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Strange evening.

We had a troop of Amtgarders in our house last night--one of the more-established "foam rubber weapon, D&D-style" groups. Butterfly’s new boyfriend and his housemates.

There were lots of bloody jokes, going through the horror movie we were watching (Night of the Living Dead, the B&W original) mostly talking about how they’d go after [antagonist] with a battle axe or would have killed [treacherous character] round one, and then how. Of course, I'm not at all opposed to "MST" behavior in movies, but the pattern of the jokes was interesting. I wonder a bit about the cause-and-effect of the situation--it felt a bit like pack mentality (a group drawn together by a mutual interest in SCA/mock-fighting would, by its nature, emphasize those characteristics--in the same way that a bunch of vampire LARPers can get "gother than thou"--and then spend a half-hour arguing about what clan the vampire in the horror movie was, or what specific powers (or edition of the rules) the ghost was using).

I was more interested, from a sociological perspective, when they started trading what seemed very much like Creative Anachronism urban legends. There were three dominant myths:

1) Person is assaulted while wearing [chain mail, ring mail, plate mail] under civilian clothing. Person doesn't notice assault until it is pointed out to them by an astonished outsider. Two of them told the exact same story in this mode--a SCA-type was working at a convenience store, and while going to pick up cigarettes, they are stabbed, but don't suffer any injury. When they turn around, the would-be murderer is terrified, "turns white," and runs out the door. Later, the cops, shocked, tell them that they have a knife sticking out of their back. However, the reiteration of the story didn't indicate to them that this was a racial myth--rather, it reinforced the efficacy of the SCA lifestyle. Different FOAF (friend of a friend), though.

2) Person is assaulted while wearing [chain mail, ring mail, plate mail] under civilian clothing. Antagonist is terrified and runs away. Would-be victim kills assailant.

3) Person is assaulted by someone with a gun or knife, but messily kills them with easy access to archaic weapons.

The story that really put this into the realm of urban legends was the one about a girl that was assaulted in her home, and calls the cops to tell them to come to pick up the intruder--because she "maced him." The cops are shocked when they see the carnage--"No, I *maced* him," she says, showing them not a trademarked pepper spray, but a heavy mace that she keeps at her bedside.

The same patterns as urban legends--ending with a twist or, a bigger flag, a clever turn of phrase. The primary difference is the focus not on alienation and victimization (common themes in urban legends), but on personal empowerment (specifically through superior medieval technology, a "lost art" that all members of this group have access to).

Interesting. Not a bad crowd, but I think I've had my fill of bloody humor for the week. Fairly polite--I've never successfully fed that many people without having someone complain about the food--particularly since I was cooking something risky (Jamabalaya has a fair amount of spice, and shellfish as well).


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 28th, 2006 06:08 pm (UTC)
The armor part is a new one, but I've heard multiple iterations of the "and then he pulled [anachronistic heavy melee weapon] and the thieves ran off," both while around gamers and SCAdians, and online. So yeah, urban legend.

I can take it a step further though. This one anthropologist I was reading this weekend talks about how a disenfranchised group such as Tinkers or Romany will tell stories about them outfoxing members of the majority group, as a source of emotional comfort and power. Obviously I've heard ethnic jokes with clever Jews or Blacks outwitting or outgunning a majority oppressor. I'd suggest that the armor/weapon urban myth is a geeky attempt at finding the same sort of comfort.
Sep. 28th, 2006 06:39 pm (UTC)
(deleted previous comment)

*nod* I'd tend to agree. I'm not sure what the cause/effect relationship is, but gamers and money are not friends. Most of the career gamers I know are endemically poor--because of financial need or anti-authoritarian personality they can't pursue a college degree to its end, leaving them to a string of blue-collar/temp/unstable tech jobs. Add that to a strong cultural sense of religious persecution (Gamers and Pagans are from the same breeding stock), or a-religious persecution (reaction-formation from dealing with mainstream Christianity), and then tack on to THAT post-high school angst (how many geeks had a happy late adolescence?

There's a vicious combination of interrelated factors that create poor, angry gamers. Yeah, pretty much a disinfranchised minority. I'd strongly agree with that.
Sep. 28th, 2006 08:12 pm (UTC)
'So then, B'rer Malkavian said...'
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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