There has been enough lament now about steampunk going mainstream. I am still not sure whether or not steampunk has actually gone mainstream or will ever really get there, but one thing is clear: steampunk is no longer underground.
I guess all the people who are now lamenting pop videos with steampunk content also had a hand in bringing it out from cellars and parties in unknown clubs.
Continue reading “Do They Like Us?”
Something about Dylan Fox’s rebuttal to Parliament & Wake‘s op-ed about why steampunk matters even if it isn’t revolutionary (I wrote my own thoughts about it here last week) got me thinking about what, if anything, makes steampunk uniquely qualified to be a vehicle for “change.”
Continue reading “What Makes Steampunk Special?”
The administrators of the Steampunk Facebook group and proprietors of Parliament & Wake have an interesting op-ed on their site where they argue that, “as a movement of social revolution, steampunk has failed.”
Continue reading “Does Steampunk Matter If It Isn’t Revolutionary?”
European steampunk counts fewer numbers than their North American (and mainly US) counterparts. I’m pretty sure that if you would add up all the numbers in the entirety of Europe, you would get about the same as those for the United States alone (the US probably has more numbers than the entirety of Europe, come to think of it).
Originally there was a unison worldwide. Steampunks everywhere where in it for the same reason. If you spoke to steampunks from other continents, the same topics arose and likeminded individuals were easily found, no matter what country they hailed from.
Thankfully this is still the case, but sadly less and less so when one starts comparing some — frankly disturbing — recent developments in the movement in both aforementioned continents.
Continue reading “A Rupture Between Continents?”
Recently, an image of Justin Bieber wearing a steampunk glove or gauntlet was going around on the ætherweb.
There have been a wide range of reactions regarding the photograph. Many have voiced their disappointment or even disgust of steampuk going mainstream and someone like Justin Bieber using steampunk paraphernalia. Several commenters on Facebook and a number of forums and blogs have even declared steampunk to be dead because of it.
Well, excuse me, but could somebody please explain to me how Justin Bieber’s use of a steampunk glove and other apparel can spell the doom of a global subculture?
Continue reading “The Specter of Elitism”
Recently a group within the steampunk movement has stood up and loudly proclaimed we are a left-wing, politically active and even radical activist movement.
These people spread the word with vim and vigor and thus it may very well seem to many, especially those new(ish) to the scene, that this is what steampunk is about.
Continue reading “Popular Steampunk”
Not a long time ago, Nick wrote that steampunk means different things in different places. He talked about how in Europe, it is a kind of aesthetics while in other places, including the United States, it looks more like a cultural movement.
Because there are so many differences between people who enjoy the steampunk aesthetic, Nick suggested that it’s hard to call steampunk a subculture. Rather it should be understood as an aesthetic that’s applied in different ways. But it’s not just a matter of preference. When a lot of people around the world realize that they share appreciation of an art style or a genre or an interest in reviewing the possible political implications of the steampunk ethos, we are talking about a community that’s organized around a particular theme. While some marvel in the aesthetic, others are attracted to steampunk for another reason.
What we’re really talking about then is a movement.
Continue reading “Steampunk Is Not a Subculture — Yet”
What should steampunks do if their art or fiction or role-playing hurts others? Stop and abandon something that’s been part of the steampunk culture for years? Or ignore the feelings of others and have “fun”?
It’s a relevant question because the Victorian era had a lot of problems, several of which have found their way into steampunk even if we’re not always aware of it.
Continue reading “What If Steampunk Hurts?”
In a discussion about the punk in steampunk at The Steampunk Forum, Vagabond GentleMan from the United States raises an interesting point: steampunk can have different meanings depending on one’s location.
Vagabond GentleMan suggests that steampunk isn’t a genuine sub- or counterculture because, unlike earlier countercultures, it isn’t just scattered but divided geographically.
When a New York hippie in the 1960s traveled to San Francisco, he “pretty much found that the West Coast hippies had the same basic sociocultural mores and the same basic ethos” that he had, according to Vagabond. When punks from Los Angeles traveled to Baltimore, “they found that though there might be some superficial differences in self-presentation or philosophy, they knew the Eastern punks were gonna ‘be about’ the same sorts of things.” Same thing with Goths.
Not with steampunks.
Continue reading “Steampunk Means Different Things in Different Places”
Did you know that only one year ago the most populous dieselpunk community on the Web was the Russian one — about one thousand members? It was also among the oldest, established in 2006.
No surprise: starting conditions for the genre were extremely favorable. It was defined relatively early, in an article by Mikhail Popov published in SF & Fantasy World monthly in December 2004. Actually, this article helped to promote dieselpunk in the same way as a well-known publication in DarkRoastedBlend did four years later. So when in the English-speaking world dieselpunk’s right to exist was questioned and disputed, in the Russian-speaking networks it was legitimate and widely acceptable. Different communities, from weapon geeks to noir freaks, adopted it to label weird devices, retrofuturist art, megalomaniac projects, rare war machines, etc.
Continue reading “Half Full, Half Empty: Russian Dieselpunk”