It's been 20 years since Titanic sailed into theaters, and instructed our hearts to go on (and on). In that time, the romance between Rose Dewitt-Bukater (Kate Winslet) and Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) has joined the canon of epic cinematic love stories, alongside legends like Antony and Cleopatra, Sandy and Danny, and, most recently, Oliver and Elio.
I was 7 when the movie came out, and completely mesmerized by Leo's blonde locks. The prospect of running off with a handsome penniless artist and leaving a stiff life of privilege behind seemed like the grown-up version of a Disney fairytale.
Here's the thing though: The hindsight of nearly two decades has made me realize that theirs isn't a romance one should aspire to.
To put it another way — if a guy you had just met decided to flip through his artistic renderings of the naked women he's been with during your first date, you'd be out of there, right? What about when he tells you that he's been wandering around the globe chasing adventure, and that he has no fixed address at the moment because he's finding his true self? I mean, who needs running water when you have art? Also, these aren't crayons — he doesn't buy into that kind of commercialism — they're literally scraps of charcoal that he whittles with his pocketknife.
If this all sounds kind of familiar, that's because Jack belongs to a recognizable breed known in the wild as the fuccboi.
The fuccboi is a superficially seductive creature. They feed you lines about abandoning the social structures laid out before you, weaving tales of wild sex by campfire, and days filled with riding rollercoasters in Santa Monica. But that kind of unpredictability has a dark side: They're notoriously unreliable, often going days without answering your telegrams, or whatever the 1912 equivalent of a text is.
The reason Jack and Rose's romance is so enshrined is really because it's short and sweet. Because Jack dies prematurely, we never get to see the second act in which he ghosts Rose, leaving her stranded in New York City without money, family, or friends.
Billy Zane's character may be the kind of mansplainer who will forcefully order for a woman in restaurants, but at least he provides stability — not to mention restoring Rose's family fortune to its former glory. And therein lies the issue. Too often, women who choose partners for pragmatic reasons are disparaged for doing so. Unless you're willing to run off with every floppy-haired stranger, you're boring/hard/cold/scary, or a gold-digger. Choose no one at all, and you're frigid.
Perhaps Rose inherently knows all of this, and that's why she refuses to to let Jack on her door. Better to watch a fuccboi freeze to death than to have him disappear the second you hit dry land. And really, despite all the trappings of love, Titanic is her story. She doesn't need a man to emancipate her — especially not one who thinks hocking a loogie is a rare form of seduction.
See ya, Jack — this girl's got the Heart of the Ocean to keep her warm at night.