So, this was brought up on Steampunk Empire. Has steampunk gone too mainstream?  Recently on Jon Stewart (missed the episode myself, so I have to rely on others’ accounts) they made a joke about steampunk clothing for sale on an etsy site.  Now, I have my own issues with many things on etsy and ebay labeled steampunk just to get hits on the page.  (I love regretsy’s steampunk page, by the way, absolutely hilarious.)  And I admit, when I see something with a few gears tacked on the outside, I cringe a little inside.  Comparing William Gibson to some of the authors on the market (who, to be fair, I must say was often a marketing decision of their publisher, and not the author’s fault) is like comparing a copper kettle to a cast iron dutch oven.  But these things do serve a purpose.  Steampunk Lite (I want to trademark that, along with Mainstreampunk) makes a great bridge for introducing people who have no idea what they are getting into.  Some of us grew up with Gibson’s work, with Jules Verne, with L. Frank Baum’s Oz.  Some of us didn’t.  Some of us have the talent to build things like the Airship Isabella crew or Jake Von Slatt, but many of us don’t.  Many people will say steampunk is about the music.  And you know, as we see it today, the music played a huge part. (No, seriously, if not for Vernian Process or Abney Park, we probably wouldn’t have the convention culture aspect, or nearly the fashion aspect, Neo Victorians and brown discovering Goths aside.)  So all the corporate intrusion has it’s place, just like the Neo Victorians, the Weird Westerns, the DIY Makers, et al.  It was never intended to be underground, or stay underground.  That’s like claiming Renessaince Faires and the SCA are an underground movement.

 

 

There is a lot more to the ‘punk in steampunk then being a sub or counter culture.  We don’t always fit in with the “normals” and the “mundanes.”  Hell, often we don’t fit in with the geeks and the freaks.  These knockoffs, these examples of exploitation, these tawdry attempts to make a buck have their place in steampunk, same as everything else.  Do I want to be overwhelmed with them?  Oh dear God in Heaven, no!  And a thousand times NO!  But, they do serve a useful purpose.  And if that’s how someone who is new to the Movement, to this Grand Experiment, to this Great What If all enjoy so much is able to identify and understand, THEN I SAY LET THERE BE SCHLOCK!  And nerdsploitation (I ripped off that word from a friend, but I wish I could claim it), and commercialism, and corporate ventures, and anything else that will help this idea I have grow, mature, evolve.

 

 

What makes us different is what makes us stronger.  Even in the face of capitalism gone wild.  Embrace the good, tolerate the less good, and encourage the new interest to learn and grow and evolve with us.  Because if we are so serious about ourselves that we can’t take Jon Stewart making fun at our expense as the joke and compliment that it is, then we are doomed.

Advertisements