Tragedy In The Spotlight: Too Many People Are Giddy About Suffering From Lost Titanic Sub

(Photo by Jason Redmond / AFP) (Photo by JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images)

Gage Klipper Contributor
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The story of the missing Titan submarine vessel gripped the world this week, as search-and-rescue teams raced against time to save those on board.

While it is now being reported that debris has been found and the vessel likely imploded, we still know little about what transpired leading up to the disaster. Throughout the search, the vessel was presumed to be draining the last bit of its 96 hour oxygen reserve. While teams from all over the world worked to locate it, even before the debris was discovered, it was nearly certain that the rescue had failed. (RELATED: Coast Guard Discovers ‘Debris Field’ In Search Area For Missing Titanic Sub)

We have all become desensitized to immediate politicization following any tragedy in this country. We sadly expect a media spectacle.

Yet this is different. Whereas tragedies at home exist in a political context — debates over gun laws, environmental regulations, and so on — this occurred in a vacuum. There is no adversarial element — no authority to blame, no one to score points against, no agenda at stake. This is pure human tragedy at its worst.

That is why it is all the more galling to see one of the top British television networks interrupt its scheduled programming to debut a new documentary titled “Titanic Sub: Lost at Sea.” It is scheduled to air this evening, mere hours after the vessel was set to run out of oxygen. It features a celebrity host and promises to take an “in-depth look at the extraordinary events.”

An “extraordinary event” could describe any number of unlikely events — a Hail Mary touch down, a spectacular circus feat, or a great military victory. Yet it typically implies an event worth marveling at. Now, the sheer unusualness of this story renders it extraordinary in the technical sense, but in this case, our marvel turns to gawking. It is cheap and hollow, and that’s what the network is counting on. (RELATED: Left-Wing Publication Slammed Over Article Criticizing Political Donations Of CEO In Lost Submarine)

According to a network executive, the film will go above and beyond the news coverage, telling a “very human story that has captured the nation which is about five people, all with families, who are trapped at the bottom of the ocean.”

Yet the exceptionally quick turn-around means that producers were likely working on the film since the vessel went missing on Sunday. As it was being made, it was presumed that the vessel was stranded on the ocean floor, those on board slowly suffocating to death. Producers likely had to hedge on the outcome — the question over the likelihood of survival becoming an on-the-fly editorial decision. While it is possible that the documentary will wind up handling the topic sensitively, it nevertheless reflects the values of a company that jumped at the chance to commodify tragedy.

The film could be justified as a matter of, “If we don’t do it, someone else will.” That is likely true. However, that shows the problem is far deeper than just a handful of greedy corporations. Throughout society, we can no longer tell the difference between spectacle and calamity. Perhaps we no longer even want to.

Take for example, the “grassroots” reaction to the story. With very wealthy men on board, some online reveled at their chance to “eat the rich.”

On the one hand, it’s possible to say that these people are blinded by the ideologies America has embraced in recent decades. They can no longer see any humanity in the people they are told are responsible for all the injustices in this world. They resent those who have more, and who are the reason they believe they have less. (RELATED: CEO Of Company Operating Missing Titanic Submarine Said He Didn’t Want To Hire ’50 Year Old White Guys’)

There is a more generous explanation however — one wholly apolitical that feels more fitting.

In our hyper-speed society, we satisfy every need virtually on-demand and cannot help but be captivated by what’s new and novel in front of us. We’re over-saturated and over-stimulated — whether it’s politics, porn, or tragedy, our society always needs something more, something “extraordinary” to satisfy the same fix. When we find it, we become entranced until the high wears off and we search for something new. This happens on the societal level.

Yet on the individual level, once we’re captured by a story like this we twist it to fit our priors and process it in the only way we know how. The network executives turn it into a show, the Marxists make it a cause for revolution, and the average observer just soaks it all in.

This story offers the rare modern instance of all of human ingenuity united, but failing, to overcome a natural obstacle. All of our resources and technology, and we still could not conquer the depths of the ocean.

This sense of exploration used to unite us — we felt pride in the moon landing and grieved during the Challenger disaster. It was personal, and, as a country, we felt these adventures were in pursuit of something worthwhile. It is hard to imagine the reaction today among generations past. Now, exploration, like everything else is a commodity to be molded and consumed.

Let us take a moment to pause and reflect that some things in our modern world still deserve a genuine sense of awe. It is the least these five explorers deserved.