All of my negative biases against pirate reenacting were confirmed yet again this weekend at the Beaufort Pyrate Invasion. I saw more ridiculous crap this weekend than I see at any other type of event. Pirate events just seem to bring out the weirdos and the crazies in all shapes, forms, and fashions, and for some reason people just eat this shit up. But in the long run its more like a Star Trek convention than a real historical event. My personal opinion (and the folks in Beaufort will want to crucify me for this) is that this was just an opportunity for business owners and event organizers to rake in a little money. As a tourism strategy it sure as hell seemed to work. Otherwise, it just seemed like Halloween come two months early for one town in coastal North Carolina.
Now, as a supposedly "historical" event this is where I have real issues. I listened to the narration of the "battle." Fast and loose with the facts would be an understatement. It seemed the narrator was making up whatever he thought sounded good and the crowd was accepting all of this as truth. Furthermore, while some of the reenactors are concerned with authenticity in their costuming and presentation (the Devil Men of the Cape Fear are a good example, but unfortunately they don't have a website) most of the reenactors don't seem to give a damn about being historically accurate. Take for instance the Shadow Players. We talked to their leader at great length. He was a great guy, very personable and easy to talk to. But he admitted very readily that as a stage combat theater group they are not terribly concerned with complete historical authenticity. A look at their website will confirm this.
I could go on about this for a long time, but it would only get my blood pressure up. I wouldn't have a problem with pirate events if they at least tried to be authentic and accurate, and dropped the theatrics and sideshows. I have a hard time taking any "pirate" seriously when he's carrying a caplock pistol or Hawken rifle. As with any other form of living history, if you're going to do it you ought to at least try to do it correctly. But, as long as pirate events bring in the number of tourists they do and make the kind of money they do, organizers will continue putting on these circuses.
On a more positive note, I think my friends from Pennsylvania had a great time, they really enjoyed doing the pirate thing, and I'm glad for that. Greg also had a wonderful time shooting the cannon with us at Fort Macon on Saturday morning, which was a much more authentic experience. I should have photos of that soon.