I love it when people go to movie premieres in costume, or if they make a good run at getting into the atmosphere at a faire. But when people dress in a costume and attempt to distract from an event, well a line has been crossed. There are times when someone dressing up is more like outfitting as the King of Burger King and stealing all your fries while you are eating. I’m going to give some bad examples and let you be the judge when I describe what flew up my…nose at a recent museum trip. So here is my personal opinion, although this is the business blog, I’m not going to claim it is how ALL of Phoenix Swords feels.
Here is a general idea;
Couple refused entry to Victoria’s Butchart Gardens because they’re too … Victorian
And the contrasting view
Putting Things In Their Places: Vox’s Much-Despised Victorians
Now as someone who has worked at both museums and Renfaires I have a pretty high tolerance for costumes and exuberant behavior. But as I’ve said in previous entries-people should be aware of CONTEXT and whether or not they make things difficult for the venue. Most folks working at these places are NOT making the big bucks and when you make their life more difficult you are not “putting it to the man” you are just making some low-paid employee unhappy and causing risk and problems
I went to a museum this weekend to see a replica ship. Some people totally got into the spirit by wearing funny hats and amusing tee-shirts. They clearly were there to drink beer, eat chowder, buy souvenirs and have a good time. The family dressed as Saxons-not so much. They made sure to station themselves next to this draw and when people asked them questions they made sure to draw attention to themselves and “quote history” at people. They were not there to have a conversation, or to add depth, or even meet like-minded people. They were lucky that they were not shut down by museum employees (and this one DOES have costumed reenactors in specified locations) but we had the impression that the museum folks were a little overwhelmed by the number of visitors and events happening concurrently.
We live in New England, people are accustomed to costumed interpreters and some asked
“Do you work for the museum?” To their credit, they did not pretend to do so. But if you are making it a point to stand out and be costumed, you are intimating that yes, you ARE part of what is going on. Good playtrons(Costumed visitors) at a faire will make it a point to know where bathrooms and first aid is and follow the rule about sheathed weapons. And will make a point not to detract from the act/event/thing that everyone else is there to see .
You need to examine WHY you have dressed up. If it’s to be part of something, that’s a good start. If it’s to be the center of attention –then unless you are working there, you should reconsider trying to hog the limelight.
It would be great if visitors could distinguish good and bad information but often they’ve come someplace to be entertained and then perhaps educated. If I hear someone talking about “blood grooves” in swords at a faire where we are working, I have been known to drop what I’m doing and leap in like Wonder Woman with a lasso of truth. I have to bite my tongue at many museums because if I do that then I am being just as bad as the first person.
Paraphrasing Jeff Foxworthy, you might be a glory parasite if:
- You are taking away from a main event that is not you on stage
- You are out of context and not in a good way
- You actively came seeking confrontation
- You have to speak loudly and make eye contact perhaps expose body parts to flaunt what you are doing (and aren’t onstage)
- You do not allow interactive conversations, it is all you-talking.all.the.time
- You are acting like a rebellious teenager with a fresh spite piercing
- You don’t work there and distract people from those that do
And most people who do this know they are doing it. I won’t say there isn’t the occasional clueless person but if we approach all interactions politely and yet that person is *extremely defensive* without cause…yeah.
Reenactors and enthusiastic costumed people can add a great deal to cultural institutions but we need to do it cooperatively, otherwise you’re just an asshole. And frankly I don’t want to deal with the fallout you cause every time I have to put on my kit and go to work. So JUST DON’T DO IT.