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Vietnam in Pennsylvania
August 17, 2009 4:42 PM   Subscribe

Civil War reenacting is so 2002. Vietnam reenacting is the new black. But really, if reenacting is your thing, you've got lots of wars to choose from.
posted by billysumday (59 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Can we do mash-ups? 'Cause I'd love to re-enact Vietnam era GIs versus Roman Legions. Take that Harry Turtledove!
posted by Standeck at 4:45 PM on August 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Lately I've been reenacting the Great Burrito War of 2008. Yum!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:45 PM on August 17, 2009


Um, no.


Just no.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:48 PM on August 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I like to go to Renaissance fairs dressed as an astronaut.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 4:49 PM on August 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


I enjoy reenacting the Cold War.
posted by The World Famous at 4:52 PM on August 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


I like the folks who go to Renaissance Faires dressed as Star Trek crewmen and play like they've just beamed down.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 4:52 PM on August 17, 2009 [12 favorites]


Me, I'm a Culture War re-enactor.

My mates and I take turns playing supporters of Bill Clinton and Ken Starr, laying it on thick with Dinesh D'Souza's, Samuel Huntingdon's and Noam Chomsky's books. When someone accuses me of being a donor-owned shill for the corporate sector, I show them pictures of Edward Kennedy running over Gennifer Flowers drunk and high on cocaine. When they draw tenuous links between me, Noriega and Iran-Contra, I accuse them of personally paying for teenage welfare queens to have abortions-on-demand.

Every now and then we try the Australian campaign and kick the living shit out of effigies of Paul Keating, Malcolm Fraser and Gough Whitlam, and accuse each other of having Orders of Lenin awarded in secret. There's nothing—nothing—like seeing your own opinion article in our simulated Bulletin/Newsweek skilfuly skirting the edges of defamation, the smoke of lies eddying in the breeze.

War is hell.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 4:56 PM on August 17, 2009 [26 favorites]


Sorry. I had to.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 4:57 PM on August 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I like to go to Renaissance fairs dressed as an astronaut.

You're just in one of those new-fangled submersible suits. My compliments to the metalsmith on the detail work, wot wot?

I enjoy reenacting the Cold War.

I personally prefer the great Hug O' War of Aught Two.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:57 PM on August 17, 2009


Wow, they are reenacting everything these days. How about we get in on this with a MeFi Historical Internet Flame War Reenactment Society going? The costumes would be so easy.
posted by TwelveTwo at 4:58 PM on August 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Isn't re-enacting the Soviet and British empires wars in Afghanistan the big fashion in Washington?
posted by sien at 4:58 PM on August 17, 2009 [9 favorites]


The best history has yet to happen

posted by The Whelk at 5:04 PM on August 17, 2009


Personally, I've always wanted to go to a Renaissance Faire as The Doctor, sent to 16th century England to prevent a Dalek invasion or something like that.

Or in regards to reenacting wars, I'd like to reenact the Zombie War.
posted by champthom at 5:05 PM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


How about we get in on this with a MeFi Historical Internet Flame War Reenactment Society going?

We tried that one year. Everybody just wants to be Serdar Argic.
posted by el_lupino at 5:06 PM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm a re-enactor for the Cola Wars. We get Cola-War era pop-tops and coozies, for the greatest possible historical fidelity. Last spring, me and my boys did the Battle of RC Ridge.

We lost a lot of good men that day.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 5:06 PM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


TwelveTwo: "Wow, they are reenacting everything these days. How about we get in on this with a MeFi Historical Internet Flame War Reenactment Society going? The costumes would be so easy."

Recreate '68 72928!

Just remember to wear your safety pads while mock-disemvoweling, everyone.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:06 PM on August 17, 2009


The line for people who thinks this is a beautiful metaphor of America's entire foreign policy for the last 40 years starts to my right.
posted by The Whelk at 5:07 PM on August 17, 2009


I like the folks who go to Renaissance Faires dressed as Star Trek crewmen and play like they've just beamed down.

