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Friday, 6 May 2016

Pondering Things!

Last night, I had some downtime [ well actually every night I have some downtime] and watched a programme from BBC 4 about the History of Model Railways. I am of an age that makes model railways interesting.
 Anyway as a programme it was well done, and didnt seek to take the piss out of the enthusiasts being interviewed, in fact it was very kind to them. I suppose having Pete Waterman show off his wonderful setup demands some sort of respect, and he is a very skilled modeler in his own right.He also owns my local railway that runs steam engines, so he is a good egg in my eyes. I was disappointed that Rod Stewart wasnt interviewed, but you cant have everything.
 But I digress, as usual. Whilst watching the programme, I tried to imagine whether BBC4 could create a similar piece for wargamers?
 I feel we have owned the right to have such a programme, and we also have the gravitas courtesy of the origins of wargaming to demand such a project, ie  H.G Wells, Robert Louis Stevenson, the Prussian War College, Britain's, Tradition, et.al.
 Except when I really started thinking about it I'm not certain we as wargamers could actually pull it off without looking strange and well, a bit weird.
 The last serious attempt to make wargaming mainstream was Battleground in the 1970's, which although very pretty to look at, was definitely a niche programme.
 There was of course Game of War, which was butchered by most wargamers, but I liked on so many levels.
 But now, I don't think it could be done without some wargamer letting his 'normal' mask slip and either saying or doing something that could cause offence or just sound plain daft. I include myself in this by the way. Actually it is a given that I would open my mouth and say something that would cause offence.
 Although we have wonderful model makers, on a par with the train crowd, better painters than them, and probably more interesting subjects to show off, I somehow think that we as wargamers would shoot ourselves in the foot. Plus I can't imagine the producers of the programme would miss out on the opportunity to take the 'Michael' out of the wargaming genre.

 Imagine as part of the programme, a clip from the infamous SS Liebenstandarte re enactors, or some people I once saw in Sheffield who had pointy ears, and fake Hobbit feet, explain that one away. Then of course there is the wargamer who would inevitably sidle up to the camera, and start pointing out that the toy soldiers are wearing the wrong headwear, and should actually have soft hats on their bonces, before attempting to show the interviewer the contents of their matchbox.
 The number of times I have read a piece in the press where an earnest wargamer is being interviewed, which has ended up like an interview to the local asylum.
 Perhaps our 15 minutes of televisual fame has passed us by, and may be it is for the best.
 Plus I understand that television cameras put pounds on you, so I best forget that idea or get the use of a body double. [ Now is Tom Hiddlestone free?].







18 comments:

  1. Very true Robbie, it probably easier to explain a rubber fetishism to random strangers than to explain Wargaming. I have friends who are wargamers and then people I know who don't know I game, it's easier that way

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    Replies
    1. Ken,
      Its only the last couple of years that I have felt I am able to allow people to know that I 'play' with toy soldiers. It was always easier not to expose myself to ridicule and probably worse.

      Delete
  2. There is a film being made at the moment - no details to hand but I know they are interviewing some of the current big names.

    I agree in that the problem is balancing the suit and tie formality of Battleground which to the non-initiated was a bit of a snooze fest and the current crop of (some) FOW players running in their HJ t-shirts babbling about how the Nazi armies were better because of all the cool kit.

    Perhaps starting with Peter Jackson's work on Gallipoli and the Perry's Agincourt set would be a gentle intro before letting the crazies out.

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    Replies
    1. Pat,
      The problem is trying to find that balance.Make it too technical and it will be boring, make the thing too simple, and we will look just plain daft.Some of the scenes in Battleground were like watching paint dry, I usually turn the sound off and just drool over the figures and scenery.

      Delete
  3. I look forward to the film Pat and about time too for one to be shown. Robbie you make a good point.
    Alan

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    Replies
    1. Alan,
      I am a bit ambivalent about a film etc; sometimes it is best to hide our talents under a bush or whatever. I can guarantee that some one out in media/digi land will start a campaign to ban the warmongers and imperialists from enjoying ourselves.

      Delete
  4. Tom Hiddleston? Tom Cruise perhaps? :-)

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  5. Too much down time Robbie, you think too much! Get back to writing about Peter Gilder, the nostalgic golden years and stop worrying about the megalomania that lurks inside gamers.

