Milvina Dean, the last still-living survivor of the Titanic (which sank in 1912), has come out passionately against the latest Doctor Who Christmas special, "Voyage of the Damned…" an episode which doesn’t actually take place on the historic Titanic at all, but on a spaceship named Titanic.
Despite this, Dean’s upset. "The Titanic was a tragedy which tore so many families apart," said Dean. "I lost my father and he lies on that wreck. I think it is disrespectful to make entertainment of such a tragedy." There’s a lot wrong with that statement.
Leaving aside whether or not the Doctor Who Christmas special is somehow disrespectful to people who died nearly 100 years ago (and it isn’t), the idea that people should not be entertained by tragedy is out-of-touch with reality. Being entertained by tragedy is the basis of drama. And let’s not forget that highly respectful films such as Schindler’s List may be poignant, moving and sensitive, but those films are also entertaining by token of those very same qualities. Being entertained by a dramatization of a tragedy is not the same as being disrespectful to the survivors.
There is undeniably a certain reverence due to people who survived great calamities. A concentration camp survivor has undergone pain and exhibited bravery the likes of which dwarves the minor calamities of my life. Likewise (although, I think, to a lesser extent), a person who survived the sinking of the Titanic knows something about hardship that I will never understand, no matter how much I shake my fist at the sky and rail against the invisible old man who lives up there. Mrs. Dean has gone through things I can’t even imagine. My hat is tipped to her.
But all that being said, when it comes to a nonagenarian Titanic survivor whining about the insensitivity of the latest Doctor Who Christmas special without even having seen it, and apparently without realizing it has nothing to do with the tragedy that ripped her life in half, I’m firmly in the "Cram it , lady" camp.
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