I was 23 when Titanic was released. I loved it. I loved all 194 minutes of it. To this day, I still love it.
This is not something I discuss often. Titanic is a very easy movie to make fun of and -- in my demographic -- I'm in the minority about this opinion. Sometimes I make fun of it, too, in an effort to fool people. The amount of public scorn that I give Titanic is usually correlated to how cool the person is that I happen to be talking with.
I am done living a lie, even in front of cool people.
I first saw Titanic on Dec. 19, 1997. My friend Chris and I had gone to the theater, in a suburb outside of Kansas City, Mo. with hopes of seeing the new James Bond movie that also opened on that day. (For the life of me, I can't remember which one because those Pierce Brosnan Bond films all feel like the same movie, but a Google search tells me that it was Tomorrow Never Dies.)
Bond, sadly, was sold out. Chris and I perused through the other five (!) films that this theater was showing, looked at the word "Titanic," shrugged, and purchased our tickets.
A couple of points here: (A) I had zero knowledge that Titanic was a romantic, date-type, film and (B) this is the second time that I had attended this type of movie with just Chris as my companion. (Four years earlier, at the same theater, we had both done that same shrug as I confidently stated, "Why not? Tom Hanks is always funny." That movie was Sleepless in Seattle.)
I cried during Titanic. I mean, waterworks. Though, it wasn't the point in the film that most people seem to cry. I was fine with the sinking and I was mostly dry-eyed as Jack Dawson's corpse sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic. The part that got me was when Rose dies and her spirit is reunited with Jack in some sort of version of heaven. (In retrospect, a passenger liner in which Rose spent, what I have to assume, the most horrific moments of her life, is a very twisted version of heaven.) The problem is, during subsequent viewings of Titanic I kept crying.
I saw Titanic five times, over a three-week span, during its initial theatrical run. Each time, I cried during that exact same scene. The second time I saw Titanic, I was too embarrassed to tell my then-girlfriend that I was crying during a scene that I had already seen knew was coming. I lied. I pretended that this had been the first time I had seen Titanic. On my three subsequent viewings after that, I did the exact same thing and, each time, used my new, "Wow, I sure didn't see such an emotional scene coming," excuse.
I'll take it a step further: I think Titanic is one of the greatest love stories ever put to film. Let me explain. Last year, without quite admitting my love for the film, I wrote this following paragraph in the September issue of ELLE-UK:
"I'm convinced that Titanic is the most realistic love story that has ever been filmed. OK, sure, the relationship depicted between Leonardo DiCaprio's Jack and Kate Winslet's Rose ended quite awfully with Jack dying in the freezing waters of the Atlantic Ocean -- but during the course of the film, they were so... alive. They were attending fancy diners, drinking pints of beer while dancing to Irish jigs, having sex in the backseat of a car, laughing while running away from the guy who played Sark in Tron -- all of the things that movies taught me that young couples are supposed to do. In other words: none of the things that I was currently doing in my, at the time, two-year-old relationship! I may be the only person alive who, after watching Titanic for the first time, thought why can't my love life be more like that? See, this is why, all of its faults aside (and it has a lot), Titanic is the perfect love story. Rose loved Jack for the rest of her life because, frankly, he wasn't around to bitch about how he doesn't like her poached eggs. Titanic taught me that the key to a successful relationship is an early and unexpected death."
Titanic gets a bad rap, and I think the reason why is because people haven't seen Titanic in quite some time. Put it this way: It's hard to sit down and casually watch a movie that's over three hours long. Because of that, the dissenting opinions become the opinions, and there's no alternative evidence provided to counter them. There's a lot of corny dialogue to mock in the original Star Wars, too, but you've seen Star Wars enough to realize it doesn't matter.
So, yeah, I love Titanic. I love every "and spi-iet like a man" kind-of-terrible type line of dialogue. This weekend, I'll most likely find myself at the theater, again, watching Titanic in 3D, producing what will now be three-dimensional tears. And, this time, I don't care who knows it (depending on how cool you are).
Mike Ryan is senior entertainment writer for The Huffington Post. He has written for Wired Magazine, VanityFair.com and GQ.com. He likes Star Wars a lot. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter