It amuses to me how many people confuse safety with convenience and say, “Hang the accuracy; I want to be convenient!” They glorify the use of modern spectacles and eyewear (“I just can’t see otherwise, and I can’t wear contacts!”) , alibi the use of sneakers and Harley boots (“I’m not able to stand or walk around otherwise, and besides nobody does accurate footwear!”), scoff at required research (“That’s just not fun; don’t be so anal!”) and obliviously and openly use modern electronics and talk about that episode of “American Idol” they Tivo’d instead of anything remotely period during public hours (or do not have public hours and instead want a big fancy-dress LARP). Then, as if to further justify their approach, they defend their actions and choices with the ferocity of a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar: “That takes away from any fun I’d have and is just not convenient!”
Well guess what. Having un-sharp weapons on the field is safety; using modern wheelchairs or crutches to get onto site is safety; not using poisonous cosmetics is safety. Using something that makes you feel more comfortable with no provenance, no likelihood of existing in period is not a safety; that is the supreme god of people who feel no compunction about doing frivolous living history. A matter of convenience! They even avoid things that were essential to the era—and even more essential to understanding it–as being not merely inconvenient but disruptive. Myself, I find having an Authenticity Officer is safe and reassuring; a lot of people find—or would find if the concept even occurred to them—it is inconvenient. It’s a threat to the laissez-faire sense of Fun that they want to engender and to enjoy.
Are their ultimate goals to attract as many members as possible and rake in more and more money? At an early meeting, we decided on “quality, not quantity.” They may have five hundred people out there in bluejeans, Air Jordans and hurriedly stitched T-tunic made out of polyester; we may have five who look not merely Good but Superlative. That is where I’m coming from, and that is what is important to me. It would be nice to have hundreds of well-dressed participants in a period-looking environment, but those numbers are nothing to me compared to the time that a spectator who says, “Wow, even your shoes look accurate!” (yes, they do so notice!) Nothing is more fun that doing the research required to make something that is accurate and not just fabricate something that will look similar to something seen in a fantasy film.
What is my point? I guess it’s that good, serious living history is fun. The research is fun. The presentation is fun. And the practice is fun. It will probably never ever be convenient!
Good thoughts. There are groups like the SCA (which I am happily a part of) that let people be anchronistic if they want. Rather than gripe and try to relax the standards of living history groups, just go join a group that will let you mix convenience gear with period gear.
June 20, 2011 at 22:13
And if groups like that call themselves what they are, I’d have no problems with it. I’ve been saying this for 25 years!
June 20, 2011 at 22:26
Excellent blog entry, my thoughts exactly. I do 18th century with a small group of like minded individuals, check out our blog http://lambtons.wordpress.com/.
July 22, 2011 at 06:57
Thanks for the comments. I will certainly be looking at your blogwhen I have the time!
July 22, 2011 at 11:23
Well said! Even though it’s advertised as “Creative Anachronism” …. It was always too annoying for me to become involved in it. The authentic recreation is the fun for me. Research and intelligent discussion is what I crave. Don’t know of many groups here in SoCal that fit the bill for me.
October 14, 2014 at 20:48
There is a Vikings group and a smaller, incipient Regia group that I know of. The Vike group has a web page: http://www.vikingsofbjornstad.com/ I’m tracking down who to contact for the Regia group.
October 14, 2014 at 21:01