Do you need a gun? A new dress? Better display? More shirts? Trousers? The answer is: None of the above.
Reenacting has developed a "stuff" problem. And why shouldn't it have? Most people knew they were destined to reenact the moment they imagined themselves in period dress. The stuff is a big draw. It is a big part of reenacting, but it's not the only thing.
In recent years the stuff has become more important than it should be. The current trend of "Accuracy is King," has reigned long enough. The beginnings of the trend were innocent enough. Everyone wants to be as accurate as possible. It's a noble goal and it's a great thing to aspire to; however, it has had some unforeseen negative side effects that have been a great detriment to the hobby.
The stuff became more important than the people. It stratified the hobby, fostered elitism, and dare I say it--promoted bullying under the guise of help. But the time has come for this to end. In the next few years we need to see a shift from a stuff focused hobby to a community focused one.
We don't need to hear about how farby one company dresses. We need to hear how friendly they are. We need to hear about how well they interpret and interact with the public. We need to hear how much money they raised for preservation and what research they are working on. The costumes are only one little part of it. After all, people learned, taught, raised money and had a taste of the past, even when the costumes were made out of nylon. Getting nice clothing is the easy part. It's time that we focus on the harder things like interpretation, preservation and community.
When I first started reenacting, I thought that I needed a lot of things. But now I realize that we only need 3 things:
1. Respect for the safety of yourself and others.
2. Pleasant Disposition
3. Willingness to learn and share with others.
The rest will grow from here.
A crotchety reenactor can have the best kit in the world but they're still crotchety. A better kit does not always equal a better reenactor.
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