Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The outer limits of authenticity

In my rant about Selma and its trouble, I threw much disgust at the farbs who were abandoning the event because of stricter uniform guidelines. As anyone can guess by now, I advocate authenticity in reenacting.

I think any authentic movement within CW reenacting does the hobby the most good. It separates the enthusiast from the people who jump on the next exciting thing, only to leave it soon after. Authenticity is a frontier that a "hobbist" reenactor explores. It's constant improvement and a learning experience. It provides the hobby longevity by providing ongoing interest.

I possess an uncommon insight into different eras of reenacting. I started reenacting in 1982, in the midst of onr of the first authentic movements in the hobby. The goal at that time was to *look* authentic by getting rid of the uniform trim, better leather goods, defarbing rifles, paying attention to correct drill, and having an authentic-looking camp. C&D Jarnagin ruled this era, and was the vendor of choice with most reenators, although there were doubts about the material accuracy of what they sold. That's the time I was really into the hobby and into the "hardcore" movement.

In the late eighties, I stepped out the hobby for awhile, but four years later in the early nineties, I was back for a season. The first authentic movement seemed to have died out, replaced by the second, which seemed to empathsize uniforms made of correct materials, dyed with correct dyes, and an eye to the small details. During this time, "hardcore" became a word of derision, and the hobby grew almost exponentially with events hosting thousands of reenactors. Authenticity was the realm of the real hobbist, with "mainstream" reenacting making its rise among the people jumping on the bandwagon.

Currently, I'm seeing what I consider the third authentic movement. Events in themselves are becoming more authentic, achieving what reenactors only dreamed of twenty years ago.

Now, I wonder, are we reaching the outer limits of acceptable authencity? Have all the frontiers of authenticity been reached or at least probed? You know, the point just before you either start shooting live rounds or eating rancid food to get dysentery to reach the ultimate authentic goal? OK, I admit that to be a bit toungue 'n cheek, but the point is made.

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