Fraternising with the Enemy

orcs lord of the rings alexis chateau cosplay

If you look closely, you can see the fear in my eyes. But we’ve jumped ahead: let’s start at the beginning.

Morbid Alexis

As a teenager, the Gothic subculture was very dear to me – partially because of its morbid preoccupations, and partially because I shared its love for the aesthetics of older times – the artwork, the fashion, the books.

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Yes – this was me the summer before college, at 16 years old in 2006.

During this time of my life, I learned of renaissance festivals in America and decided that someday I would go. I imagined myself waltzing in, in one of the many corsets I owned back then, with my red and black hair flowing loosely, while I held up my skirts and picked my way through the crowds.

But when I finally made it to the Renaissance Festival a whopping ten years later, the summer would permit me no such fantasies. Nevertheless, far more committed fans than I did dress up in full-costume, and assumed their roles.

The Orc of Mordor

While we explored the festival from dangerous stuntmen to a hypnotic show, out of the many creatures in sight, an orc caught my eye.

As a huge Tolkien fan – or maybe more so, Peter Jackson – I was immediately drawn to all the elaborate details that covered him from head to toe. Some of it he invented on his own, but overall, the sum was no less scary than how Jackson had portrayed the filthy creatures from Mordor in his films.

Michael noticed me eyeing the terrifying beast and urged me to take a picture with him. Determined to get a picture with my worst nightmare, he took it upon himself to make the request. Thankfully, the orc had better manners than most, and gladly obliged.

My heart skipped a beat – maybe ten. Because, you see, that smile on my face was not from happiness, but pure fear.

No matter how much I tried to remind myself it was all make-believe, his overall presence was just overwhelmingly intimidating, and he knew it! In fact, though the pictures can’t tell the tale, he spent the entire time growling in my ear – a low rumble that reverberated from his chest to my eardrums.

I was terrified, but ultimately drawn to him, and so I laughed and posed anyway. I was glad to have met him, and knew this was a moment that would go down in Middle Earth history somewhere.

The Lesson 

Unfortunately, this personification of “evil” as orcs and trolls and other well-known villains, subconsciously trains us to believe that “evil” is always this obvious. But the truth is, the worst things in life often come dressed in some of the best packages.

Thus, they catch us unawares when we begin to dig through the wrapper and the box to discover that we have been deceived. The gift inside is not at all what we wanted, and sometimes not at all what we need.

We learn in despair, that we have possibly been fraternising with the enemy despite all our best intentions to do otherwise.

Looking back at the “purchase”, we often begin to see all the warning signs we had ignored before. After all, as they say, hindsight is 20/20.

But why is that we allow ourselves to be so easily deceived, when the truth was right there all along?

My guess is this:

In spite all the wrongs in the world, most of us still hang on to a thread of hope and optimism that the good will win out when our own intentions are pure. 

Sadly, the universe doesn’t quite work that way, and in the end, we must guard ourselves. This doesn’t mean hoisting up huge fortresses to keep people and opportunities out, but it does mean being aware of the fact that the “bad things” are usually the sweetest, the most exciting, and the most charming.

All the best for the week ahead, and remember that “evil” very rarely walks into your life  looking like an orc at a renaissance festival…


~ Alexis Chateau

10 thoughts on “Fraternising with the Enemy

    1. Haha. I don’t know about adorable. He was pretty scary to me. Probably the most detailed and believable costume I’ve ever seen. You should try it though. Scare a few people!

  1. Despite everything, I tend to be the hopeful type, too! Still, I have lots of walls (read: skepticism) around that hope.

    And that orc costume is really unnerving!

    1. If you saw the costume in person, it would be even worse! He gave me the creeps for sure.

      But yes, even pessimists hope for the best. I don’t remember where I saw the quote but I do remember reading that behind every pessimist is an optimist that was disappointed too many times…

  2. I love Lord of the Rings too. One of my favourite films/books. The imagination and thought process behind each character and action is simply magnificent.

  3. That’s one incredible orc costume! Halloween ideas… Yes, first impressions are so deceiving. Sometimes what looks good at first turns out to be bad, and vice versa. Same with people! Unfortunately, it’s wired into us to make snap judgments about people based on their appearance when we first meet them.

    I watched part of an interesting documentary the other day where they showed people two photos: a conventionally good-looking man/woman followed (or preceded, I’m not sure) by someone less so, and asked them what they’d guess these people were like as persons. The conventionally good-looking person was attributed a host of positive attributes, like being successful at work and in relationships, and the reverse occurred with the second subject: not having a lot of friends, etc. I’m not sure if it’s possible to completely eliminate snap judgments like these but we should at least be aware of our own innate biases and try to keep an open mind.

    1. Yes, it was the best and most believable costume I’ve ever seen. He didn’t even feel human when he put an arm around me for the picture. He was born to be an orc!

      Yes, this is true. However, sometimes even when we get to know people the result is the same. After all, in our every day lives we don’t always trust only the conventionally good looking guy. We trust friends and family who at first appeared to be well-intentioned but later proved only to have a personal agenda.

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