By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 1/21/2020
Occurred: 12/27/2006
Topics/Keywords: #Humor #Movies #Cruise Page Views: 3006
Zach is worried that our upcoming family cruise will be spoiled by a rogue wave.

My oldest daughter, Dorothy, has informed us she's going to be married. (She got engaged two or three years ago—I've lost track.) And, she's going to be married on a cruise ship. Since I haven't yet won the lottery, I can't afford to load all her friends and our family on board the cruise ship. Not, that is, as anything but galley slaves. So we're each paying our own way and thanking our preferred deities that she decided to cruise to the Caribbean, and not around the world.

Rogue Wave

Neither Michael nor I have ever been on a cruise. My ex-wife, Mary, went on one when she was a kid, with her parents. And Dorothy has been on several with her fiancÚ's parents, which is where she got the idea. And, of course, my grandson Zachary, who is only seven, has never been on one. And, last night, he confessed that he was reluctant to go on this one. It wasn't easy to get him to tell us why, but after some gentle prodding he confessed that he was worried the ship would be hit by a rogue wave and turned upside-down.

First impulse, which I quickly squashed, was to laugh. Obviously, Zachary had been paying more attention than we thought when we watched Poseidon. But it quickly turned out that he'd been paying more attention to lots of movies than we thought. He'd watched Titanic and The Bountyand Mutiny On The Bounty; and I happen to be reading Baby Islandto him, a 1937 book about two little girls who are shipwrecked on a desert island with the four infants they'd been babysitting on the ship.

Obviously, we'd been feeding the little tyke a lot of anti-cruise-ship propaganda.

I checked NetFlix for "ocean liners" and "cruise". Of course, I had to wade past a bunch of Tom Cruise movies—none of which take place on cruise ships. Speed 2—Cruise Controlcame up but since that involves an ocean liner rigged to crash into a supertanker, it didn't seem as if that would reassure Zachary any.

(Incidentally, Speed 2 takes place on a ship called the Seabourn Legend, which is not only a real cruise ship—its identical sister ship, the Seabourn Spirit, has the distinction of being the only cruise ship in modern times to be attacked by pirates. And, apparently, the Seabourn Legend didn't find the association with Speed 2, which ends with the ship crashing into and destroying a port town, as much a passenger draw as they'd hoped; when the movie was shown on TV, CGI effects were used to change the name to the "S. S. Legend.")

I looked for it but, to my surprise, Love Boat hasn't yet been released on DVD.

Love Affair, the remake of An Affair To Remember, won't help; although the ship doesn't sink, the reason Warren Beatty is on it, is that his plane was forced down; and we'll be flying to Tampa to get on the ship. Besides, Zachary thinks kissing is yucky and when it's Warren Beatty being kissed, so do I.

A possible which I've added to my NetFlix queue is Dennis The Menace—Cruise Control, in which an animated Dennis annoys Mr. Wilson on a cruise. The Mitchells bring Dennis' pals Joey and Margaret with them, which, now that I've priced cruises, seems excessively generous. And I'm hoping Zachary the Menace doesn't get any ideas from it.

I asked movie critic Dave White if there were any movies about cruise ships that aren't capsized, sunk or burnt by mutineers that we could show Zachary so he'd get a positive spin on all this. I haven't heard from Dave yet, but his partner wrote back and suggested Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. I've never seen that film (I know, it's supposed to be part of the Gay Membership Test, but I snuck through) but I quickly put it at the top of our list, as kissing doesn't seem to be the main element of the plot.

The basic problem, of course, is that Zach hasn't yet learned that what he sees on TV is not representative of the real world. Unfortunately, he is not alone in that. Studies have shown that the likelihood people believe they have that they, personally, will be the victims of a violent crime rises with the amount of TV they watch. That is, a person who watches no TV at all (is there really such a person?) actually has a fairly accurate notion of the likelihood he or she will someday be attacked (one person in 50, according to the US Department of Justice). A person who watches a lot of TV becomes convinced that a personal attack is inevitable. (Perhaps that's why they stay home in front of their TVs all day.)

Studies of the human brain show that each distinct thing we see, causes a unique pattern of neurons to fire—and it doesn't matter if the thing is seen in reality or on a TV screen (or, for that matter, in the imagination); the same neurons always fire. So, as far as the brain is concerned, if it sees a ship overturned by a rogue wave, it's a real ship and a real rogue wave. It doesn't matter how unlikely such an experience really is; to the brain, it is now part of your experience.

And it's very difficult to convince someone, especially a seven-year-old, that what feels like a real experience is, in fact, something he almost certainly will never encounter in reality.