Friday, 9 January 2009

The "Farbe" factor (or how to spot a "Rivet Counter")

OK, this is not exactly a rant, but it's not exactly an observation either, so bear with me :)

As you might have twigged from earlier postins in this blant, I'm an avid Living History buff (or "Re-Enactor"), and work on the Cold War period of the British Army.

Now, there are those who just don't get the interest, as with any hobby... there are those that frankly worry me with their attention to detail... and then there are the "Farbes" (from "Far be it for me to criticise your kit, but..."), otherwise known as "Rivet Counters". A recent series of postings on one particular forum concerned with Living History types like me went from what I thought to be helpful advice on getting certain kit on a budget, to frankly an out and out attack on our integrity to accuracy.


OK, there ARE levels of 'authenticity' in every part of the Living History / re-enactment hobby.

The Key Word there, by the way, is "hobby".

Yes, we can get kit that is perfectly faithful to the original issue gear (right down, if required, to the number of nails in a hobnail boot, for pointed example ;)), but surely the intent is just as important as the substance?

Most hobbyists (like me for example) do not have bottomless pockets, and tend, at least in the early days of our involvement in the hobby, to get kit that looks close to the original as possible even if it is, on occasion, inaccurate on close examination. Never the less, it's a cheap way of getting ready for our first displays - first hand knowledge is handy there, truth be told, and my task is, I will grant, a bit easier than, for example, World War Two Re-Enactors, as I and my team Re-Enact specific parts of the Cold War: As a result, original kit can be a damn sight easier to find for my team and I.

Anyhow, we tend, like many in the hobby, to replace inaccurate kit as time marches on, with either accurate reproduction kit, or the actual original kit if possible and financially justifiable (especially in these harder than usual times). There's your intent, by the way. Certainly, that's the way I attack the problem, and I'm sure there are many others in this hobby of ours that do exactly that as well.

So. Attacking someone and/or his advisors merely because the sole of a certain boot might not look quite right, when the intent (as posed by his original question in that thread) is there to do the best job possible on a budget, is frankly an out and out "Farbe" attack, and not at all helpful to the newbie in the hobby.

It also, I think, diminishes any useful advice the farbe might have had for the newbie, as the newbie tends to be insulted by the high-handed and arrogant behaviour of the farbe, and as a result will more likely as not dismiss any such advice as another attack on his abilities, principles, and so on.

Clearly, a case of shooting oneself in the foot on the part of the farbe.

So, the moral of this blant?

Don't be a rivet counter!

By all means, advise on the correct kit, the differences between the original gear and available/commercial alternatives, but advise, don't demean: Help, don't lecture, and above all, grow a sense of humour ;)

God knows we all need one of those these days, what with the attacks on our hobby, the gear and weaponry we display, and our very intents, under the spotlight as never before!

Here endeth the blant!

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