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“Yo-ho, yo-ho a pirate’s life for me!” say some of the bungling buccaneers of Disneyland’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” (In fact Jack Sparrow repeated those words in the movie). Hook’s crew (or was it Smee?) sang something that went “A pirate’s life is a wonderful life…” Did they have good reason? Probably. I mean, all they do is sail, fight and steal. No paperwork, no 9 to 5. The occasional rape and plunder, is there. “The life” for them may not be that bad.
Society paints Pirates as bad guys. They’re the ones who destroy order and civilization as it stands. Mister (or is it miss?) Webster labels pirates as “one who commits and act of robbery on the high seas”. Paraphrasing the more modern, less romanticized version, it could also refer to one who uses another’s production, invention or conception without his or her authorization. Spitting it out in simple English, Pirates are just glorified robbers; Robin Hood on a raft and rigging.
As kids, we are taught that stealing is wrong, stealing is bad. We’d probably even have the emotional scar coupled with the seemingly permanent belt/slipper mark to remind us how wrong it is. And it even goes beyond just the human relations level, as the Judeo-Christian Holy Commandments actually state that “Thou shall not steal”. Imagine God actually telling you that to your face, with his big, big voice enough to make the Wizard of Oz sound like a mouse.
But popular culture seems also to have created the Pirate as the anti hero, where although negative traits and qualities seemed to be as telling of a pirate as the Jolly Roger, movies and cartoons and even some sports teams have used them in a more positive light. Although Peter Pan’s Captain Hook and Treasure Island’s Long John Silver still epitomize the pirate as the “bad guy”, The Pirates of the Caribbean quadrilogy (more of a series now with the rumored fifth and sixth movies, really) sees Captain Jack Sparrow as the main protagonist. Spongebob Squarepants (a cartoon for little landlubbers…err…children) has a Pirate for a Narrator, even getting the children to follow in unison “Aye-aye Captain!”
Sports teams the world over have also used pirates and similar brands as mascots and icons to represent a certain trait that they believe the team embodies. The Pittsburgh Pirates, the Oakland Raiders, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and locally, the LPU (Lyceum of the Philippines University) Pirates, all personify certain traits such as tenacity, fearlessness and with a gung-ho, never-say-die attitude.
Pirates have made it big in popular culture that, as the Official Site www.talklikeapirate.com says, September 19th of every year is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Aye-Aye Mateys, Buccaneers and Beauties be fillin’ the high seas! Arr! Yeah, apparently, as the site says, you can talk like a pirate in English, Spanish, French, German and Dutch. It starts you off talking like a pirate with its basic and intermediate vocabulary, complete with MP3 files to guide you on how to speak it properly.
So, despite our parents telling us of the evil of stealing, and the fact that nothing says “stealing is ok” better than a peg-legged, hook-brandished, eyepatched archetype, Pirates have been looting, raiding and pillaging for a living, something Society brands as outlawed and illegal, yet they are thought of as cool and idolized. Much like how ninjas (deceptive, dishonorable spies as opposed to the glorious, heroic Samurai) have also made kids wish to be like them someday, The pirate as a character is here to stay.
Ending with the words of Dodgeball’s Steve the Pirate : YARRR!!!!!
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