Friday, July 26, 2013

Pirates, ye be warned!!


Well I got out of bed this morning and my first thought went something like "Pirates, I want to write something about Pirates", and Pirates being the amazing things that they are I proceeded to get up an write about them.

To start with, let me state the somewhat obvious,  Pirates, just like Ninjas, Dragons, Elves, Knights, Dinosaurs and Robots... are just one of those things that are simply inherently interesting to popular culture at large. When you hear someone say the word 'pirate' your ears perk up in delight. Well at least mine do. Perhaps my attachment to nerddom is evident.

Now writing about Pirates it's often hard to tell what's realistic and what's not. Our culture has a lot of romantic notions about Pirates, but it's not exactly easy to tell where the line where Realism begins and where Romanticism begins. Because the fact is, the Pirates actually tended to be every bit as fantastical in their own right as their fictional counterparts. This is something that's rather exceptional. Normally fictional accounts are dramatized, sensationalized versions of the real thing. But when writing about Pirates we as writers have the advantage of having their history be every bit as amazing as their drama.

Let's think for a moment on the various archetypes of Pirates. One would be the terrifying, heartless sea tyrant who would betray his own crew in the blink of an eye. The  other (much popularized by Pirates of the Carribean) is the freedom-loving, nautical version of Robin Hood. Stealing from the rich and giving the poor. Or at least stealing from the rich. I guess one has to start somewhere. Both of these stereotypes can be found in actual Pirate History. Here's a few examples.

When it comes to sea tyrants it's hard to imagine a worse one then Francios l'Olonnais. The man left no survivors and had a penchant for eating the dead flesh of his enemies. He once sliced open a Spanish sailors's chest and pulled out his heart and proceeded to devout it. And he was hardly alone is his brutality. Many other pirates were similarly merciless. Fictional pirates such as Long John Silver is a far cry from being unrealistic

Roguish antiheros such as Captain Jack Sparrow also existed among the pirates. Jean Lafitte was particularly helpful in helping the Americans win the battle of New Orleans which made him something of a hero to the local populace. Many established rules of decency, some tried to help help. Sparrow himself was based on the real life Pirate 'Jack Birdy' who was described as being 'Enigmatic and perpetually drunk'.

On a side note, here's a few other awesome facts about Pirates. One Tortuga and Port Royal were actually real places known for being Pirate havens.  And the Pirate code was actually founded by Bartholomew Roberts, though the Brethren Court itself was entirely fictional.

So the point of this article, is though normally fiction exaggerates and romanticizes certain topics. There is an occasional time where the stereotype is entirely accurate. And I desist.

1 comment:

  1. What about the fact that pirates, in addition to being colorful, were murderers, rapists, and thieves?