Saturday, September 19, 2015

Creeping Up On Halloween With Pirates

It's Talk Like A Pirate Day...Speaking of Halloween, PIRATES!

Pirate Day is that time of the year where we all break into a West Country accent, and most people only 40 are baffled. But we do it! Why? PIRATES!

Really, the accent we gave the pirate meme derives from the 1950's Treasure Island movie. In it Robert Newton (the man with a lovely West Country voice) gave a popular rendition of the character Long John Silver. (Not pictured here.) His accent and characterization outlived the movie. And now he's The Pirate.

Of course this is still funny to Brits. It's like having a Midwestern American accent be the voice of California surfing dudes.

Unfortunately this mental image helps cement the idea of Pirates = British. Of course, for Americans, super villains, vampires, spies, pirates, snobbery, and wizardry are all British. We have issues here. We seldom consider the French, Scottish, American, Spanish, Ottoman, Chinese, Dutch, Norwegian, Greek, German, Albanian, Dutch, Turkish, African (former slaves and non affiliated), etc.

We end up with an image of a famous pirate, like Hayreddin Barbarossa, more like this.

And we don't think of him as an Ottoman, operating in the Mediterranean. A brilliant naval strategist that helped expand and maintain the Ottoman Empires reach in his day. He's no ones comic foe/

Granted, if people had more knowledge about the historic pirates, we'd have black face Barbarossa's at Halloween. At the same time our "fun pirates" are figures we've omitted much of the dark and troubling aspects of...if you want to really overthink these things.

But, hey, that is supposed to be part of Halloween. Take the images of the past, take the things that scare us, take the dark and have a laugh. (But, no. Putting on black face and going as a Somali pirate is not cool.)

And what's scarier than singing and dancing Christopher Walken? And what'll get you laughing sooner?

He was silly in that performance.

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