Fellow Pirate of the New World, founder of NOLA Pyrate Week (March 25 to April 4 this year) and dear friend Captain Swallow inspired today’s post with this tweet on Wednesday:
What the flaming hell is this misbegotten bit o' tat?!? That's not bloody Blackbeard’s flag! (link redacted for the sake of brevity) THIS IS! (again with the link)
The good and true Captain’s outrage is well founded and based on this:That is the “flag of the famous pirate Blackbeard” according to this article from ScreenCrave.com. The flag has no historical link to Edward Teach but is in fact the design that will be used in the upcoming movie Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Teach’s actual flag is displayed at the header.
Now, before you PoTC fans start huffing and fuming, allow me to point out a few crucial issues. First and foremost there has never been much in the way of accuracy in any of the PoTC films. I know that for a fact. I don’t know everything, in fact I’m ignorant on many scores, but the PoTC franchise is not and never will be history. It’s entertainment. So please stop brow-beating us about its historical relevance.
Second, I understand very well that this movie is based (very loosely it seems from the synopsis in the article) on Tim Powers’ novel On Stranger Tides. And that is a step in the right direction if you ask me; Powers obviously did his research. Also, as a writer, I salute Mr. Powers for his savvy attachment to Disney but allow me to point out that he knew what Blackbeard’s flag looked like according to his prose.
Third, I have no problem with fictionalization and the need to tell a good story but why mess with perfection? Captain Teach, like his contemporaries, chose the design of his flag with care in an effort to frighten and intimidate with symbols that would be readily understood by anyone of the era. An hour glass, a skeletal figure with a spear and a bleeding heart are hard to miss: your time is short, surrender your ship and your goods or meet bloody death. Frankly all the Disney flag imparts is step aside for sparkly vampire zombies. Which, I believe, brings us back to my first point.
I can hear the arguments already and still they fall on deaf ears. Captain Swallow, very much as usual, I’m with you on this one.