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Why Every Tween Girl Swoons for Jack Dawson

About 10 years ago, just after my tenth birthday, my mom and I decided to watch James Cameron’s “Titanic” for the first time. If I’m being honest, I hadn’t the slightest idea what the film was about, nor had I even heard of the infamous Titanic disaster. It was our monthly mother-daughter night, and my mom finally caved to my incessant pleads to watch this Oscar-nominated film, which I’d been dying to see for years. I mean, with a dreamy ‘90s Leo plastered over the “T” section at every Blockbuster, could you really blame me?

Aside from his good looks and a lucky hand at poker, Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) really doesn’t have a lot going for him, and that’s made clear early on in the film. His lower social class is apparent, as he didn’t have any belongings to bring aboard the Titanic, he doesn’t have the means to travel and he must reside in the barracks, which are infested with rodents and house up to four people at a time. Even so, Jack isn’t bothered by class values, which makes his character more appealing, as he has an unwavering positive attitude and appetite for life. In fact, he says the following line after his lower class lifestyle is criticized by the wealthy people on board: “I figure life’s a gift, and I don’t intend on wasting it. You don’t know what hand you’re gonna get dealt next. You learn to take life as it comes at you… To make each day count.” This same attitude comes to affect Rose (Kate Winslet), the upper-class girl whom he falls in love with… 10-year-old me was twitching with envy.

Regardless of the class difference between them, Jack pursues Rose  ceaselessly, and she must choose between her wealthy fiance, Cal (Billy Zane) – including the luxurious life he can provide for her – and the man whom she truly loves (Jack). Nonetheless, the upper class lifestyle simply doesn’t appeal to Rose, as she finds that everything is planned out for her, and she has little freedom. When she meets Jack, however, her entire outlook on life changes – she sees an escape route in him, and admires his spontaneity. In fact, toward the end of the film, Rose says she wants to leave with him when the ship docks – he responds with “This is crazy,” to which she answers “I know. It doesn’t make any sense. That’s why I trust it.” Again, it’s this spur-of-the-moment, carefree attitude that strengthens his character appeal.

Jack’s most admirable characteristic is his authenticity, as he’s completely truthful about his upbringing, financial state and lifestyle. Even when conversing with Rose, he refers to himself as a “poor guy,” and encourages her to acknowledge his social status. However, regardless of the societal barriers between them, Jack continues to go after Rose, as he has genuine feelings for her, and “wants to know she’ll be alright.” Upon their first meeting, when she nearly commits suicide by hurling herself into the Atlantic (ironic, isn’t it?), Jack recognizes her struggle/inability to conform to a sheltered, upper-class lifestyle, and strives to save her. His determination to free Rose from her seemingly inescapable future makes Jack nearly impossible to dislike, and has every 10-year-old girl plastering young Leo posters over their bedroom walls. Trust me, I speak from experience.

JCU Campus Correspondent
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