That would be the Renaissance Convention & Star Trek Faire.
posted by crapmatic at 5:10 PM on August 17, 2009


Is this like LARPing?

M16! M16! I call firesupport on you!
posted by Pecinpah at 5:21 PM on August 17, 2009


LRRP LARP?
posted by Ron Thanagar at 5:24 PM on August 17, 2009


By the way, do you think there is anyone in Vietnam doing this from the other side?
posted by Ron Thanagar at 5:25 PM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's racist. Very, very racist.

(Apparently the BBC is very strong on nuking M&W from Youtube.)
posted by subbes at 5:27 PM on August 17, 2009


This is the only war worth reenacting.
posted by qvantamon at 5:28 PM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


And you will... stop us, if it's getting the teeniest bit racist?
posted by subbes at 5:30 PM on August 17, 2009


I'm re-enacting the Sexual Revolution.

Baby.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:31 PM on August 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


I want to re-enact the Light Entertainment War. I'll be portraying the role of Andy, the rear gunner, who, though quite assertive with girls, tends to take the submissive role in his relationships with men.
posted by GavinR at 5:43 PM on August 17, 2009


This makes me laarp real hard.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 5:44 PM on August 17, 2009


I had a professor who was a very dedicated French and Indian War reinactor, I think that he specialized in playing a fur-trapper.
posted by octothorpe at 5:46 PM on August 17, 2009


How do you reenact stepping on punji stakes?
posted by 3.2.3 at 5:52 PM on August 17, 2009


Hell, yes! In fact, I say let's kick it up a notch.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 5:53 PM on August 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


The interesting thing about the Vietnam War re-enactment is the ease in which it can be transformed into a kind of historical/cultural entertainment deal. The re-enactors set up a big firebase with sandbags, play Led Zep, Hendrix, etc, over the PA. Spectators buy MREs and whatever beer was usually airlifted there. I see a kind of interactive firebase experience where re-enactors are playing the role 100% but free to drink, play games, and so forth while "awaiting pickup" for the next UH-1 insertion. Spectators are sort of drifting through the camp and can talk to the soldiers and get some insight into the war. They can also drift into the command post and see what's going on there and see what the officers are like and what career path brought them to Vietnam. The camp is occasionally overrun by sappers, occasionally a VC is brought in, etc. Done at night and knowing there's Vietnamese re-enactors beyond the perimeter, this would be a really bizarre experience.

Of course I'm not saying the war needs to be degraded into a party or festival experience, but I see potential for an immersive cultural experience that's a mix of history and entertainment.
posted by crapmatic at 6:16 PM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like to go to Renaissance fairs dressed as an astronaut.

One of the main reasons I want to get a Star Wars stormtrooper outfit, aside from being a SW geek, is to wear it to Ren Faires.
posted by hippybear at 6:18 PM on August 17, 2009


We tried doing Yavin but it ended up being waaaaaayyyy too cost-prohibitive.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 6:38 PM on August 17, 2009


I reenact the War on Drugs. It involves me flushing bundles of $100 bills down the toilet.
posted by armage at 7:04 PM on August 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


How do you reenact stepping on punji stakes?

Very fucking carefully.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:20 PM on August 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


History buffs are awesome. I was raised by one. My Dad, an unassuming yet charismatic nerd married a beautiful nurse, who's best friend was also a beautiful nurse, who was married to a vice-cop from New York, who played semi-pro football and hockey, was loud, enormous, and upon meeting my Dad for the first time, informed him there were some old wooden whaling ships in New Bedford harbor somewhere. My dad had a flashlight in his trunk, and said, "Let's go."

This lead to a lifetime friendship based around doing insane things in the name of history.

The bicentennial, the 200th anniversary of the United States, was a Big Deal back in the '70s, bigger even than disco and cocaine and pet rocks, if such a thing can be imagined. So, there was a strong demand for Revolutionary War re-enactors to re-enact various battles. As it turned out, there were enough history buffs out there to re-enact every major engagement of the War of Independence, and it was driven by the history buffs. You can and should judge any "re-enactment" by the number and accuracy of the bad-guys.

