So, I was reading through Twitter yesterday, and came across a tweet by Ray Mears/Woodlore. It proudly read: “Ray found inspiration in Clark Gable’s ensemble in the 1953 safari film “Mogambo” for this new Woodlore product.” I thought it was probably some sort of marketing gimmick or joke, so I followed the link. To my great sadness, Ray Mears is indeed now selling “bushcraft” gear based on 1950s Hollywood’s interpretation of “the great white hunter”.
The “bushcraft” item being sold to us, for the bargain basement price of $118.00 (based on today’s exchange rate), is a belt designed after the one worn by Clark Gable in the movie Mogambo. If the price seems steep, don’t worry; it has Ray Mears’ name stamped on it, so it’s worth it!
As if completely oblivious of the absurdity of the product, the description on Ray’s website reads: “The Woodlore Mogambo Belt is a unique cotton canvas accessory hand-crafted by Woodlore's resident leather worker Becky Brewster. Trimmed with leather in the traditional Woodlore colour, the belt sports an embossed Ray Mears Bushcraft logo alongside a solid brass, military-style buckle. Ray Mears found inspiration for its design in the distinctive hunting gear worn by Clark Gable's character Victor Marswell, from the classic 1953 safari film Mogambo.”
For some time now you have seen me complain about how bushcraft has stopped having any connection to the outdoors. In some ways it has become just a sport in which we compete in our back yards. In other ways it has become a fashion show. We claim it is all about skills and living in the woods, yet we neither go into the woods, nor are willing to be seen without the latest bushcraft approved gear. I think this is the pinnacle, and logical conclusion to that trend. Why even bother trying to pretend that this is not all a big fashion show. We gather at these meetings, declare a champion in the “who can light a fire in the most absurd and impractical way” competition, and then we spend the rest of the meet eating bacon and showing off our latest retro (VERY IMPORTANT) gear. Few months from now, look for this latest “bushcraft” essential item. After all, it is all about using the resources nature provides…and a $118 belt that was worn by Clark Gable, brought to us by Ray Mears after many years of studying the traditions and native practices of the Hollywood Tribe of North America. Ah, selling out seems to be an essential part of being a woodsman these days.