I found recently this article from the Wall Street Journal, about how pirate re-enactors might feel daunted pursuing their interests with Somali buccaneers currently practicing their trade.
The article goes on to discuss how the real pirates make the players uncomfortable, though the feared backlash against the frock coat-wearing pirates hasn’t materialized yet. Not that these folks aren’t worried; quoted in the piece is Rob Ossian, who states:
“People think of pirates the way they think of vampires… If there really were vampires around, I don’t think people would be lining up to buy Twilight. ”
You know, in many ways that sums up the main issue here: reality vs. fiction. Sadly, the pirates in our history that sailed the Carib 300 years ago are just as cruel and bloodthirsty as the real pirates over in the Indian Ocean today. And both of them are doing it for the same reasons, essentially: seeking money, quickly and easily.
The big difference between them is the wall of fiction that keeps one group shackled safely so that we can play with them without fear that our interests could turn on us and bite. Much like the difference between playing SAINT’S ROW on the Xbox 360 and joining the Crips in Los Angeles, you can draw parallels between the two and find many different points of convergence, but never reconcile the fact that one of them you can walk away from to go home at night and sleep it off.
I had seriously considered an April Fool’s chapter, one where Hope briefly finds herself with a different crew. Instead of playing the citern as the four pounders are rolled forward, she’d be cranking the speakers while a crewman on the bow of the speedboat used his RPG to slow the tanker down. All I can say is, after the Maersk Alabama was taken, I counted my blessings that I hadn’t posted that; at best it would have been crass, if not downright gauche. And with the MSC Melody having just fended off an attack, that would have made things even dicier to write about.
Mind you, there’s always a chance in the future, once the heat dies down and the moment’s right…
But this goes back to the unfortunate problem of how we get drawn sometimes to those whose track we want to follow, but not so close to allow us to touch. As much as we have an admiration for pirates (and indeed have a lot to admire them for), they were still criminals who in real life would have behaved badly towards us had we meant them. That’s a fact that should never be lost or ignored, and can be held in mind as you pursue more social pirate hijinks in costume. Whether you don for fun the armor of vikings or the orcs modeled after them, dress like Roaring Twenties gangsters and flappers, or go all out for Klingon battle regalia; whatever your interests, you should never forget the dangerous aspects of the characters you remember. Their reputation is built on messy and inconvenient facts, and while you may never do any of that ever it can’t be ignored.
I know full well were I to meet Abigail Sanders in real life, I’d probably end up like the Dutch captian in Part the Fifteenth, lost at sea and never to see home again. The only thing going for me would be, I’d be a lot less disappointed than all those teenage girls reading Twilight who found themselves a real vampire…