“There’s not a thing I won’t do, I’d give my life up for you…” (Chris Brown and Justin Beiber, Next To You) – “I’d catch a grenade for ya / Throw my hand on a blade for ya / I’d jump in front of a train for ya / You know I’d do anything for ya…” (Bruno Mars, Grenade) – The air freezes, so, so coldly, your skin shudders in protest from being doused in ice, the pain sharper than knives. Warmth drains, leaving the heart to pump itself with iced blood. Shivering, your lungs emit shaky puffs of white mist, while your teeth chatter.
Jack: Don’t you do that, don’t say your good-byes.
Rose: I’m so cold.
Jack: Listen Rose. You’re gonna get out of here, you’re gonna go on and make lots of babies, you’re gonna watch them grow. You’re gonna die an old… an old lady warm in her bed, but not here not this night. Not like this, do you understand me?
Rose: I can’t feel my body.
Jack: Winning that ticket, Rose, was the best thing that ever happened to me…it brought me to you. And I’m thankful for that, Rose. I’m thankful. You must do me this honor, Rose. Promise me you’ll survive. That you won’t give up, no matter what happens, no matter how hopeless. Promise me now, Rose, and never let go of that promise.
Rose: I promise.
Jack: Never let go.
Rose: I’ll never let go. I’ll never let go, Jack…
Rose: Jack. Jack. Jack?
The confession of an immortal love, a love beyond this life, and one that is too great to be true has frequently been tied to the sacrifice of the one for the survival of the other, right? You’ve always heard that phrase “I would do anything for you, I’d die for you.” Heartthrob lovers, or wannabe heartthrob lovers, can never keep themselves from blurting out to their significant partners, who unknowingly and a dotingly suddenly react with the batting of eyelashes as if it were the greatest sentence uttered from the lips of mankind, that they would sacrifice themselves for the life of their loved one in a “heart beat”. That’s all well and good, and some call it the lovely I-would-do-anything-for-you mindset of true love. But really, it’s not.
And this is the hypocrisy of that sentiment. It is not the same as the I-would-do-anything-for-you. Here, lover, what is being considered is death, as if it were the best alternative in the world for the person you leave behind. If anything, it is absolutely the most selfish thing you could do! Misunderstand me not. I am not talking of death. I’m not talking of any other context (such as the blessings of saving a life, brave real-life sacrifices, or forsaking a family)but this superficial one: the automatic glorification of the romantic lover in a pair who would kill themselves for the survival of the other. What is so valiant and romantic about that? Once one lover dies for the other, the other has to suffer and bear with the loss of the dead one. Do we ever even think to consider that? The part after The End?
Really, is it the best thing ever to leave the love of your life to live alone, heartbroken, single, devastated, shocked, hysteric, traumatized, miserable, depressed and missing you for the rest of their healing life, which for some is forever (till death)? The one who catches the grenade and blows up into a pink mist, or the one who takes a bullet in the heart itself is all nicely dead and gone—instantly. It’s the people they leave behind who have to still live and suffer when the dust settles. Ironically, wouldn’t true love, then, imply taking on someone’s pain as opposed to creating more of it for them? But that would mean that the traditional lover would have to, strangely, end the other person’s pain (if you know what I mean) and take it on themselves. From this angle that would be the most unselfish and loving thing to do. Paradox much?
There are two sides to every love story and it should depend on what angle we want to think about, really. Is Jack really being the ideal romantic lover here now that you think of it? Look at the dialogue. Why is he forcing Rose to “promise” that she will survive this, go on with her life and live without him, become an old raisin and die alone in her bed without him, 60 years later, regardless of if she is warm, telling her, forcing her, to never let go? Why do we as audiences think this is the most romantic thing Jack could have done? Of course Jack is unbelievably brave and selfless. He’s a man, he can’t let her die. But how selfless is he, really, that he forces Rose to stay alive and he ceases to breathe? Forces her to mourn his loss, to carry on this tragedy in the depths of her soul, and to have her heart go on with an unparalleled longing for him. You could say he wants her to move on and live life, but what about what Rose has to go through to even achieve this? What if this is “true love” and the person can never get over the loss of the other, then what? Suffer the rest of life until you yourself meet death? But think beyond the sinking Titanic. Of all the other epic proclamations of the “selfless” romantic. Really, how selfless is it for the one to go onto the next journey and to leave the other behind, watching? I’m not saying one type of choice is better than the other. Instead, I’m arguing for the consideration of that choice’s effect on not only that person’s image but also on the people around them. The effect on every party needs to be considered before we blindly form instant opinions on anything. Adieu.
Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all those who live without love.