I went to a symposium last week to try and grasp the essence of Steampunk, and interesting as it was, I’m not sure I’m any further down the road in my understanding.
It’s all a bit of a minefield, is Steampunk and although I get the bit about Victorians being ‘splendid’ in their top-hats and goggles firing up their flying machines, the ladies on their arms wearing corsets outside their dresses and…. err, top-hats and goggles, the rest leaves me slightly flummoxed.
It’s started off as a science fiction genre rooted in the steam based past, with a nod towards the future, (think functioning computer made from brass and wood made to look like a typewriter.)
It was embraced by the fashion industry in the 1980’s adopting a modern day take on yester-year, hence the punk part.
Okay, so far, so good. Yup I get it, I’m sure I do.
I stick my hand up: “So, you’re saying Vivien Westwood and her see through gowns endorsed it as a fashion subgenre…?”
Oh, not Vivien Westwood and her see through gowns, that’s not Steampunk although she did make it a legitimate genre in the fashion world. Take a look at Prada’s fashion line; they’ve got it right.
Sticks hand up again: “Hang on, you did you just say Prada have a Steampunk line?”
So far, so confusing.
Okay, let’s try again.
So, this whole subculture is about fashion and invention and is more of a theory rather than a practical return to a past, which let’s face it no- one really wants to do? Can’t see anyone ditching iTunes for a wind up phonograph, can you?
Didn’t think so!
Did you just say a tea duel is Steampunk? Are you sure? You do what? You dunk your malted milk biscuit in your tea (china cup and saucer of course) for three seconds and the winner is the one who gets to hold out longest before shoving the unbroken biscuit in your mouth.
You’re ‘aving a laugh, aren’t you?
Then there are Vampire Steampunks (of course there are!) Lolita Steampunks, Jesus Steampunks and Goth Steampunks to name but a few.
Lastly sprinkle a bit of alchemy, Neo Nazism, magic realism and fetishism into the mix and then you might be close to a genre that appears to be a moveable feast.
So there you go, nailed it!
And Steampunk is so mainstream, a backlash of the genre, F**ck Steampunk has a Fanzine with a blog dedicated to trashing the historical period that never existed. Being a bit thick here, but if it never existed, how can you try to debunk it, or is it supposed a bit tongue in cheek?
What’s that, you want to know about Dieselpunk and Cyberpunk? Then obviously, I’m your man! Just pass me a malted milk biscuit and a cup of tea and I’ll tell you everything I know.