Hollywood is home to a multitude of movies that have become the topic of endless debates. While those who've watched Inception quarrel about Cobb's fate, all Blade Runner fans have calculated Deckard's chances of being a replicant. In addition to that, James Cameron's Titanic has also managed to make an unexpected entry, putting forward one of the most iconic deaths of all time. So, could Jack have survived climbing atop that door? Celebrated astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson thinks he most definitely should have.
Neil deGrasse Tyson Questions Jack's Survival Instincts
James Cameron's fictionalized interpretation of the sinking of the RMS Titanic was one of the most pivotal moments in cinematic history. Apart from crushing the box-office with $2.18 billion and ransacking the Academy Awards with 11 wins, Cameron set the bar for romanticism in movies with Jack and Rose's relationship. However, the manner in which Cameron chose to let Jack sink to the freezing depths of the Atlantic have always caused fans to debate the plausibility of his fate.
As Neil deGrasse Tyson also happens to be one of those critics, he provided his perspective to HuffPost by focusing on Jack's eagerness to survive his predicament,
"Whether or not he could’ve been successful, I would’ve tried more than once. You try once. ‘Oh, this is not gonna work. I will just freeze to death in the water.’ No, excuse me. No! The survival instinct is way stronger than that in everybody, especially in that character. He’s a survivor, right? He gets through. He gets by."
Although Titanic is Cameron's personal take on the infamous incident, Tyson's argument clearly shows that he should've put some more thought into the realistic aspects of his character's actions. Considering how our survival instinct work, the ending could've benefited with a few extra scenes as Jack tried to stay afloat – or, as shown in Mythbusters, by trying to increase the buoyancy of the broken door.
'Mythbusters' Also Criticized Jack's Fate, And James Cameron Didn't Like It!
Mythbusters is a science entertainment television show that tests the scientific validity of rumors, internet videos and debatable cinematic tropes. So, after finding out the real-life implications of Austin Powers's ejector seat and Dukes of Hazzard's famed car stunt, hosts Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage set their eyes on Titanic's fatal scene. Surprisingly, the results were quite opposite to what happened in the movie.
As pointed out by Cameron himself at the beginning of the video, the main problem for the characters was the door's capability to hold Jack and Rose's weight, which was also proven when Savage failed to climb on the door. However, once Hyneman sacrificed his life-jacket and tied it to the bottom of the door, it was much easier for the both of them.
Given the popularity of this show, and the irrefutable evidence that they provided, it was only a matter of time before Cameron was informed. Unfortunately, he didn't take it well, as Cameron strongly believes that hypothermia would've got the better of Jack.
"So you’re talking about the 'Mythbusters' episode, right? Where they sort of pop the myth? OK, so let’s really play that out: you’re Jack, you’re in water that’s 28 degrees, your brain is starting to get hypothermia. 'Mythbusters' asks you to now go take off your life vest, take hers off, swim underneath this thing, attach it in some way that it won’t just wash out two minutes later—which means you’re underwater tying this thing on in 28-degree water, and that’s going to take you five to ten minutes, so by the time you come back up you’re already dead. So that wouldn’t work ... His best choice was to keep his upper body out of the water and hope to get pulled out by a boat or something before he died. They’re fun guys and I loved doing that show with them, but they’re full of shit."
Of course, it's true that the extreme cold of the Atlantic would've been a deciding factor but, as much as we'd love to agree with Cameron on this one, Neil deGrasse Tyson still thinks he's wrong.
The Mythbusters also had only one life-jacket on them, and tying the straps of the jacket only took a few seconds. In addition to that, Savage and Hyneman managed to do all this despite being older and heavier than Jack and Rose. With this in mind, Cameron's excuse doesn't hold up – especially when faced with Tyson's additional point about Jack's survival instinct.
Funnily enough, Neil deGrasse Tyson's grievances with Cameron's storytelling doesn't end there. Due to Tyson's expansive knowledge in the field of astronomy, it's understandable that he sees the world in a different light than us mortal beings. However, as this scientific perspective extends to Tyson's way of watching movies, the StarTalk host had one more problem with Cameron's Titanic.
HuffPost: "James Cameron is coming to your show, and you actually have a history with him, right? Didn’t you send him an email about a problem with 'Titanic'?"
Neil deGrasse Tyson: "Don’t get me started on that."
HuffPost: "So what happened there?"
Neil deGrasse Tyson: "Yeah, he had the wrong sky over the sinking ship, and we know where it sank and what time. [...] We know there was no moon interfering with he sky. So we knew this. He sinks the ship in the movie and ... the sky wasn’t even just the wrong part of the sky, it was a made-up sky. And worse than that, the left side of the sky was a mirror reflection of the right side of the sky, so there’s just no excuse for that."
Despite being a world-renowned scientist and an expert in astrophysics, Tyson has repeatedly shown interest in pop culture and the science that's related to it. Although this has led him to debunking many cinematic truths, it's enjoyable to see the level of humor and rationality that Tyson brings with his love of movies. The inevitability of Jack's fate, however, will surely continue to be debated for years to come.
Do you think Jack could have saved himself? Let me know in the comments.