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What do MOPs mean when they ask if something is real?

Posted: Sun Jun 18, 2017 1:11 pm
by Simon Atford
This story got me thinking. Are some MOPs (members of the public) so used to seeing things that are faked in some way that they can't quite believe it when see re-enactors cooking real food on a real fire fighting with real (if blunt) weapons?

https://notalwaysright.com/reality-bite ... ers/70634/

Re: What do MOPs mean when they ask if something is real?

Posted: Sun Jun 18, 2017 9:53 pm
by Brother Ranulf
In my former living history roles I came to the conclusion that there are many factors at work here and the answer is far from simple.

There is the MOP who thinks they can "see through" what's being presented as if it were a conjuring trick: I heard one lady turn to her friend during a particularly fine archery display by my colleagues and she said "Of course, it's all done with magnets!" I had visions of an enormous industrial electro-magnet throbbing away behind the earthen butts and people's watches, belt buckles and keys heading for the targets . . .

Then there is the MOP who is simply determined to disbelieve everything being shown: one visitor commented very loudly that my goose feather fletchings were plastic and my ash wood bow was made of plywood. Even when I demonstrated the technique of wrapping the fletchings with fine thread and stroking the web back in place, then showed everyone the slightly less than straight grain in the wood of the bow, this chap still thought he was right. For him and people like him, nothing is ever "real".

Some younger people seem to use "real" to mean "authentic", since they have probably never seen or heard that word. So they mean "Is that really what they used/cooked with/ate/wore?" Such is the result of the modern education system and the abandonment of books/reading/literacy/language skills.

Then there is the hopeless case of the woman who believed I was a "real" monk and insisted several times that I hear her confession - reality got more than a little blurred at that point. Several other MOPs at other events insisted that I must be a real monk, or a priest, or a vicar, or something of the kind.

Re: What do MOPs mean when they ask if something is real?

Posted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:53 pm
by knirirr
What I think the question means when applied to a weapon is some combination of:

1. Is that an original weapon from the period, an accurate modern reproduction or some sort of fake wallhanger?
2. Is it still capable of being used for killing the enemy, i.e. is it a live-firing rifle or a sharp sword?

So, to avoid doubt I would answer with something like "this is an antique rifle made in $YEAR and is still capable of live firing if the proper ammunition can be found", "this sword is an exact copy of a $CENTURY sword in $MUSEUM, and has been blunted for safety", and so on.

Re: What do MOPs mean when they ask if something is real?

Posted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:45 pm
by Lord Byron
knirirr wrote:What I think the question means when applied to a weapon is some combination of:

1. Is that an original weapon from the period, an accurate modern reproduction or some sort of fake wallhanger?
2. Is it still capable of being used for killing the enemy, i.e. is it a live-firing rifle or a sharp sword?


My experience in the context of having various WW1 kit and weapons on display is much the same - the question of something being "real" is generally used in the meaning of original, eg they ask if the Vickers gun is "real" meaning an original period weapon as opposed to say a modern made look-a-like.

Re: What do MOPs mean when they ask if something is real?

Posted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 6:24 pm
by bonnacon
This subject rears its head every now and again and is fascinating.
I will repeat a little tale I told some time ago - I was portraying a medieval character somewhere, I cannot now remember where nor can I remember who I was, but a chap came up to me, accompanied by his wife and two or three smallish kids. I was wearing wood framed spectacles at the time, and he looked at them and said to me in all seriousness "How do they work?" What could I say? I replied, in all seriousness, "You look through them", at which his wife grabbed his hand and took him and the children off somewhere else muttering something about being embarrased and looking an idiot.

I was immediately given a bo*****ng by my good lady who said I should have considered what the question really was and not how it was delivered. And of course it pained me then and it pains me to this day that she was absolutely right.

But there are times when the opportunity presents itself and a less than professional or helpful response is too much of a temptation . . .
:devil:

Re: What do MOPs mean when they ask if something is real?

