Monday, January 31, 2011

Creative Anachronism

Ron Patterson, the man jointly responsible for creating the first Renaissance Fair(e), died a few weeks ago. From a small backyard event, the idea grew into a multi-billion dollar industry, demonstrating the appeal of tights, doublets, ruffs, chain mail, and jousting for millions of Americans.

Haven't been to a Renaissance Fair? Then you're probably in the minority--there are hundreds of them held throughout the country every year. A pal of mine, Ethan Gilsdorf, wrote an excellent book about neo-medievalism (LARPing, Ren Faires, the CSA, MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, and the Tolkien films) that makes the point that these activities are the mainstream. My guess is that Renaissance Fairs are one of the most easily accessible of this kind of entertainment/hobby for most people, as they're ubiquitous, fun, and family-friendly (I insisted that my mother take me to the Maryland Renaissance Festival when I was a teenager).

Can't get to a Ren Faire anytime soon? You could always go to Medieval Times, although that could easily go awry:


Jen B said...

I am often reminding my students that "medieval times" isn't the best way to describe our period, suggesting instead "Middle Ages." I have resorted to showing them the website from Medieval Times to explain the ridiculousness that comes to my mind every time they write this in one of their papers. It never really seems to help. Maybe pointing them to this clip will help it sink in? At any rate, thanks for reminding me about this fantastic clip.

E. R. Truitt said...

Definitely show the clip. I also love the segment on "This American Life" when Ira and the gang go to Medieval Times with Michael Camille.

I've never been to one, but I think it could be a rad field trip for a course on neo-medievalism.

Jen B said...

Right! I only just recently learned of the This American Life episode - but it is fantastic!! I've never contemplated a class on neo-medievalism, but this conversation is making that more and more appealing!

Anonymous said...

Neo-medievalism! Now that's a captivating thought... will this take off after the steampunks have run their course?
Care to share any of your RenFaire memories? The faires were a big deal for those who grew up in California -- you never forget your first turkey leg and joust-off. And I keep waiting for a good RenFaire movie to come out.

E. R. Truitt said...

Although not a RenFair movie, "Role Models" has some excellent SCA/LARPing action. And then there's always this:

Jen B said...

Ooh, I can't wait!

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