Being "Too PC" ?

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Re: Being "Too PC" ?

Postby euryalus on Tue Sep 23, 2008 3:24 pm

I think it is stating the obvious to say that, the further back in history one goes, the easier it is to portray the period without giving offence. For example, Boudicca's rebellion resulted in the deaths of about 70,000 Romans and British collaborators, in some instances by burning or crucifixtion. In return, the Romans made a sustained effort to exterminate Celtic culture in the part of Britain that they had occupied - a further 80,000 being killed in what can only be called a campaign of "ethnic cleansing". However, this all happened so long ago that nobody is going to object to portrayals of the Boudiccan Revolt.

In the early modern period, the civil wars of the 17th century are much more likely to arose controversy because the issues that were fought over are still, to some extent, valid; Oliver Cromwell is a hero to some and the incarnation of evil to others. In modern times. the Nazis and the Holocaust are still something that happened in living memory, and many people object to the portrayal of Nazis in any form.

I remember a re-enactment weekend at Pendennis Castle in Cornwall, when the Head Custodian (a former member of the Durham Light Infantry) objected to a Nazi flag flying over the keep, while some of the “Germans” themselves told me that their job was to lose the battle; they said that, on one occasion, it was agreed that the “Germans” would win, but as this almost caused a riot, the experiment was never repeated.

In another instance, it was agreed that a preserved railway in England would be taken over by the Germans, but there was a predictable outcry from the PC Brigade because they equated railways and Nazis with transportation and mass extermination. I think that, under these circumstances, we should be grateful for the German Army re-enactors who, in effect, volunteer to be the Bad Guys. Without them, there could clearly be no World War II events!
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Re: Being "Too PC" ?

Postby Tychsen on Tue Sep 23, 2008 5:32 pm

Euryalus I think in a nutshell you tell it as it is - distant events tend to be problem free those which are engraved in a national conciousness or are still within living memory tend to require a degree of tact and consideration.
I have seen the flag being flown before and to me it causes me no pain , on the other hand I have had several flags with me at events and have not shown them simply because I don't know how it would go down and was not prepared to place the organisers in a difficult position.
( Having said this I would discriminate in favour of the Reichskrieg ( in the right context) and against the party flag , the only exception I might make ( speaking for myself) is an ID flag or one being used for this express purpose - again context is the issue as far as I am concerned.
Yes the poor old Jerries always have to lose or are expected to lose which again is a little too PC for me - depends on what is being done.
Having the Germans "shoot priosners" as part of the "plot" I think is simply wrong and I can't see the need for it.
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Re: Being "Too PC" ?

Postby knightofredemption on Tue Sep 23, 2008 5:51 pm

That idea of distance is also informed by geographical location the crusades are still contentious in the middle east for example, and some Scots and Irish have a deep hatred of the Saxons, I'm sure there must be other examples of long historical hatreds.
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Re: Being "Too PC" ?

Postby RecycledViking on Tue Sep 23, 2008 10:16 pm

the crusades are still contentious in the middle east for example, and some Scots and Irish have a deep hatred of the Saxons, I'm sure there must be other examples of long historical hatreds.
I can't explain why the Vikings are accepted wholeheartedly nowadays. Do average people see past the 'Clontarf was Christian Irish v. Pagan Vikings' national myth? Is it something to do with Hagar the Horrible?
The 'sassenach' are ostracised still while the 'Ostmen' are remembered with relative fondness.
Try calling Ireland 'one of the British Isles' and see the sparks fly. Yet Ireland is part of the EU Nordic Battlegroup. As mentioned in the 'Names...' message board, 'Ireland' and the -ster's come from Norse, yet no one says Ériu or Mumhain unless they're speaking Irish.
I can't seem to make sense of it, or maybe I missed a more subtle prejudice in Ireland?
'I think Yank, but maybe Æsir'
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Re: Being "Too PC" ?

Postby soutreb on Wed Sep 24, 2008 8:00 pm

Well done on instigating this thread. I initially joined this forumto read up and make contact with other like minded Living Historians/Re-enactors-not to bad mouth anyone or group, I'd like to think that I left that behaviour behind me in the early stages of national school over thirty odd years ago!

You say that you're fairly new to LH/ re-enacting, and to my mind you seem to be going about it in the right way-by forming your opinions from reading BOTH SIDES, we're all amateur historians and we all know that every side has two side and that both should be reflected in our portrayals. I do ACW-C.S. and I find that I read roughly equal amounts of each sides stories and history. Of course the question of slavery always arises, and I simply answer:"YES, it did exist in the USA, just like it existed in ancient Greece, Rome, Sparta, Egypt and still exists today in some countries on the African continent(UN reports it so.) " On explaining why Irishmen took up arms against Lincoln's government, many are surprised and find it hard to believe that there were other reasons besides slavery involved. I try to stay away from giving my own opinions as I have prejudices-I am human after all, but I usually say that as a group we are "A Political" and only want to tell the story of the Irishmen and women that fought between 1861-1865.
I generally tend to enjoy LH more than the re-enacting, don't get me wrong I love to "burn powder" but LH gives me the opportunity to interact better with the public and speak to them and try to answer any queries they may have.If, for some reason, I can't answer a query I usually get their details and contact them within a few days.(I have over 350 books and access, via CD-ROM, to the "Official Records"-so I can track down the answer) If I can impart some little knowledge and help someone to learn something new, then I consider that a "Good Event". I'd never talk down to someone as I find that people have a good grasp of history and a have a few "skeletal bones" and they may come to us to seek out putting a little flesh on those bones. If a person is good enough to approach you then, I think they deserve the courtesy of a little of our time and if one doesn't know the answer-then say so, honesty is best.
Forgive me if this seems like rambling, but I think that James has put out a good question and certainly made me stop and think.
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Re: Being "Too PC" ?

Postby Tychsen on Wed Sep 24, 2008 10:05 pm

Southreb , you make an interesting differential which is probably not obvious to the general public that of reenactment and that of living history.
I do prefer that which allows for contact with the public , it provides the opportunity to meet someinteresting folks , many of whom are quite knowledgable - its a poor day when you don't learn something or are given the opportunity to do so.
( If we fail to be grateful for or to take advantage of such opportunities we don't really deserve them in the first instance !
EG The gentleman who appeared to us at Portstewart - one of the first US troops in Dachau, to his credit "M" looked after him very well. )

I would have to fully agree with you on the respect and courtesy which the public deserve and like yourself I have on occasions exchanged contact details and have been quite surprised with the results.
None of like to be "talked down to" a little respect costs nothing and manners are easily carried and are appreciated by all.
My own view is that whilst we might all have some degree of knowledge we never really stop learning ourselves and if we assume we are all knowing experts we fool ourselves and sooner or later will eat humble pie.
Some youngsters can tell you a great deal !!

Quite recently I was contacted by a gent who sought out my name and tel. number from a shows organisers - turned out he lived only a short diatance from me - as a result I was able to give him some advice and background information on a binocular he had as well as providing him with a tripod for it.

As a relative newcomer I would welcome any " seasoned campaigners views on renacting and living history - what they mean to you and any insights into how to do them well and what pit falls to avoid.
I for one am here to learn and not to dictate or show boat .
thanks to those who have chosen to contribute to this thread - I have enjoyed reading everyones views ( without exception) - goes to show that commoncore issues translate throughout this hobby and can be applied in our own partuicular areas of interest. :)
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Re: Being "Too PC" ?

