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From Pirate Books to Movies: Why Are We so Attracted to Pirates?

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Pirates are quite prevalent in popular culture. From adventurous pirate books to swashbuckling pirate movies, they are a topic that never goes out of style. These characters are often romantic, mysterious, or exciting. Underneath it all, however, we know the truth: pirates were criminals and people feared them. So what is it about them that we find so attractive?

From Pirate Books to Movies

The focus of pirates in entertainment has been around since the Golden Age of Piracy itself. One can look to classic books such as Treasure Island and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Whether portrayed as heroes or villains, the point remains the same: they serve as interesting characters for exciting plots. When the Pirates of the Caribbean movies came out, pirates solidified their place in popular culture. And they only gained traction from there.

An Interest for Everyone

Now the subject of countless pirate books and movies, the line between hero and villain often becomes fuzzy or even disappears altogether. Even video games such as Sea of Thieves or Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag will put you at the helm of a ship, encouraging you to take out other ships for glory and cool-looking cosmetic rewards. Pirates are not just a subject of interest, they are an entire aesthetic with a broad appeal across all ages and styles. Children dress as pirates for Halloween, young adults get nautical tattoos, and retirees hang the skull and crossbones flag from their lake-front vacation homes. All this begs the question: Why?

What Makes Pirates so Attractive?

Julia discusses this question on the blog, Linda’s Book Bag, in her guest blog post, “Pirates!” Read an excerpt below:

Ask any historian who the worst people in history were, there’s a good chance they’ll answer pirates. The Golden Age of Piracy from 1650 to 1730 saw men commit some of the most heinous crimes imaginable, well beyond the simple plundering for which they’re known. They were the terrorists of those decades. Yet some three hundred years after its end, we celebrate pirates like heroes. Today, we hold pirate festivals, participate in International Talk like a Pirate Day, and wear pirate Halloween costumes. If pirates were so terrible, then why are we so attracted to them?

Read the rest of the post here: Linda’s Book Bag

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