Why I hate the term Steampunk
and a few things of the sub-culture/style I both loathe and adore.
A quick search of google images brings up these first:
I could dig for more, but if you know what Steampunk is about, then you get teh picture. Anachronistic Victorian garments, useless industrial flair, steam-driven technology that borders on fantasy. Victorian Fantasy with a faux industrial sheen.
Punk on the other hand, brings up images like this:
There’s a touch of a dichotomy here, I would like to point out.
Punk, is about anti-establishment, it’s about fighting back against a broken system, it’s about the powerlessness and rage of the poor and dispossessed. Even Cyberpunk, which tends towards the dystopian, often comes across as disassociated with the poverty that springs from.:
It’s not that I have a problem with these styles, it’s the painful misappropriation of the word punk that is my issue. In the defense of cyberpunk, I have seen more that tend towards the underside of culture than the rich and flashy, especially since the earliest forms of cyber-punk dealt with social dehumanization and technological empowerment. But Steampunk is basically aping the upper-class Victorians, who helped form the core of the culture which Punk fights so relentlessly. Let us call it what it is Victorian Fantasy, and stop pretending it has any punk in it.
If it did, there would be more 19th century bums with shoddy industrial tools and genuine representations of the multitude of cultures and classes at the bottom of the heap. Industrial rebels, revolutionaries, malcontents, lower class, minorities and those criminalized by Imperialistic Forces. That’s what punk is about. Not glorifying and white-washing a brutally racist and expansionist empire.
In defense of the Victorian Fantasy scene; I think the style is delightful, and much of the art and writing coming out of it is downright awesome. There is a lot to be said for using times like the Victorian era and re-imagining them, especially a point in history as full of change as the Victorian era; but there really is no punk in it. Sorry.
Hate me, yell at me, etc, so on and so forth. Or don’t. That’s also cool.
PS: If you know of people who have genuinely fused punk with the victorian fantasy style, please, show me :)
Also, fuck steampunk.
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