Would You Buy Lemonade From a Viking?
I don’t really know why, but I find the modern concept of Vikings quite funny. I think it’s because they have such a strong identity in our culture, having been used in countless photos and movies through the years.
And really, what’s not to love about a bunch of hairy, carnivorous dudes…especially when they’re running around on a hot day trying to quench their (and your) thirst?
Thus was born my idea:
To me, Vikings are not necessarily bloodthirsty savages. Well, at least they’re not savages. The two dudes pictured above, Sven and Rathgar, are actually considered quite friendly in their own village. Sven loves to write epic poems about eviscerations, and Rathgar can turn any enemy’s bone into a piece of fine jewelry.
You probably see where I’m going with this. The point is that they’re not characters who are mean and nasty in their own right; they’re only considered that way when they’re removed from their natural element. Thus, when Rathgar decides to help a young kid sell some lemonade, he’s not trying to trick people into violent clashes; he’s just interested in proffering a refreshing drink in exchange for a small payment.
Of course, the back-story is really all academic. For the shoot, the first thing I needed was a lemonade stand. I went down to my local lumber store and convinced them to let me root around in their debris pile. I walked away with half a dozen pallets and didn’t pay a dime. For this concept, I knew I wanted the stand to look pretty gnarled, so I wasn’t going to build a proper one or paint it or anything.
After construction of the stand was complete, I needed to get a good Viking. I knew of, and had previously worked with, a local actor named Erik Braa. He was the first person in my mind when it came to this character. He’s large, funny, charismatic and, to top it off, a consummate professional.
Because of my background in writing, I tend to think of photos from a narrative point of view. As such, I wanted to explore the idea of a kid selling lemonade when a Viking approaches. At first the kid is scared, then the Viking helps him sell the product, but with his own unique twist. In the end, the kid becomes something of a Viking, too.
The way I see it, a Viking wouldn’t just sell lemonade. He would sell something much more hardcore. In fact, he would sell you the blood of your enemies…and he’d do it for free! Why? Because he’s a Viking! That’s the key to the piece, I think. It’s not that the Viking is selling lemonade, it’s that he’s selling his version of lemonade. Rathgar doesn’t think about whether or not you want a sugary drink on a hot day; he thinks only about how he can offer you something that makes you feel good, and in this case it’s the blood of your sworn enemy. See, Rathgar isn’t bad, he’s just taken out of context. For me, that’s the hook of the humor.
Soon, he gets the kid in on the action, too: “Rathgar teach you how to crush enemy skull like rotten fruit!”
“But first, you must take off your shirt to let the battle rage through you!”
In the end, Rathgar has converted the young boy and the lemonade stand is now complete.
But the question remains: Would you buy what these guys are selling?