Hey Kids, pack your period costumes. It’s Disaster Re-enactment Month!

Titanic_420065Is it just me or were you also a tad perplexed by the Titanic Memorial Cruise ship that set sail Sunday with 1,309 passengers on board, the same number as were on the Titanic.

The ship intends to retrace the ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic's maiden voyage and stop on the exact spot where the unsinkable behemoth sank 100 years ago. And, quite a few passengers have actually dressed in period costumes for the occasion.

All this re-enacting and dressing up makes me wonder if:

– The captain of the modern craft will mimic his predecessor by disregarding iceberg warnings and cruise at full speed?
– Will he try to slide by the berg instead of ramming it head on (a maneuver many historians say would have damaged, but not sunk, the mighty Titanic).
– And, will the cruise line's owner re-enact White Star's Bruce Ismay shameful behavior that night and dress as a woman in order to escape on one of the few lifeboats?

It's all so bizarre. But, it's also a marketing bonanza for opportunists and a dress-up dream for reenactors gone wild.

So, why stop with re-enacting just the Titanic calamity? A cursory search reveals that April should be named Disaster Re-enactment Month. It's a veritable mother lode of epic tragedies, including:

– The San Francisco Earthquake. April 18, 1906. I think I'd dress as Enrico Caruso, who performed the night before the quake struck. “Mamma mia. This is some crazy city!”
– The Bataan Death March, which began on April 10, 1942. I'd dress as the ill-fated U.S. General Jonathan Wainwright. “I know we outnumber your Japanese army by more than three-to-one, but we're hungry.”
 - The Bay of Pigs. April 17, 1961. I'll roll up my white dress shirt sleeves, play Bobby Kennedy and counsel the president not to rescue the hapless, U.S.-sponsored Cuban freedom fighters. “Let it go, Jack. Besides, er, ah, I have an idea for exploding cigars. We'll get Castro one way or another.”

The month of April also played host to:

– The Chernobyl nuclear disaster (April 26, 1982)
– The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (April 4, 1968)
– The Rodney King riots in South Central L.A. (April 29, 1992).

For serious reenactors like the crackpots on the Titanic Memorial Cruise, April is like Christmas in July! It's a fun-filled, 30-day period when they can recreate countless tragedies, dress in period costumes and live life to the fullest (while all the time dredging up memories of lives lost and families torn asunder). I ask you: is there a better way to spend a vacation?

“Hey honey. Hey kids. Don't forget to pack an extra stack of bibles as well. April 19th is the anniversary of the Branch Davidian disaster in Waco. That'll literally be a blast to re-enact!”

8 thoughts on “Hey Kids, pack your period costumes. It’s Disaster Re-enactment Month!

  1. Sad, but true, Tom. The Virginia Tech shootings also occurred in the month of April. I’m sure your comment would apply in even that instance.

  2. Great points, Julie. I didn’t know about the Beatles-specific disasters. But, on the plus side, wasn’t the Sgt. Pepper album released in April of 1967?

  3. RepMan: You make excellent points. The Titantic “reenactment” cruise is beyond creepy and inappropriate. Some people need to get a life and stop tempting fate.
    I wonder: How would people feel if we “reenacted” 9/11? I think there would be unanimous outrage. I’m sure in 100 years some opportunist looking to make a quick buck will arrange a death tour.
    Two more unfortunate events that happened in April:
    Death of Stuart Sutcliffe: April 10, 1962
    Beatles Official Breakup: April 10, 1970

  4. I agree, PRCarl. There’s a find line between paying one’s respects and capitalizing on an anniversary to make money and merry, respectively. This cruise line crossed the line.

  5. GoToPEngel, you could be right about the reality TV factor. It seems to me that most of people on this cruise are more interested in being part of a nautical version of Downton Abbey than memorializing the people who died.
    If you want to go on a historically themed vacation that is fine. If you want to really pay respects to those who perished, fine. But I don’t think mixing the two is possible. Maybe those on board feel like they can reenact for the first couple of days in their period costumes and then switch to sober remembrance when over the wreck site. Fascinating as the Titanic disaster is, I don’t think I could mix the two.

  6. OMG, this is twice in one week that I agree with RepMan! At least Civil War re-enacters are experiencing history as a hobby; this is beyond creepy.
    You took a humorous look at this. I guess my reaction is more sober. Is the success of this event a reflection of something in our culture? Maybe it’s driven by two decades of reality TV. Or that people need to be part of the suffering of others because they can’t feel for themselves?
    I don’t know, but sometimes I get an idea of what the late Roman Empire must have been like.