Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Historically Accurate?

It is an historic battle. The epic fight over historical accuracy among modern day “pirate” crews.

The battle rages on several pirate interest groups on Facebook, where one member will call out another pirate for not having an historically accurate costume.

Oops! Sorry. You’re not supposed to call it a “costume”.

“Costume” suggest we’re just play-acting, when in reality…

We’re just play-acting!

Of course, in admitting such, the Captain is setting himself up for much grief from among the brethren.

Liken it to when Jerry “The King” Lawler publicly admitted that TV wrestling is fake…

Not long ago an “authentic” Facebook pirate captain challenged other self-proclaimed pirate captains to prove they are the real deal – like he claims to be. By his criteria, first you have to have a boat.

I suppose pillaging and plundering and wenching and general mayhem don’t count for anything unless one has a boat!


Anyway, the arguments usually go like this:

“Those boots are not historically accurate.”



“That pistol is not true 18th century weaponry.”

“Is too.”

“Is not.”

“Pirates never wore earrings and eye patches.”

“Yes, they did.”

“No, they didn’t.”

Mates, lean in for a moment. If even one 18th century pirate got his eye poked out (which the Captain suspects could have happened) and he put a patch over it, then yes, an eye patch is authentic.Now shut the F*** up!

SO into this fray wades an “authority” – credentials unknown, but “time-traveling pirate" is probably not one of them – who stirs it all up again with a rather lengthy “editorial” about how the Captain’s favorite television show, “Black Sails”, is not historically accurate.

Did I mention it is a television show?

For those who haven’t seen it, “Black Sails” is in its third season on STARZ network. It is a pirate drama set on Nassau in the early 18th century – the Golden Age of Piracy – and features a combination of historical pirates and fictional pirates. It has been likened to a prequel of Robert Lewis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island”.

So this critic points out that a particular pistol used in the first episode did not exist until the early 1800s. While he expressed gratitude for the lack of tricorns and bandanas in the show, he criticized the color and texture of the fabrics the actors wore. The pirates don’t have enough scars, they are way too clean, and the prostitutes are WAAAY too healthy… and too fashion-model skinny for the 18th century.

Oh, and the main characters still have perfect rows of white, shiny teeth!

Historically inaccurate!

Captain's Note: The Captain did have a problem seeing Jack Rackham wearing sunglasses in a couple episodes, but the Chinese had a version of sunglasses as early as the 12th century, and the precursor to modern sunglasses was developed around 1750. So it's not too much of a stretch for Calico Jack to have a pair before he died in 1720.

Did I mention this is a television show?

Here’s the thing. It’s not being broadcast on the History Channel! It is fiction. But whether historically accurate or not, the show is engaging and entertaining. Adult in nature, it doesn’t back down from language, violence, or nudity, which adds an air of authenticity to it.

Who cares if the real Captain Flint would not be wearing a leather jacket on a sailing ship in 1715? It looks good on Toby Stephens!

Frankly, the Captain doubts anyone would watch if the characters looked like real 18th century pirates and prostitutes.  

But if you want real pirates today, here’s what they look like:

Historically accurate!

Personally, the Captain has spent a good deal of money on what would undoubtedly be considered an historically inaccurate pirate kit gear ensemble get-up

Oh hell! What am I supposed to call it?

I don’t care for the “polyester pirates” who buy the $24.99 pirate costume at Halloween Express, and I’m getting real tired of all the “Jack Sparrow” wannabes. 

But who am I to judge?

Most of the time I look close enough to what people think an 18th century pirate looked like.

Of course, sometimes scallywags will ask if I’m dressed as Paul Revere.

Roughly the same period in history, just the wrong team.

But again, it’s all play-acting. Stop taking yourself so seriously. Why can’t you just let us make-believe pirates have our fun?

For that matter, we should extend that same courtesy to everyone else as well.