whether or not people find it in good taste. Now the people involved had plenty to say about other exhibits. That is their right. After all, it is America. Now, people who have read those comments and perhaps deem them hypocritical are calling them out. It is a sense of fairness wouldn't you say? In fact, you say,

>>>It’s this sort of comment that I’m tired of. Just because you think the museum is in bad taste or is a big corporate sham what gives you the right to make moral judgments of people who think differently?>>>

Now the people involved constantly have made 'moral judgements' over the years, and now they are being reciprocated in kind. What would
Eva Hart, who was always touted as the most vocal anti-salvage survivor, say about this museum? I imagine, after meeting her and talking to her at a few functions, she would be horrified.

As I said earlier, this does not negate the interior concepts such as the staircase or the passenger exhibits. Most people will agree that hard work went into that, but is it the right showcase?
Probably from a survivors point of view- no. I doubt not too many victim relatives will attending this 'museum'.
 
Shelley Dziedzic

Shelley Dziedzic

Member
"Most everybody knows of the bad blood between TIS and the Titanic Historical Society "

-This sort of statement being a case in point for the perpetuation of just such a nasty-minded myth.

"Is not TIS the one that had the nerve to solicit an endorsement a few years ago from SOS cleaning pads"

Yes, that was an unfortunate incident where a convention planned out of the country obtained corporate endorsement to help underwrite some minor costs. The copy sent to the programme printer was not screened by anyone on the board of trustees- and that was the result. Over the 16 years TIS has been in existence, the dozen or so corporate sponsors of events have never given printed material which would have caused offense.

"Remember, Shelley may be a church secretary by day but she famously moonlights as a tour guide at the Lizzie Borden House; she is actually Fall River’s official Lizzie impersonator and has appeared in numerous TV documentaries, oh-so-tastefully wielding that hatchet."

Sorry to disappoint, but I have only done one scripted re-enactment for television in 2002, but several interviews for the History Channel and Biography. The 13 hours shoot done for MTV's Real World was deemed too dry and boring for public tastes and was not shown. Too much historical data apparently. The Fall River Historical Society, has recommended me however to universities and schools as a lecturer on the Borden case and trial and history of the Fall River Line and cotton mill industry. I participated in a fund raiser for the society as Lizzie about 5 years ago called History Underfoot, where actors stood by the gravesites of Fall River's famous people and gave 15 minute lectures in character(and there are many other than the Bordens). It netted $5,000 for the historical society renovation and was a great success. I have become too long in the tooth to perform as Lizzie (aged 32 at the time of the trial) with the Little Theatre at the annual two-day August 4th re-enactment, but I still do (unpaid)historical tours (on foot and by chamber of commerce trollies) of the city, the famous inhabitants of Oak Grove Cemetery and the mill district and old steamboat piers. I work one weekend a month as a paid tour guide of the house which has recently been refurbished and the old barn restored as it was on the day of the famous incident. You are quite correct in saying I am a church secretary, however and actually work with the grandson of Lizzie Borden's chauffeur. Small world.

"TIS, an outgrowth of THS"- Uh, not actually the case, but often spit out as Gospel by detractors.

"And Shelley Dziedzic would have performed a can-can routine on the bow to the tune of "My Heart Will Go On."
Hate the song and the knees have not can-canned in ages. 1967 to be exact. I still have the costume.

Randy, I do so enjoy your excellent work on Dot Gibson, Lucile, and Helen Candee and would love to see more in this calibre. Still waiting for the promised article on Edy Russell for Voyage too. As for Branson, one of my favorite passengers, Archie b***, said it best, "Bad temper I can stand- but not bad taste."
 
Shelley Dziedzic

Shelley Dziedzic

Member
p.s.- For the record- Voyage (Journal of TIS) would have been thrilled to have published Dr. Ballard's long rebuttal. It was only offered to the Commutator. So there it is. Still, I am very glad he made the effort to respond anywhere.

Someone passing through the church office and seeing my Titanic painting over the desk said, "You mean there's a website and groups of people who get into hanging out in cemeteries and researching dead people and sunken ships- morbid!"
I rest my case.
 
K

Kyle Johnstone

Guest
>"What’s interesting — and sad —— about this bunch of drivel from self-appointed judges of decency is that several of them are members of Titanic International Society (TIS), an organization known for its sensational schemes and far from highbrow reputation. You can just taste the hypocrisy and — yes — the very sour grapes."<

I posted the first message critical of the museum's architecture.

I have not, until now, have even heard of "TIS"

I have never met any of the people who came out in certain degrees of agreement in my post.

There is no conspiracy here, fercryinoutloud.

What is the point in making this personal?
Is it productive to attack personally people who have a simple difference of opinion?
Why do that? Where does it get you?
It is pointless and counter-productive to take a discussion about A BUILDING down to the dank level of personal attacks.
So we don't agree. Big deal. So what. Who cares. Life's unfair. Move on.
 
