' ' Cinema Romantico: Is Brad Pitt a Titanic Truther?

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Is Brad Pitt a Titanic Truther?

The Golden Globes, a cocktail party hosted by fawning junketeers, are an iffy barometer of their more formal non-counterparts, the Academy Awards, and so I hesitate to draw too much from a result of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association naming Brad Pitt Best Supporting Actor for “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood.” But still. If this next month is just a predictable, inexorable march to Pitt’s first Oscar (not to mention Laura Dern’s, who earned the Globe for Best Supporting Actress), I’m here for it. I did not do a Favorite Performances of 2019 list this year but Pitt would have been near the top, maybe at the top, giving a supremely, innately physical performance as Cliff Booth, befitting the character’s stunt man nature, evincing this almost preternatural ease in his body, going from cool swagger to sixty in the blink of an eye. Pitt’s past due for his Academy Award and I think it’s a fine time for it to finally be his Time.

But wait! What was that Mr. Pitt said in his Globes acceptance speech? Let’s check the tape. “I also have to thank my partner in crime, LDC.” (We’re calling Leo ‘LDC’ now?) “He’s an all-star. He’s a gent and I wouldn’t be here without you, man. I thank you. Still, I would have shared the raft.” This, as astute Internet users quickly pointed out, was a reference to the former Box Office Champion of the World, “Titanic” (1997), where Leo – er, LDC’s – character perishes in the icy North Atlantic when he deduces, his mind perhaps clouded by said icy water, that there was not enough room on the door-as-makeshift-raft for both he and Kate Winslet’s Rose.

This, of course, is the Internet’s foremost cinematic conspiracy theory. It is a conspiracy theory  prominently flouted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist who spends significant time in his areas of expertise combating so many tinfoil hat wearers, the kind of people who prefer elevating conspiracy theories simply because it makes them feel smarter than so many would-be sheeple. And that’s precisely why deGrasse Tyson peddling “Titanic” Truther flimflam has always perturbed me so much. Like, say, an astrologist telling an astrophysicist he just doesn’t get it, we cinephiles are forced to endure deGrasse Tyson ignoring aesthetics in the name of artistic truth to cherry pick scientific inaccuracies to ensure we all know he’s smarter than us. Bo-ring. And so I wondered, does this mean Brad Pitt is a “Titanic” Truther too? Will I have to root for Joe Pesci?

I don’t think so. Pitt’s line and Leo’s giggly reaction suggested something less than smirking superciliousness and more like a simple inside joke between co-stars. And besides, if Pitt’s Cliff Booth and Leo’s Rick Dalton had, for some far-fetched reason, wound up stranded in the icy North Atlantic I have no doubt they would have staked out that makeshift raft for themselves, while taking swigs from the margarita pitcher they had managed to pack while abandoning ship, and sunk straight to the bottom, whining about steerage scum the whole way down, just going to show once and for all that the scientific principle of buoyancy is no match for overbearing male wiseasses.

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