There are only two types of people in the world: tape one Titanic watchers and tape two Titanic watchers. Sure, there are those who have the stamina to sit through all 200 minutes of James Cameron's 1997 classic, but, like, who are you and where do you find the time? Anyway: Way back in '97 (20 years ago today, in fact!), when DVDs weren't a thing and Netflix wasn't even a word, we had VHS tapes. Because Titanic was so long, it couldn't fit on one singular tape and was split in two—everything before the iceberg, and then everything after the iceberg. It's an easy split, and sensible, but it's surprisingly telling, too. Because there's a certain kind of person who skips straight to tape two, and cuts right to the violence of the sinking. On the flip side, there are those people who only watch the first tape, avoiding the peril, trauma, and d-r-a-m-a of the second?
Let's break it down a bit further...
First, tape one is all about the romance. It's about Jack courting Rose, Rose courting controversy, and the class system courting silly rules that look down upon hawking loogies from the upper decks and unbridled dancing to fiddle music. It is a fine way to introduce a catastrophically doomed love affair. It is the equivalent of having your cake and eating it, too: You get all the grandeur of the Titanic and Cameron's expansive vision without any of the sadness. It's like stopping Romeo and Juliet right after Romeo and Juliet get married, leaving you blissfully ignorant of the tragedy yet to unfold. The hope in the Titanic's Captain Smith's saying, "Take her to sea, Mister Murdoch" is palpable. What a high! What a thrill! The luxury of it all is enticing and easy to get lost in. Tape one of Titanic is essentially one giant, expensive rom-com set on a very real, very big boat. Oh, and it's the tape with all the sex. I guess tape one fans would rather remain afloat in their positive emotions than, you know, sink with the ship.
Because, as a tape two person myself, I have to say that the tragedy is the real reason we, tape two people, tune into Titanic. Don't lie. We love to rubberneck, and the tragedy of the Titanic is the ultimate rubberneck we were not alive to witness firsthand. I challenge you to find anyone who doesn't lose it when that helpless mother and child ask Captain Smith, "Captain! Captain! Where should I go?" before he straight-up goes into the Titanic's cockpit to go down with the ship. Tape one is pure fantasy, whereas tape two is brutal reality. Tape two people like their action fast and packaged nicely. The actuality of what happened, when the Titanic headed toward its doom, is incredibly captivating. Tape two is the sinking, the real thing that happened to real people. The sheer magnitude of human error, our hubris and feebleness, is world-shaking to behold. Pair that with James Horner's impeccable score, complete with turbine thwacks, and you've got yourself an action sequence that will rattle you to your core. Tape two people are lovers of tragedy.
To put it in .GIF form:
Tape one people are like this...
Tape two people are like this...
If the zodiac signs were Titanic VHS tapes, they'd be...
Tape One: Cancer, Pisces, Virgo, Capricorn, Libra, Aquarius
Tape Two: Scorpio, Leo, Aries, Gemini, Sagittarius, Taurus
If the tapes were alignment charts...
Tape one people go between being Chaotic Good and Lawful Neutral.
Tape two people fall between being Lawful Good and Chaotic Evil.
As Disney Princesses?
Tape one: Cinderella, Snow White, Anna, Pocahontas, Tiana
Tape two: Mulan, Jasmine, Belle, Ariel, Elsa
Finally, if you start watching the first tape of Titanic at 9:58pm on New Year's Eve, you'll hit play on the second tape right at midnight! Start the new year off right—aka with the best tape. Or don't. Sometimes extended foreplay, like tape one, is what's necessary for a good time.