Michael H. Standart

Michael H. Standart

Member
>>Blimey!! I have just read the discussion on this thread, after a few days away. No wonder half the moderators have jumped overboard.<<

And right now, as a moderator, I'm sorely tempted to throw this whole bloody thread overboard.

Just a few points:

1) Personal perspectives on the various Titanic societies be they good or ill have no bearing on whether or not there's anything worthwhile about the Branson Museum/Attraction itself.
2)I've been noticing that the above posts are starting to get personal in focus...as in personal attacks...some of which are thinly veiled and some of which are not veiled at all. That's a no-no here.
3) Perhaps now would be a good idea to simply agree to disagree and move on. If anyone cares to continue this discussion, please keep it civil and kindly keep the focus on the matter in controversy which is the Museum/Attraction in Branson and it's perceived merits or lack thereof.

And remember, the points made are fair game, but the person making them is not.
 
Shelley Dziedzic

Shelley Dziedzic

Member
Brandon, -no, TIS receives no profit from the Branson museum. Several members have loaned items on display there. That is a personal decision. Any observations I have made regarding Branson are my own, and not on behalf of TIS. TIS is not affiliated with the attraction but does not impose any restrictions on any member who wishes to be or wishes to exhibit. I do not know about THS and profits. Maybe someone who does know will answer that part of your question.
 
J

Jim Kalafus

Member
>I thought Jim meant Clara could draw the crowds despite being...uh.."late". A tasteless idea, but considering the apparent nature of Branson it ought to be O.K. - especially if it makes money!

> Hmmm....howabout an animatronic Clara Peller singing to her own recordings?
Now that's a thought...
Just think of the low overhead, against what we could charge for admission...
Could we put her on an ostrich do you think?

Perhaps a fusion of both ideas could be made to work in Pellerland: The Where's the Beef Resort at Branson. An animatron of the late Ms. Peller stands at the door endlessly repeating her ca. 1983 catch phrase. One then enters Peller Hall, sees interesting interactive exhibits that pull no punches in telling the whole Peller rags to riches tale, even the dark side (many senior groups hated that commercial- she got fired as a Wendy's spokesperson after a trademark infringement issue) and from there has a choice between entering Peller: The Mausoleum where, Evita-like, Ms. Peller has been enshrined for all to see, or Pellermania, at which Clara lookalike waitresses serve the visitor all the Wendy's they can eat for $5.95 before the lights dim and a series of Clara impersonators offer vocal selections ranging from religious, to country, to pop and old standards.

Now to find backers.....
 
D

Darren Honeycutt

Member
I will never forget what Denis Cochran told me when I asked him if he was a member of any of the Titanic historical groups. I couldn't understand what he was talking about but can now. Its amazing that all these groups can't get along with one another. It seems like they would since everyone is interested in the Titanic.
 
Shelley Dziedzic

Shelley Dziedzic

Member
Actually I believe most do get along famously, share members and articles and authors. I am looking forward to BTS Halifax 2007, and could not be happier that TIS was invited along with others- finally a truly international event, a concept Titanic International had envisioned years ago before so many new societies in various countries were organized. I hope this will lead to a similar effort for 2012.
 
R

Randy Bryan Bigham

Member
"…..Gee, as I recall a certain journalist cum editor was very enthusiastic about publishing it until, of course, his instability caused me to withdraw from the project….."

You mean when you, a so-called professional writer, held up my newspaper’s deadline because you were pouting over not being able to take a frank comment? My only fault in that situation was in relying on you to deliver your promised manuscript. You were the unprofessional, unstable force there.

"….I wonder if he is still working for the same paper? Or did it go the way of the other three or four newspaper jobs in the space of as many years?…."

You and I haven’t spoken or emailed each other in over two years, Jim, so you have no insight into my life now or my employment. To clarify, though, I’ve been freelance since June 2004 and currently edit one paper while contributing to two more. What are you doing? Still mowing lawns for a living at age 40?

"…..I never said anyone concerned was tasteless. I said the building was tasteless and some of the exhibits of dubious value….."

You did indeed imply AND state that all were tasteless for being involved. Try to remember what you write, Jim.

"…..You initially responded to Kyle, as you ALWAYS reflexively do in these cases, by turning into Lucile Duff-Gordon and having your 'great lady' outburst of sarcasm. Accompanied, no doubt, in real life by a finger dramatically pointed doorward, a champagne glass hurled at the wall…."

That’s very clever but you ‘re more of a queen by writing that scenario than I ever could be by performing it.

"…..So, Randy. Here is your big moment to redeem yourself as a historian and an adult….."

I don’t need to justify my credibility by debating anything you or your minions prescribe. My research and writing stand on their own merit. I don’t care what you or others think of me personally.
 
Michael H. Standart

Michael H. Standart

Member
And since we can't seem to keep the acrimony and personal baggage out of here, this thread now stands closed for business.
 
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