Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Hey, When's Talk Like a Janjaweed Militiaman Day?

Okay, here's where you get to say, "Oh, PeaceBang's lost her sense of humor!"

But I have to ask it:
How come it's so funny to talk like a pirate, and why is America so into pirates, and why do we laugh about "Talk Like a Pirate Day?"

Aside from the fact that we love Johnny Depp as Captain Jack, and he's totally hot, I mean?

Here are some of the things that pirates routinely did: raped women and men, girls and boys (and probably the occasional octupus, for all I know), tortured their captives, starved and enslaved each other, slit throats with impunity, destroyed property, terrorized entire seaside communities and the high seas in general, thieved and looted, murdered, mutinied and did I say "tortured" yet? I probably did, but let me be more explicit: pirates were known to flay men alive, to slash at their bound victims with swords and then pour salt into their wounds, hack off body parts, gouge out eyes -- oh, they were real charmers. Interestingly, one thing pirates did not generally do in real life is require their victims to walk the plank.

So as much as I love the Johnny Deep thing myself, I'm just puzzled by all the general merriment around pirates. They were savage terrorists who specialized in slavery and torture, and it's not like they're so distant from our time chronologically that we can romanticize their bloodthirstiness like we do with, say, the Aztecs. Do you want your great-grandchildren cracking jokes on "Talk Like a Janjaweed Militiaman Day?" Or wearing Nazi costumes on Halloween? Because those guys are colorful, too, and probably have some great costume options. And I bet the Janjaweeds party just as hearty as any pirate as they're pillaging their way through Sudan. I'm just guessing, here.

When I think of pirates, I tend to get a visual image of a filthy, siphylitic sociopath whipping some strung-up captive to bloody shreds. And I just really can't so much get into the "Argh, matey" thing. Even though I love "The Pirates of Penzance" dearly, the actual pirate thing is just about as charming to me as the Spanish Inquisition or Al Qaeda.

I know -- I'm no fun.


Blogger CK said...

because pirates are totally tuned into the global warming thing.

they're like ninjas and such. sure, they've probably done horrific things. but they're durn funny when you're stuck in a cubicle for 40 hours a week.

says the woman who's not up for johnny depp, but for hot pirate girls.

Blogger Chalicechick said...

The Talk Like A Pirate Day FAQ answers that as follows:

Q. Not put a downer on all the fun, but aren't pirates "bad" people? Don't they steal and kill and stuff?

A. Well ... yeah. You got us on that one.

Let's get this straight. Real pirates were and are bad people and are in no way worthy of emulating.

We, on the other hand, are thinking of movie pirates, the pirates of books, myth and legend. Think Long John Silver in "Treasure Island." Pretend pirates.

But Talk Like a Pretend Pirate Like Long John Silver was just too long to catch on.

So when we urge you to TALK like a pirate, we don't mean you should ACT like a pirate. The Pirate Guys are solidly against pillaging, plundering and slaughtering like pirates.

Q. Wait a sec! Pirates weren't evil people! Their ships were democratically organized and ... yada yada yada ...

A. Arrrrrgh. OK, all you pirate partisans just duke it out with the Pirates Were Evil gang. We'll be over here drinkin' our grog.

Blogger fausto said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Blogger fausto said...

Because our beloved Creator, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, created them to keep the earth from burning to a toasted crisp.

Wikipedian Scripture tells us that "According to the Pastafarian belief system, pirates are 'absolute divine beings' and the original Pastafarians. Their image as 'thieves and outcasts' is all misinformation spread by Christian theologians of the Middle Ages. In reality, Pastafarianism says that they were 'peace-loving explorers and spreaders of good will' who would distribute candy to children."

Now that the FSM is no longer here among us, and pireates are threatened with extinction, it falls upon us to be his Noodly Appendages here on earth and be good stewards of all of his precious creation, even (or especially) pirates.

Arrh, by Davy Jones' boots, some lan'lubbers be dumber than a whole barrel o'headless kippers.

Blogger Jaume said...

Hey! What about the inherent worth and dignity of every pirate? We are supposed to respect every way of life, including such extremely alternative lifestyles as pirating around the seas. Who are we to question their motives? Surely there are very complex cultural issues that move pirates to do those things that, although may be upsetting for a culturally-biased capitalist Western mind, are perfectly natural in their specific context and we have nothing to say about it. We have to be inclusive and welcoming, and I actually wouldn't mind that there is a Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pirates that promotes their own unique approach to the full enjoyment of life. Surely they have a lot to teach us.

Blogger Paul Wilczynski said...


But ... how about the inherent worth and dignity of ... Hitler?

