A spectacular own goal by the Billionaire Boy’s Club
The hostile water of the Atlantic continues to be a proving ground for hubris
The obsession with the Titanic strikes me personally as ghoulish.
The catastrophe surrounding the OceanGate submarine and its five occupants is the main news at the time of writing. In the United Kingdom, it has edged out the impending meltdown of the economy due to a failure to control inflation, the proceedings of an inquiry looking into government management of the pandemic, and tellingly, the drowning of between a hundred to five hundred people when a packed boat capsized crossing the Mediterranean.
When I first decided to specialise in non-fiction writing, it inadvertently became my introduction of how big the Titanic industry is and how the disaster continues to obsess between the United States, the UK and many other parts of the world. There is, for instance, the Titanic Belfast — a whole shipyard converted to a museum dedicated to the ill-fated ship. Of course, no one has done more to publicise the Titanic more than the James Cameron comedy. The course I enrolled in was taught by Frances Wilson who is the author of an excellent biography of J. Bruce Ismay, the owner of the Titanic titled How to Survive The Titanic (2011).
Notoriously, Ismay grabbed one of the extremely scarce spots on the lifeboats. Given innovation in ship technology at that time, the Titanic was considered and advertised as unsinkeable. It didn’t bother with fussing with safety. There weren’t enough lifeboats for all its passengers and staff. Some boats, already scarce, sailed away half-empty to get away before the ship went down and keep the hoi poloi at bay. Ismay survived unscathed but his employee, Captain E.J. Smith went down bravely with the ship, along with 1,500 other people.
As I write this, weirder and weirder stories are being reported about Stockton Rush, the CEO and founder of OceanGate Expeditions (who is one of the five onboard the lost vehicle). The media has seized upon interviews where he makes brave statements about the nature of adventure and dismisses safety as “pure waste”. Angering the Fox News crowd was his declaration that he didn’t want to hire “50 year old white men” . The video game community has been…