My Dad and Uncle John? They were the British.

Not just Redcoats, no they were Royal Artillery! With absolutely to-the-hand-stitched-brass-button accurate Royal Artillery uniforms, and a "six pounder" black powder canon they and their buddies had to haul around because they couldn't afford horses. And they were not in the minority... at least half of the re-enactors were British or Hessian or Tory, and represented actual fighting units from the actual war. Of the "good guys," it was a surprisingly balanced mix of Continental Army, Militia and French units.

This meant when I was a kid, I had two sets of clothes... everyday clothes, and "colonial camping" clothes. The wives of history buffs turned out to be history buffs, too, in many cases, and my mom sewed complete outfits for us kids: I grew up wearing britches, stockings, tunic, vest, great-coat and tricorn on summer weekends the way other kids grew up wearing t-shirts and jeans. While enlisted men didn't normally have their English wives and children as part of their camp retinue, this was overlooked, as we made candles, tents, ran spinning and weaving demonstrations, and kept alive all of the arts of home and hearth of the era for the tourists to marvel at.

Did I mention we were the British? Unlce John's eldest daughter got into a lot of trouble in Kindergarten for belting out "God Save the King" during the Pledge of allegiance...

So, yeah, bring on the Vietnam War re-enactments! So long as the participants are aware of which NVA unit or VC cell they belonged to, and have the proper badging and weapons for the time period and location.

If they're all "Marines" or "US Special Forces", it's simply ulta-con public masturbation, and should be dealt with as such.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:35 PM on August 17, 2009 [133 favorites]


crapmatic: I could've sworn that someone planned to open a Vietnam-War theme park in Florida or Georgia or South Carolina or someplace, but all I'm finding is this.
posted by box at 7:44 PM on August 17, 2009


Slap*Happy, thank you for tilting my more cranky "Americans are drifters who abandon thier history cause they have no connection to it, so when they do feel the history urge they need to put on these huge stupid shows and recreations to feel apart of it!" side toward the more fizzy "Americans are goofy and earnest and fun-loving buffs who throw themselves head-first into whatever insane fixation they have and make a whole new art out of it!"
posted by The Whelk at 8:23 PM on August 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


If they're all "Marines" or "US Special Forces", it's simply ulta-con public masturbation, and should be dealt with as such.

You'd think they'd want to be on the winning team.

Speaking of which, how are the Bush Wars re-enactments coming along?
posted by pompomtom at 8:28 PM on August 17, 2009


Apparently here is my local unit, the 4th NVA Regiment.

Think I will join, rise to leadership and order them to engage the teabaggers at the Obama rallies. That will be a shock, attacked by NVA troops intent on bringing communist health care reform. Since they know they can't beat the NVA, the whole thing will be over in minutes. Its like their kryptonite.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:34 PM on August 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


I do this all the time, but I reenact being a member of a support battalion, mostly I just burn shitters in my backyard with diesel fuel and smoke Thai Stick.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:30 PM on August 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I reenact famous periods of peace. Right now, I am reenacting 3:15am last night, when I was very sleepy and nobpdy was yelling at me.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:32 PM on August 17, 2009 [12 favorites]


One of my fave re-enactment mashups happened when some Civil War re-enactment types showed up at the same suburban Memphis community fair as some SCA types. If some Klingon RPers had shown up it would have rocked so hard.

Anyway, it's not really a h4rdk0r3 re-enactment scene until they have their own book.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:10 PM on August 17, 2009


That will be a shock, attacked by NVA troops intent on bringing communist health care reform. Since they know they can't beat the NVA, the whole thing will be over in minutes.

Looks like they'll be ready for you.
posted by item at 2:18 AM on August 18, 2009


By the way, do you think there is anyone in Vietnam doing this from the other side?