Posted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:17 pm
by Lord Byron
bonnacon wrote:But there are times when the opportunity presents itself and a less than professional or helpful response is too much of a temptation . . .
:devil:


My favoured response to "Is it real?" aimed at the Vickers is - "No, it's just a figment of your imagination..." :twisted:

Re: What do MOPs mean when they ask if something is real?

Posted: Wed Jun 21, 2017 12:56 pm
by fv1620
I have two RUC armoured vehicles, one from 1956 & the other from 1966. To avoid the usual "is it real?" question, I have circumvented this with an FAQ board:

1. Is it real? - YES
2. Is it home-made? - NO
3. Does it float? - NO

None the less there is always a stream of people who feel that comprehensive tapping of much of the bodywork is needed to confirm the answer to FAQ No. 1.

After that there is often an assertion that:
1. I am not wearing a "real" uniform
2. I am dressed as a B Special, which I am not. The Reserve Force RUC was not the same thing.

Re: What do MOPs mean when they ask if something is real?

Posted: Wed Jun 21, 2017 2:55 pm
by Gobbler
Speaking as someone who has only recently became interested in historical re-enactments (and has not yet even attended their first historical event in costume) the question, ‘Is it real?’ seems to be quite a logical question to ask, as a way of opening dialogue.

To me, the question, ‘Is it real?’ reads as, ‘Is this item an historically authentic original item, on loan from a museum’s vault of exhibits, as opposed to a methodically researched replica made by you, the owner?’ Of course, lacking the correct subject-specific vocabulary, the member of the public is bound to simply ask, ‘Is it real?’

I know, personally, how hard it is to approach a complete stranger and then open a meaningful dialogue - especially when that person is dressed so differently to the social norm. (For example, how comfortable would you be in approaching a Jewish Rabbi or a Muslim woman, in a full-face burka, in the street and then start a conversation? I know that, sorry to say, I would feel very awkward indeed - even if I could muster the confidence.) I guess that, for many members of the public, approaching a historical reenactor at an event, they might feel somewhat similar. I am sure that the reason why you have been approached by members of the public is that they have seen your incredible outfits and have been wholly impressed by how you look and how you act: they truly want to find out a little more about what they have seen and find out more about your speciality. Acknowledge how awkward they must feel in their initial approach and just take it as a tremendous complement that they have made that first awkward step to talk with you, solely because your re-enactment is so truly astounding. :)

Re: What do MOPs mean when they ask if something is real?

Posted: Wed Jun 21, 2017 7:48 pm
by Simon Atford
Gobbler wrote:I know, personally, how hard it is to approach a complete stranger and then open a meaningful dialogue - especially when that person is dressed so differently to the social norm. (For example, how comfortable would you be in approaching a Jewish Rabbi or a Muslim woman, in a full-face burka, in the street and then start a conversation? I know that, sorry to say, I would feel very awkward indeed - even if I could muster the confidence.) I guess that, for many members of the public, approaching a historical reenactor at an event, they might feel somewhat similar. I am sure that the reason why you have been approached by members of the public is that they have seen your incredible outfits and have been wholly impressed by how you look and how you act: they truly want to find out a little more about what they have seen and find out more about your speciality. Acknowledge how awkward they must feel in their initial approach and just take it as a tremendous complement that they have made that first awkward step to talk with you, solely because your re-enactment is so truly astounding. :)


Which is why is it very important to give sensible or at least witty answers to what may seem silly questions. Talking to the MOPs is one one of the most enjoyable parts of the hobby for me and don't understand re-enactors who don't seem to want to do it and sit way behind a barrier and don't interact. We had an event a few years back where high winds curtailed many activities (we couldn't even put the camp properly) and whilst some others who shall remain nameless just sat down for most of the weekend at complained of boredom we chatted to the public. I call it engaging my historical anecdote mode and can do it even out of kit although it works best in kit.

Re: What do MOPs mean when they ask if something is real?

