She Said/She Said: Did Jack Dawson Really Have To Die In Titanic?

PHOTO: 20TH CENTURY FOX/PARAMOUNT/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK.
Whether you think Titanic is the greatest cinematic love story ever told or an overwrought melodrama, you are probably aware of the Jack Did/Didn't Have To Die Debate, a controversy so heated that even Rose Dewitt Bukater herself (i.e., Kate Winslet) has weighed in. And now, Titanic's most iconic set of pipes has offered her opinion. On Friday’s episode of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Celine Dion said Jack shouldn’t have waited for an invitation to hop on that door. It’s a fresh take in a discussion that has gone on (and onnnnnnnn) longer than Celine's heart.
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Here, Refinery29 Canada's senior writer Kathleen Newman-Bremang and contributor Courtney Shea take a side in a she said/she said debate.

She Said: The Ending Is Correct & Everyone Needs To Calm Down

By Kathleen Newman-Bremang
I can’t believe we’re still talking about this in 2019, but OK, I’ll bite. There was no room on the door. Jack tries to get up TWICE. Rose is shivering in icy cold waters and can barely talk, let alone think straight. Jack has no choice but to sacrifice himself for the woman he fell in love with on a boat in less time than a season of The Bachelor. Logistically, Mythbusters tried their own Jack/Rose door test, and Jack could only fit on the door — while it stayed afloat — if he and Rose tied her lifejacket to the bottom. What? Who is thinking clearly of science while they are freezing in the middle of the Atlantic? Listen, it just wasn’t going to happen, but that’s beside the point.
My biggest beef with this conversation is this: Can't we just let movie endings be great? All of you door truthers need to tell me what your endgame is. Do you want an ending where Jack gets on the door (after the super romantic, cinematic moment where they do some math and secure a lifejacket to the bottom, of course) and they live happily ever after? Please. Jack and Rose would have lasted a year together (TOPS) on the mainland before she went running back to her family money and the life she’s accustomed to. That’s really the ending you want? You want to deprive us of the moment the light leaves Jack’s eyes when he realizes he’s going to sacrifice himself? You want to change the moment Rose finds the strength to swim her way to a whistle and to her survival? Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet are acting their asses off. Two stars were born in that scene. Can we give James Cameron some credit for giving us a tear-jerking, beautiful, and shocking ending that left us all in our feelings? Before Game of Thrones made the death of heroes tragically expectable, there was Jack. Jack walked so Robb Stark could run. For the love of Irish dancing and spitting over the railing in the name of love, let us have this.
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She Said: Love Means Making Room On The Raft! Jack Could Have Made It

By Courtney Shea
For the record, I’m not one of those people who thinks Titanic is a masterpiece. I’d take Good Will Hunting — also nominated for best picture in 1998 — over the sinking boat movie any day. The scene where Robin Williams talks about his dead wife farting in bed articulates undying love in a language that James “King of the World” Cameron simply doesn't speak. And if we’re going to get into the debate around whether Jack Dawson had to die or not, Cameron's failure to understand the complexities of human emotion (cough, cough Avatar) is kind of the entire point. Because at this point, the door drama is settled. I know it. You know it. This class of teenage math students knows it. After getting shot down on Mythbusters*, even James Cameron finally conceded that, “maybe [I] screwed up and the board should have been a little tiny bit smaller.” And then he changed his story, claiming that Jack’s death was an artistic choice and was the right one. Because apparently when you’re stuck on a floating piece of driftwood with the person you love more than anything, “letting go” is the ultimate romantic expression. It’s what his movie hinges on, and yet…
THAT WOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED!! First, let's look at Jack, a character who risked life, limb and perfect blond lock to get on that ship, win Rose’s heart and add her to his erotic art collection. Now he’s just going accept his fate as human popsicle? Please! And if you don’t believe me, believe Neil deGrasse Tyson (astrophysicist and possible smartest man on the planet) who has called b.s. on Titanic’s most tear-inducing scene, saying that Jack would have fought harder to save himself, his love of Rose notwithstanding. “The survival instinct is way stronger than that in everybody, especially in [Jack’s] character. He’s a survivor, right?” Right.
Which leaves us with Rose — a young woman so desperately devoted that she disowns her family, breaks up with Billy Zane and jumps out of a lifeboat all in the name of everlasting love. And then suddenly she’s sprawled on the floating door like it was a chaise lounge at Club Med North Atlantic??? I’m not saying they would have been together forever. I agree that Rose probably would have missed certain creature comforts, Jack would have entered his supermodels and Supersoakers period and the whole romance would have imploded. But, that’s not the point. The point is that Rose letting Jack sink away is either a totally implausible act or it’s an indication that she is not who we thought she is. So which movie are we watching James Cameron? The greatest floating love story every told? Or one about a selfish, rich girl who goes slumming in steerage then can’t be bothered to move over? If it’s the first, it simply doesn’t add up. And if it’s the second then hell no, Jack didn’t have to die. He could have directed his baby blues at the Unsinkable Kathy Bates and sailed off into the sunset on her ample bosom. What? As if that's not a sequel worth considering.
*In the much-discussed Mythbusters episode, the ultimate conclusion was that Jack's death was needless. They do say that tying a lifejacket underneath would have provide the best chance of survival, but not the only one. With even weight distribution and a little luck, their love could have survived the icy waters.
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