When I first went to Saigon in 1993, I came across a Korean film crew looking for white faces. They cut my hair, dressed me up in fatigues, handed me an M-16 ("Be careful, it works"), and sent me into the jungle. It turned out they were filming a 24-episode miniseries and kept me on for a couple weeks. I played nearly a dozen roles – everything from infantryman to admiral. At one point, they rented out the entire (yet-to-be-demolished) former US embassy to recreate the final evacuation of Saigon, complete with Huey on the roof. During this time, I made a couple of beer runs – slung the M-16 onto my back, jumped onto my Honda 50 and rode through the streets of Saigon. Apparently, the secret police showed up at the place where I was staying, wondering what the hell was going on.
posted by Etaoin Shrdlu at 3:14 AM on August 18, 2009 [23 favorites]


I go to reenactments as a pacifist and conscientious objector.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 4:45 AM on August 18, 2009


There was a documentary on the tv a while back on UK WWII re-enactors. A disturbing number of people got their kicks out of dressing up as SS Stormtroopers, but insisted they were'nt anyway Nazi-ish them selves. Thoroughly depressing.

Went to a reenactment of the Battle Of Bosworth a few years ago. Was pretty entertaining... though I'm sure there was a greater emphasis on stuff going 'bang!' than was strictly necessary.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:53 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


It seems odd to me to be doing this when there's still plenty of actual living veterans of the war around to stand off to the sidelines and nail your farbisms dead to rights. I also can't imagine what that would be like, to watch something you actually experienced be playacted as history...it must be very strange.
posted by Diablevert at 5:54 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Super hardcore!

Saigon...shit, I'm still only in Saigon...sounds like fun!
posted by kirkaracha at 6:23 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


You think that is odd, how about this: "Civil War veterans recreated battles as a way to remember their fallen comrades and to teach others what the war was all about"
posted by smackfu at 6:32 AM on August 18, 2009


You can and should judge any "re-enactment" by the number and accuracy of the bad-guys.

Well, uh, I dunno, I've seen people get _really into_ dressing like Nazis, and that's always kind of creeped me out.
posted by Comrade_robot at 6:32 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hope the average age of the participants is nineteen, ni ni ni ni ni ni ni ni ni ni Nineteen
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:46 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, uh, I dunno, I've seen people get _really into_ dressing like Nazis, and that's always kind of creeped me out.

Well, you know, they did have the sharpest-looking uniforms.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:11 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cool, Bryan Ferry is on MeFi!
posted by Scoo at 7:19 AM on August 18, 2009


An old boyfriend of mine was a Viking reenactor. That's hardcore, especially when you build a meticulously accurate longboat and stand around it in historically correct Viking clothes - in the mountains of West Virginia, with no water in sight.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:57 AM on August 18, 2009


Slap*Happy: You can and should judge any "re-enactment" by the number and accuracy of the bad-guys.

I live in the south, can you remind which is which, again?

pompomtom: You'd think they'd want to be on the winning team.

Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha! *wipes tear* Sadly, no... A friend of mine who is a union reenactor (one of the Maine groups, I forget which) would complain about the inequality of the sheer amount of confederate troops v/s the union troops. He said at some of the more obscure battles, it ended up being three rebs to every union soldier.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 10:50 AM on August 18, 2009


Well, you know, they did have the sharpest-looking uniforms.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:11 AM on August 18 [+] [!]


Well, yes, but it's amazing how quickly people go from 'I look pretty sharp in silver and black" right to "The Waffen SS was totally blameless for any of the crimes of the Nazi regimes and totally didn't spend most of their time behind the lines looking for 'partisans' and 'undesireables'."
posted by Comrade_robot at 10:58 AM on August 18, 2009


Apparently here is my local unit, the 4th NVA Regiment.

A little URL hacking provides this culturally sensitive URL:
http://vietnam.midatlanticreenacting.com/images/Gooks_Goshen_2_.jpg

Good times.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:42 PM on August 18, 2009


http://vietnam.midatlanticreenacting.com/images/Gooks_Goshen_2_.jpg

Wow, those are some chunky NVA. There must be extra HFCS in their pho.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 3:56 PM on August 20, 2009


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