(Oh gosh no, Paul, please don't start that discussion all over again...)

(Paul grins slightly to himself but not publicly in case it might offend anyone ...)

Blogger Chalicechick said...

(((What about the inherent worth and dignity of every pirate? ))

When I read this, I made a loud, snorty laugh that made one of my coworkers turn around.


Blogger Doug Muder said...

Pirates are the dark side of Never-Never Land. If you don't want to grow up to be the gray-suited organization man society wants, your career choices are to be a pirate, an Indian, or Peter Pan.

The archetypal pirate makes his own rules and has a swashbuckling, exciting, adventurous life. That's what Depp is playing -- not an actual real-life pirate.

The fact that pirates are bad is part of the appeal. Society wants me to be good, so I'll show them -- I'll be a pirate!

Blogger Peg said...

Okay, I think PB raises an interesting question, and I think it has to do with gentrification. We're so far removed from the historical, actual personage of a pirate that there's no connection to the reality, and we can laugh it off because it's harmless. I think PB is making a very good point.

In a *much* different context, gentrification has turned the image of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., into a multiculti, socially acceptable, unAmerican-not-to-like-him fuzzy bunny. I deeply respect Dr. King's work, and I deeply resent the sugarcoating of some of his beliefs in order to make them palatable to the majority. The media has not only gentrified him but emasculated his message in the process by generally removing all traces of non-we-are-the-world-ness. If you read some of his speeches, there's a lot more to him than meets the eye, and the parts that could make some white people uncomfortable (oh, god forbid) are never discussed. Instead, he's trotted out once a year for Black History Month, TV stations will do 15-second "Honoring the Dream" spots, and That's.All. He -- and the Civil Rights movement -- deserved better.

Although I don't think it will be taken as such, just to be safe, let me say unequivocally that I AM NOT EQUATING PIRATES WITH THE REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING (I can't believe I just typed that) -- I'm making a point about gentrification and its various aspects. In my personal opinion, when you lose the direct connection, when you pick-and-choose the "funny" or "good" stuff, you lose the original whole-in-its-entirety, and it becomes a soft, toothless object.

I guess I'm no fun, either.

(PB -- I hope I haven't overstepped my bounds as a new reader.)

Blogger indrax said...

I think the difference is that Pirates are primarily theives, not genocidal.
I think the closest modern analog is the mafia, which also makes for good haloween costumes and entrtainment.

I'd say it's difficult to remove pretend killing and pretend killers from human playtime.
We do seem able (or willing?) to mostly remove certain classes of killers from playtime, but I'm not sure what the distinction is.

Hmm, Now I'm imaginging peter pan and wendy going up against gangsters.

Blogger claire said...

i think pirates are so fun for people these days because they are thinking of classic movie pirates, and the idea that pirates just did whatever the heck they wanted to do.

from a comment on fuuse.com relating to talk like a pirate day:
"the pirate stereotype that we playfully embrace ("yaar", eyepatches, hooks, parrots, peglegs, and puffy shirts) can be almost entirely attributed to Actor Robert Newton, who portrayed Long John Silver in the 1950 Disney film Treasure Island, other actors like Errol Flynn, and Robert Louis Stevenson's novel, Treasure Island. This stereotype has almost nothing to do with the reality of the nature of pirates, which none of us are actually celebrating."

and that comment was actually in response to a re-post which made it clear that there are still pirates in the world today, and they are still despicable in their actions. just because the US doesn't have too much of a problem with pirates doesn't mean that there aren't boats getting hijacked in other parts of the world.

the original post can be found here:
http://tinyurl.com/mgvph, and it's good stuff.

Blogger anakashiko said...

I am perhaps the only person on this thread who actually has genuine, direct, and documented pirate ancestry. It dovetails nicely with the rest of my ancestry, which was slave-owning Southerners or, post-slavery, KKK members. Given the choice to affirm pirates, slaveowners, or Klanmembers, I find the pirates to be the logical choice.

All of these people had inherent worth and dignity, as did the people they abused. In my opinion, all of them squandered this dignity. Luckily, God, a much more broad-minded entity than myself, saves pirate and victim, slaveowner and slave, racist and target alike. Should I find myself confronted with my pirate ancestors in a blissful future place, I will probably NOT say "Ahoy, matey!" and slap them happily on the back. But in my present life, thankfully devoid of actual pirates, slaveowners, and Klanmembers, I can enjoy ahistorical pirate clowning and a good (or even a bad) Captain Jack Sparrow flik.

Blogger LaReinaCobre said...

I don't think much about pirates one way or the other. Some people really seem to be love them, and I don't understand it.


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