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    Replies
    1. Graham,
      You're right, I do have too much time, and how great is that eh, after all those years when I didn't know my head from my arse. I hope to interview the gents from the original Hull group re Gilder in late May.

      Delete
  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  7. Robbie, its common practise in the media to portray those with hobbies as 'strange' because its not THEIR hobby. In reality, most people being interviewed about their hobbies will appear peculiar to others whether it was amateur football, clay pot making, playing darts, or playing war-games. Only a minority of the general public are media savvy and able, off the cuff, to express themselves in the most effective manner, and even they will require some editing by others in the media that are sympathetic to their hobby/faith/conviction/whatever. I have been involved in quite a few tv documentaries, but I now only watch about 3 hours tv each week. But I am often viewing Youtube, forums, blogs like yours for much of my entertainment and information. I now seek out and enjoy amateur voices that are full of enthusiasm compared to the dumbed down, politically correct media. I have a wide circle of friends, all ages, but whereas in the 1970s we spoke about what was on the box last night, today the tv is hardly ever mentioned. I guess I'm saying, give up on the tv and make your own programmes, including some about wargaming.

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    Replies
    1. There is one problem with what is a really great idea, and that is I am a Luddite. Although I have an IPhone, I can only make calls on it, I have a tablet, but only shop on it, I have a PC which I understand is soo outdated, basically I have a very limited knowledge of technology. Personally I dont watch much TV, but make an effort for my wife, who demands that I share some time with her, and not sit in a darkened room thinking too deeply about what is only a hobby.Youre also right about dumbing down, which is now a badge of honour it would seem, when I was a daft teenager, I could bore for England about pop music, football and capitals of the known world.

      Delete
  8. There was a cartoon strip called Claire in the community which concerned an overly officious and overly pc social worker that got adapted for R4, in one episode she went to the house of a gays black work colleague and was politely asked not to go into the front room, this became what the whole episode revolved around what kind of blue beard, s&m weirdness lay within and surely she would be liberal enough to cope, so she breaks in and finds something she can't cope with or understand, an entire Napoleonic wargames set up. I guess that's the perception militaristic, flirting with the far right as you said ss reenactors etc, so maybe put the TV programme on hold.
    Best Iain

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  9. Iain,
    I have given some more thought to what was really just a bit of fun post, and I now think that making any type of television about our hobby just would not be worth the aggro. There are too many opportunities to upset someone, who would invariably create a campaign that would cause us endless heartache. The use of media has become something similar to the Salem witch trials, point a finger and declare someone is a racist, militarist or whatever ist is in fashion and effectively your life becomes hell.It just wouldnt be worth it.

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    1. Robbie,
      Camrecorded uploads on Youtube often make excellent viewing, and you have a better chance of bringing others into 'history' hobbies. As for the importance of television, the actual numbers viewing, divided by the number of channels....... its living on its past reputation! Does anyone seriously think BBC news is worth watching anymore?...... a former employee of the BBC told me he goes to RT, AJaz, for international news. I watch SKY for breaking news but as soon as it starts 'analysing', I look elsewhere. Except for those that are into 'soaps', British and American television is a fading system for thinking people. Now, some good wargame videos, with strong references to actual battles..... great, and I place a bet the private-schools and the better class of State teachers would start encouraging others to view them, particularly if they have or want to set up school clubs. By the way, there are some excellent European-made tv documentaries on Youtube, including the Ottomans, I know we both share an interest on that subject.
      Michael

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  10. Only just found this- been busy selling soldiers. THere are 2 problems with wargaming with regard to television- both are in the name- WAR will put people off gaming will put others off. "Trains" are not like that. Also GW has infected the public perception of what WE do so that we are tarrwed with the same brush.
    Also you are supposed to look wierd on TV when espiusing any cause or hobby which the producers WANT to look weird. -Back in the day I did TV as a re-enactor several times and it was always- move the weirdos this way ....

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  11. Andy,
    I suppose we good start a Big Brother Wargames programme, they always seem to want 'people who are out there'.

    ReplyDelete

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.
Austria 1809.

Austrian Hussars

Austrian Hussars
Hinchliffe figures

Austrian Grenzer

Austrian Grenzer
Austrian Grenzer

Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2013
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Smoggycon 2012

Smoggycon 2012
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Smoogycon 2009

Smoogycon 2009
My French getting another beating