Lies Hollywood Told Us About Pirates

Lies Hollywood Told Us About Pirates

If you want to know more about pirates, it’s best to crack open a history book because Hollywood’s portrayal of them is far from accurate. We’re talking about you, Pirates of the Caribbean scriptwriters. Yes, we know it’s just entertainment, but these films were popular enough to influence our perception of the fearsome sailors of the Seven Seas. Here are some of Hollywood’s exaggerated or straight-up lies about pirates.

1. Pirates Said “Argh” and “Shiver Me Timbers”

Sorry to ruin this one for you, but pirates did not have a special way of speaking. It makes sense since they were just regular sailors. So where did their distinct vocabulary come from? Well, it started with Robert Barrymore improvising the line “arrrgh!” during the 1934 version of the Treasure Island film. Then actor Robert Newton liked it so much that he did the same in the 1950 version of the film, and even infused some of his country accent and slang into the script. And that was all it took for these phrases to be embedded in our memories.

2. Pirates Wore Eyepatches

Next time you dress up as a pirate for Halloween, be sure to ditch the eyepatch. That’s because there’s barely any historical evidence to suggest that eyepatches were part of the pirate starter-pack. In fact, there’s only one pirate who’s been known to wear one, but that’s because he lost an eye in battle. If you’re still in disbelief, maybe this theory will put you at ease. Some people believe that pirates wore eye patches so that one eye could become accustomed to the dark, because it takes the human eye nearly 25 minutes to adjust from bright sunlight to total darkness.

3. Pirates Buried Their Treasure, Regularly

Pirates weren’t keen on saving, so burying their hard-earned loot was the last thing on their minds. The loot wasn’t always silver and gold, sometimes it could’ve been fabric, cocoa and spices. And once they got their hands on it, the crew quickly divided it among themselves according to their ranks, with the captain getting the largest share. The only time they did bury their treasure was so they could hide it from their enemies. Like that time English pirate Sir Francis Drake hid tons of gold and silver from the Spanish by burying it along the Panamanian coast, only to retrieve it later once they were gone.

4. Pirates Walked the Plank

Theatrics weren’t part of the pirate lifestyle. If they wanted to punish someone, they’d resort to flogging, marooning, throwing them overboard and even downright murder. Taunting their victims to jump off a plank just wasn’t their style, plus most pirates could swim since they worked at sea. The idea of pirates walking the plank came from the 1724 Robinson Crusoe novel by Daniel Dfoe, whose work influenced other writers and filmmakers to do the same. If it wasn’t for him, then maybe Hollywood wouldn’t run those plank scenes to the ground.

5. Pirate Ships Were Enormous

When you think about pirates sailing the Seven Seas, you’d imagine them doing so with large, three-masted galleons accompanied by a bunch of cannons. Pirates may have found them to be inconvenient as they were large and sunk deep below the waterline. So smaller, single-masted sloops were their vessels of choice, as it made for much quicker getaways. Hollywood, on the other hand, preferred to equip their pirates with larger vessels because it made filming easier as they had more room for the equipment and actors. And it made the pirates seem more intimidating, don’t you agree?

Recent Posts

  • Explosives are reactive substances that contain amounts of potential energy that if released under certain conditions can make things go KABOOM! It is interesting to note that there are explosive ingredients contained in everyday items although they are found in small and safe amounts. However, the use of large amounts of these chemicals can be […]

  • The term fashion trends can be broadly used as a popular style of self expression that is embraced at a particular time and place. This can mean trends in clothing, accessories, footwear and make-up to name a few. Fashion trends evolve over time and I’m sure that while looking at old photos of your parents […]

  • Although physicians are taught to use all their senses upon entering a room to diagnose patients, they rely heavily on laboratory findings from medical tests. Physicians also rely on equipment and instruments like the stethoscope to examine patients. One would not believe that smell is one of the senses that can be used in diagnosing […]

  • If you’re in the corporate world or affiliated with any organization, meetings are featured in your schedule. You’ve sat around the table discussing important matters and making decisions with your team, in an effort to meet various objectives. But how many of us can say that we’ve had the privilege of participating in a meeting […]

  • Fluent writers and speakers use literary devices and expressions such as idioms and proverbs as they seek to add dynamism and character to their writing or speech. Though we use them often in our day to day conversations, you may be surprised to know that many of them are misunderstood and therefore wrongly used. Language […]

Get the Word of the Day sent directly to your inbox!