Unfair Generalizations (was Re: And now to open up another can of worms...)
> I think what Ron is talking about here (and please correct me RonI hate it when someone looks down their nose in a holier-than-thou way at someone they consider a "farb" and tell them they should be more "hardcore". What you just posted though is much the same though in reverse in that you seem to have generalized that if someone considers themselves "progressive" that they are all about material culture and no substance, which I think is an unfair characterization. If I misunderstood, I apologize, but that's how it reads.
> if I am wrong) is that our hobby seems to be attracting
> more "progressives". They spend hundreds of hours defarbing
> their muskets, pulling teeth, eating hardtack, whatever, but when
> they are at a site and a visitor asks them a question they know
> jack about anything.
I do not think that good intepretation, self-education, and high standards for material culture are mutually exclusive.
I do not see anything wrong with someone being as particular as possible as they can on issues of material culture, be it making sure their musket is as authentic as it can be, hand finishing the seams on their clothing or making sure it is of period correct textiles, or advocating that people shave. That's all part of presenting as accurate of a picture of the War of 1812 as we can.
Self-education and interpretation are a completely separate topic. Regardless of what one's view is of how authentic is authentic enough, we all should be reading, immersing ourselves in learning about our period, and be able to relate that to the visiting public in a way that makes it tangible and relevant to them. If someone who has a "spot on" kit "knows jack" as you say, then shame on them, however I don't think ignorance discriminates. I have seen people in wretched impressions serve out bad information just as frequently has I have seen "posers" (great kit, but can't interpret or drill) fumble as well. I have also seen people in both good and poor kits do great interpretation, however I would argue the person with the better kit is more well rounded in that both what they say AND what they show represents the period well.
I think we need to refrain from stereotypes on both sides of the authenticity spectrum. I consider myself "progressive" and when I read things like "They spend hundreds of hours defarbing their muskets, pulling teeth, eating hardtack..." it comes off as unncessarily derogatory.
Yes, I've defarbed my muskets, but it didn't take me hundreds of hours. I don't pull teeth, either my own or that of others. What separates "playing soldier" and "interpretive living history" is the willingness to pursue what we can reasonably attempt to recreate. We can not recreate the hardships of disease, wounds or starvation without trivializing them. Hand finishing our seams, using proper materials, and presenting a more "martial air" to what we do can be done. The wisdom is knowing the difference and acting upon it. I also don't eat hard tack, but I do occassionally eat hard bread as it was known in the period, and it's not that bad...in fact it's some times downright convenient.
Again, if I misunderstood your comments, I apologize. However, the way I interpreted them is that all progressives are stupid, don't intepret to the public, obsess about trivial matters, and do stupid things like pull their teeth. To someone who does consider themselves "progressive", that is insulting and I think we can find middle ground on topics like authenticity standards without going in that direction.
12th US Infantry