Postby knightofredemption on Thu Sep 25, 2008 10:42 am

I guess for me re-enacting is an extension of my love of WMA (western martial arts) and being part of a team that try to recreate what a sword fight between two skilled fighters might have looked like. We decided from the off, that one of the most important aspects of what we do is entertainment, so we do not hide that we are modern people acting a role and use jokes that play on that during the show. The violence in the display is is softened by a Tom and Jerry type of presentation as often a large proportion of the audience are children. (they adore it when the combatants receive a kick to the dangly bits :D ) We do not base our characters on real people of the time we just have a Good Knight, and a Bad Knight. (of course for the kids the Bad Knight is the star). So what we do is not living history as I understand that phrase to be used. Nor are we re-enacting an actual event from the past, we base the idea on the fact the the Joust toured Europe as grand entertainment and if that was the Grand Prix of the time, we are the banger racing equivalent :D. The history is just a vehicle to present western martial arts in an entertaining way. Now around the combat team are other folk for whom the history is the thing, and this gives our group a broad appeal for the punters, I will happily talk about swords and weapons and how we think they were made and used, but ask me about actual events or historical dates and characters, and if unsure, I will immediately point you to one of the other members of the team. Are we living history? are we re-enactors? I would say neither, I would suggest a third category of historical theatre.
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Re: Being "Too PC" ?

Postby Tychsen on Thu Sep 25, 2008 11:54 am

Something which I had not considered within that context but entertaining the public is part of the "job" , and for chioldren it can't be too heavy they have to be able to relate to it if they are to be interested - learning comes from being turned on to something.

I have never done the "battle thing" , I am not sure if it my cup of tea - the dropping down dead bit would not come easy to me so I will for the time beaing be more than happy that others "go for that".
Sword play must be extremely interactive and as "play" / "joke" element does allow the public to be more than on lookers , it builds a bridge and extends an invitation for discussion / asking questions.
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Re: Being "Too PC" ?

Postby knightofredemption on Thu Sep 25, 2008 12:20 pm

This was my motivation, we are there to entertain the public lets never forget that. Event organisers want bodies through the gate. Those bodies are families with children and they want to be involved, stimulated and entertained. Its our job to do just that and at the same time try and make sure they go away knowing more than when they came in.
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Re: Being "Too PC" ?

Postby Na Fianna Éireann on Thu Sep 25, 2008 12:36 pm

Tychsen wrote:Something which I had not considered within that context but entertaining the public is part of the "job" , and for chioldren it can't be too heavy they have to be able to relate to it if they are to be interested - learning comes from being turned on to something.

I have never done the "battle thing" , I am not sure if it my cup of tea - the dropping down dead bit would not come easy to me so I will for the time beaing be more than happy that others "go for that".
Sword play must be extremely interactive and as "play" / "joke" element does allow the public to be more than on lookers , it builds a bridge and extends an invitation for discussion / asking questions.


Funny you should refer to this James , but that had crossed my mind , I for one much prefer the living history ,the interaction with the public , learning from them , listening to their views and also imparting information as you tend to meet such a wide spectrum of individuals coming up to you and socializing with you at an event.
Many of whom I may add I have kept in contact with these past few years and some have now become firm friends as well , the idea that the battle scene is the be all and end all is a farce as at the end of the day it isplay acting to a crowd , the real heavy work within re-enacting is not the flash, boom and bang of weapons and falling about like actors playing to a crowd ,but the essence of the hard work is the transfer of historical information in a format and manner that leaves the members of the public who attend events satisfied and happy about what they have seen , learnt and heard from the various groups that populate an event .
Yes the public always likes a show with the clashes of swords or flashes from guns but this is forgotten quickly since it is normally a feature of television programmes throughout the differing channels we subscribe to . In actual fact the public desire knowledge on how we lived in times gone past ,the clothes we wore ,the food we ate, the interpersonal relationships of the differing personalities and stories emancipating from these times gone past . They desire us to recreate , to stirr , to evoke somthing meaningful deep within them stimulating their imaginations and to leave them with memories that will last for years to come . Also just seeing the children smile and saunter off happy and content with visions of their latest venture to be playacted out on an imaginary battlefield near their homes is gratifying and their parents nod of approval in itself is reward enough .
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