Join Date: Sep 2005
I either write nothing or I write tones…. My apologies in advance.
Greylocks: I have seen many people argue 'lets do something, lets stop sitting around' but very few provide a direction, or plan to back that idea up. Congratulations on presenting the smartest thing I have read in terms of an action plan for airsoft. You got me to sit up and think "Hey, that’s genius... why didn’t I think of that?!?"
All: I have been deeply involved in re-enactment for the last 7 years. Roman, early medieval, late medieval, jousting, SCA, living history, etc. etc. etc. I also have a few acquaintances in black powder and later style groups. I have run my own clubs and participated in running a few legal societies, so when I speak of re-enactment, it is something that I am very intimate with. I am not by any means the world authority on re-enactment, and there are others on this forum (Greylocks I know) who have at least as much experience in this as I do if not more. At least I'm familiar enough to pretend to know what I'm talking about here.
In examining the idea proposed by Greylocks, the counter arguments presented here and the possible repercussions of this action I would say that I heartily believe this to be the best thing we could strive for at the moment.
I would hope that we can all agree that what we do APPEARS alarming to the vast majority of people. 95% of what we are and what we do is lost to the general public. What they see are people shooting up schools, drug dealers carrying replicas and crazy violent youths practicing military violence for god only knows what reason.
If I can be so bold as to presume to speak for Greylocks for a moment, I believe that what he hopes to achieve is to envelope airsoft in a way that it can be presented or seen by the public in an understandable form. People will then see the ‘re-enactor’ first, and the ‘military’ second.
Most importantly I think we need to understand how the general public views re-enactment. I have seen people dressed in Nazi staff uniforms (swastika and all), surrounded by 'SS' troopers, all armed to the teeth (a clearly unfavorable presentation) talking to members of the public (soccer moms and all) and being respected as re-enactors. It is amazing how the public’s opinion will change from "look at those crazy cooks" to at worst a boring disinterest when people are accepted as re-enactors. Re-enacting provides it’s own explanation and logical reasoning for undertaking what may be viewed as 'improper behavior'. It is absolutely socially verboten to dress like a 'Nazi' in public. Why would you? Do you hate Jews? Do you want to kill babies? These are the questions people ask in their heads. However, if you are re-enacting, this creates a different dialogue. Suddenly the exact same action comes with an explanation to your motivations for doing so. OH, you are remembering the horrible things in our past. OH, you are teaching our youth so they wont forget. Oh, you are adding depth to the culture and interest…. Whatever they think, 90+% of the time it will be drastically different.
Everything is perception. Everything. Perception, without further explanation, is your reality. People see no reason for others to run around with real looking guns except perhaps if you are re-enacting. Otherwise, if one sees others fighting with real looking weapons (which are bad), then those same people must then be bad.
One of the major arguments against this approach is the resistance to having to change everything about how we play to fit into the small niche of re-enactment. Few people have the patience, money, discipline or frankly the care to ensure all kit, weapons, and actions conform to a set standard. I understand this. However it’s not really a worry at all. There a very few groups in the medieval world who conform to such stringent standards. Every group has different levels. The largest re-enactment society in the world and likely the most recognized is the SCA. They have some of the WORST (and at times best) historically accurate presentations I have ever seen. Have you ever seen a fur clad barbarian 'Knight', fight a Samurai after beating the snot out of another Knight dressed in an industrial blue plastic barrel??? I have. Yet this is accepted by the public (very loosely at times) as re-enactment.
What we do, and the level to which many of us do it, is very easily re-enactment. If you want to stretch it a bit there is no doubt in my mind that every one here could be presented as modern and recent-history re-enactors. So, no worry there, I don’t expect anyone here to hand sew all visible seams, or mix your shield paint from daisies, and no one else will either.
Gerkraz is absolutely right in his example of how paintball has chosen to represent itself. Whether we like it or not, some words are viewed by the public as bad: Guns, Assault rifle, military, Kill, shoot, tactical, sniper etc. These words are used by military sycophants who are planning to shoot up schools or kill policemen. I personally have no problem with the term ‘Modern Military Simulation’ in fact I believe it is an adequate description of what we do. But that is not the point. I play this game. I tell most of the people at work that I play paintball or do modern and medieval re-enactment already, why? Modern Military Simulation makes them think... so you are a gun nut? So you practice what... Killing people?
We as a community are taking good steps to help drive our 'sport' in a mature way. 18+ for sales, 16+ or 18+ for games. etc. We need to be very aware of how the public views us and how we present ourselves.
Why do I play airsoft? I like to try and test all the gear to see how it works. I like to look super snazzy in all my gear. I love to learn and practice all the associated tactics and really get a feel for what skills modern combat requires. I like to do something social with my friends. I like to know the realities of war. In the end of the day I like to have a pizza with my palls and tell tall stories about how sneaky and deadly I was. The phrase re-enactor covers all the above to a T and explains it just so: ‘re-enactor’. The soccer mom rightly thinks we are unhinged violent criminals waiting to prey on the public. If we aren’t, what are we? Airsofters? Millitary smulators? A buch of guys out shooting our friends
To date re-enactors have changed laws around the world in regards to carrying weapons and handling these weapons in public. They are a growing community with world wide acceptance and recognition. They are attractive to governments as they are starting to add more value to tourism and provide increased culture and entertainment. 'Gun totting nuts' have accomplish none of the above (peacefully). Make no mistake. To most of the people out there we are 'Gun totting nuts'. In the long run either we change this or they will.
Good show Greylocks. Don’t give up on this idea. I believe it is a phenomenal chance for our sport and I applaud you on bringing it forward. Don’t abandon this easily.
That was my $.02 of rambling on.
Your mileage may vary.