Arr, What Be the Deal with Pirates, Mateys?

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If ye didn’t know, today be Talk Like a Pirate Day! Arrr! Get in the spirit, ya limey landlubbers, and get yer best scurvy scowl on! More rum, arrr!!

‘Course, ye might be askin’, what be the big deal lately with pirates? Aye, it ain’t an answer that be makin’ much sense if ye be thinkin’ about the realism of it. Pirates, they weren’t e’er good folk, but he scourge o’ th’ seas indeed, killin’ an’ stealin’ an’ generally bein’ criminals o’ the worst sort! S why are we givin’ them such mighty applause an’….okay, I can only type like that for so long.

Still! The question remains, why are pirates so fun and fashionable of late?

Jack Sparrow: One of them wants him, one wants to be him. Which is which depends on how you look at it.

The glaringly obvious example and icon of the upswing in pirate popularity is Jack Sparrow. Handsome, dashing, clever, silver-tongued, roguish in the perfect balance of good man and bad boy. Women want him and men want to be him–hell, that very statement is the premise of the (original? first?) Pirates trilogy!

But as awesome as Jack Sparrow is or was (let’s just agree here & now, the 4th movie should never have happened), I believe he is but the poster boy of a movement of pro-Pirate sentiment that’s been brewing for a while now. And I say it’s origins have little to do with movies, even if there are pirate-movies going back a good stretch before PotC. Even if I enjoyed it in a guilty pleasure sort of way, Cutthroat Island just doesn’t have the charisma to start a movement.

 

 

No, I’m going to credit the pirate popularity swing with something else entirely: Napster!

In my freshman and sophomore year of college, I learned two new and awesome things. One, MP3s existed, and were

Look upon me and tremble!

awesome. Two, there was this program called Napster that I could use to download MP3s for free! Score! Of course, as it had to, Napster’s glorious free days came to an end when artists, y’know, wanted to be paid for their creative works. However, it started something of a revolution, and as we all know, the end result was a compromise–the prices of albums came down, became accessible through digital means and not in stores, and the gap between artist and consumer got that much narrower. Music was only the first industry to go through this kind of transition; TV and movies have gotten to this point, largely due to Hulu and Netflix, and the publishing industry is there now with the growing use of eReaders.

Back in the Napster days, those who downloaded music using it were called pirates. And pirates, in the end, changed the way that industry worked. The little guys stuck it to the Man and made him do things their way. Well, closer to their way, at least.

And thus did the Pirate become something we all wanted to be. Not a criminal, not a scurvy-ridden leech on society, not a violent slaughterer of our fellow man, but clever and unexpected, witty and persuasive, silver-tongued and showing those merchant ships that, oh, we will challenge your sense of entitlement, good sir!

Also, swashbuckling.

So today I hoped you buckled your swash, had a swig of rum, and maybe sailed one or two of the seven seas! Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day!

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