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Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a media critic’s life for me.

The Eugene Weekly’s “Letters” department, ever the forum for relevant and topical issues, has been seized with a new debate: the media’s glorification of piracy. Yes, that’s right, piracy. It all started with this, a “Monitoring the Media” column by UO Associate Professor of Journalism and Communication, Debra Merskin. Professor Merskin displays the steely nerve of the intrepid academic, cutting through the cultural clutter to confront society with its dirtiest, most inconvenient truths. And guess what? It turns out that pirates were actually really bad guys, who did really bad things, but have apparently just hired some great PR help since the 1700s.

You see, the life of a pirate was actually quite different than what is portrayed in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, or pirate costume parties. But if pirates were actually raping, pillaging, torturing and stealing (rather than say, acting quirky and hunting for treasure), how come they have become so beloved in our popular culture? Merskins answer comes from a book called Bold In Her Breeches (seriously), which she quotes as stating, “legendary … piracy has a similar eroticized thrill about conquering as that of Westerns, but to find it exciting we have to make ourselves blind to the brutality and sexist and racist attitudes that accompanied it.”

Despite the dire implications of her critique, Merskin seems resigned to simply simply acting superior about this one. “I doubt what I have written will convince anyone to take away their child’s pirate costume, halt the next community pirates’ ball or prevent anyone from seeing the latest Pirates film.” She writes, “That isn’t my goal. Instead, I ask that each of us stop and consider the source of media material and ask ourselves, “What is it I’m supposed to accept?” Our culture often becomes enamored with a romanticized version of the past that erases the truth of what happened to men, women and children at that time.” Maybe because of people like you, Professor Merskin, who feel the constant need make even the most light-hearted and entertaining topics as depressing and mundane as everything else in life. Next you’re going to tell us that despite the popularity and cheerfulness of Barney, dinosaurs were actually SAVAGE BEASTS who ate everything and were like, sooo opressive.

  1. T says:


    In Merskin’s defense, I think she only meant to criticize the positive portrayal of so-called “Hentai Pirates” on now-defunct websites.

  2. Derek Payne says:

    It’s rewriting history, and I won’t stand for it.

  3. niedermeyer says:

    Someone call the Pirates Anti-Defamation League stat!

  4. Dustin says:

    I for one am not convinced. When Disney puts something out they spend millions of dollars making sure that everything sticks to history, just look at Alladin if you want proof. I am appaled at the rampant piracism displayed by the weekly, pirates are people, noble, hardworking sea men and women, just trying to pass the time on this spinning rock. If you don’t like Oceanic Cruise Assailants (as they like to be called) then maybe you need to take a deep look within yourself and find out why you have to hate!!!!

  5. Tseren says:

    Reminds me of overly sensitive Christians getting all hot and bothered over the “true” meaning of Halloween.

    That’s what great about America: We take cultural and religious rites and practices and turn them into money-making events with different cultural mores and meanings.

    The melting pot, just turns everything into stew. I love it.

  6. Olly says:

    Somewhere, Anne Bonny is spinning in her grave. And, by the way, anyone in whose piece “Keystone Kops” ends up as “keystone cops” deserves a free shot at her sub-editor with a cutlass.

    Actually, the reason I’m writing this comment is to give Nathaniel Embry, of Eugene, a shout-out for his letter that reads, in its entirety:

    Oh come on, lighten up! Pirates are cool.

    Well played, sir.

  7. Timbo says:

    I love pirates. I have several piratey hats. Obligatory plug:

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