Posted: Thu Jun 22, 2017 11:14 am
by knirirr
Gobbler wrote:To me, the question, ‘Is it real?’ reads as, ‘Is this item an historically authentic original item, on loan from a museum’s vault of exhibits, as opposed to a methodically researched replica made by you, the owner?’ Of course, lacking the correct subject-specific vocabulary, the member of the public is bound to simply ask, ‘Is it real?’


This is an interesting point, because I would understand many modern items to be "real" even if not "original", e.g. my Brown Bess. This was made in the very late 20th century (AFAIK) by Pedersoli but is nevertheless a working weapon quite capable of being used in exactly the same way as one made in the 18th century. It therefore differs significantly from one made from the outset to be an inert wallhanger, not least in the eyes of the law. Hence my answer above when I will attempt to reply with both the age of a weapon and its functionality.

Of course, in addition to "real" and "original" we've got "authentic" to think about. ;-)

Re: What do MOPs mean when they ask if something is real?

Posted: Thu Jun 22, 2017 5:50 pm
by SteveC
Gobbler wrote:I know, personally, how hard it is to approach a complete stranger and then open a meaningful dialogue - especially when that person is dressed so differently to the social norm.
<snip>
I guess that, for many members of the public, approaching a historical reenactor at an event, they might feel somewhat similar.

Talk to them first is what I try to do. Once you've broken the ice it's easier for them to ask the question they really want to.
One of the most experienced (+40 years at it) members of our group recommends having a prepared 'opening'. In his case, he often has a map and if he sees someone looking interested, he will ask them to show him what route they used to get to the event. Every persona has an appropriate question or statement to break the ice.
Once you're talking to them it's much easier to judge what they really mean by 'it is real'.

Re: What do MOPs mean when they ask if something is real?

Posted: Wed Aug 16, 2017 9:04 am
by warrenzephaniah
This is an intriguing point, since I would comprehend numerous cutting edge things to be "genuine" regardless of the possibility that not "unique", e.g. my Brown Bess. This was made in the late twentieth century (AFAIK) by Pedersoli yet is by and by a working weapon very equipped for being utilized as a part of the very same path as one made in the eighteenth century.

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Re: What do MOPs mean when they ask if something is real?

Posted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 10:57 am
by Frances Perry
Agreed with the above.

Quite often the "is it a real xxxx" is actually not the question MOP want to ask but they don't really have it in their mind the correct question to ask as they might be embarrassed or a little worried about approaching someone dressed in "strange" clothing.

I actually prefer these MOPs, rather than the ones who say "what's that?" and then when you're half way through explaining what 'that' is lose interest and say "what's that?" about the next item on the table, and so on. A complete lack of interest in what I'm saying really gets on my nerves.

Oh, and those MOPs who actually have the knowledge and are clearly just testing your knowledge. To be clear, when one asks me a particularly unusual question for which I don't know the answer I usually say "that's a really good question. I'm afraid I don't know that answer to that one". Most assume all re-enactors are full-time history experts and are really, really surprised to hear that I have a full-time job which isn't history related.

Oh, oh, oh and the ones who use your answer to go off on one about how they watched a documentary on History Channel about XXX and how they know ALLLLLLLL about what period of history I'm referring to and blah blah blah *insert tired anecdotes and history clichés*. I just nod and smile to those ones.

Re: What do MOPs mean when they ask if something is real?

Posted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 11:17 am
by knirirr
Frances Perry wrote:Oh, and those MOPs who actually have the knowledge and are clearly just testing your knowledge.


That's always a pain.
One one occasion, as I the person I was portraying wasn't British, I was tested on the appropriate language as well. Luckily I had a better knowledge of it than my questioner. ;-)

Re: What do MOPs mean when they ask if something is real?

Posted: Mon Sep 04, 2017 7:22 pm
by FionaDowson
Then again, the spinning guild were taken to task by a re-enactor on the grounds that our wheels were reproductions :)

Re: What do MOPs mean when they ask if something is real?

Posted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 7:58 am
by Frances Perry
FionaDowson wrote:Then again, the spinning guild were taken to task by a re-enactor on the grounds that our wheels were reproductions :)


Errrmmm... isn't everything we have a re-production!!??!