Topic: Is the punk in steampunk dead?

Around 2006-07, we saw a divide open up in the steampunk community.

On the one hand, there was SteamPunk Magazine trying to turn this into a political movement.

In its inaugural edition, the magazine disparaged steampunk as "simply dressed-up, recreationary nostalgia"; a kind of "sepia-toned yesteryear" it said was more appropriate for Disney and suburban grandparents than for a vibrant and viable philosophy or culture.

On the other hand, people who rather liked dressed-up nostalgia were drawn to Brass Goggles, which dedicated itself to the "lighter side of steampunk".

It's now a decade later and I think it's safe to say the "lighter side" won out.

The punks know it. Kate Franklin and James Schafer recognized as early as 2011 that steampunk had "failed" as a movement for "social revolution". (Read my response from the time.) Eric Renderking Fisk lamented last year that steampunk had lost its "anti-authoritarian, anti-establishment aspects" -- and said he was moving on.

I'm not sure steampunk ever had those elements, but Fisk went further: he blamed "fair-weather steampunkers" for killing the movement.

"True" steampunks, he wrote (he actually used that word), integrate steampunk in their everyday lives.

Eric Renderking Fisk wrote:

You're either in a punk movement all the way or you're not. There are no half measures in punk.

Or, as Dimitri Markotin put it in SteamPunk Magazine #5:

Dimitri Markotin wrote:

You want steampunk to be a novelty, a LOLcat, a meme. I want it to be my life. Which of us is going to fight harder for it?

I don't know, but I can't find anything steampunk Markotin wrote in the last few years and we're still here.

Re: Is the punk in steampunk dead?

I understand why people would want Steampunk to be more "punk", but I never felt that it relied on becoming a political counter culture. It is great that it gears a community to consider a reflection of the past, in which we can correct the faults recognizable in retrospect. In doing so, it helped many to see where we could improve life in our era. I think this is a powerful and wonderful way to grow, both individually and socially. However, in attempting to turn Steampunk into a revolution, it was doomed make an enjoyable way to learn about what shapes humanity and society into a dystopian mire of our own shortcomings...

Love life, have fun, and let curiosity reign!

Re: Is the punk in steampunk dead?

For me, Steampunk is not a political movement or a tribe or a religion. It is an avenue of creative expression analogous to twelve-bar blues. I am thankful for the wonderful and inventive Steampunks and all of their contributions, including Dinsey Imagineer Tony Baxter.

Re: Is the punk in steampunk dead?

Jac the Knave wrote:

In attempting to turn Steampunk into a revolution, it was doomed make an enjoyable way to learn about what shapes humanity and society into a dystopian mire of our own shortcomings...

I think that's right. Just speaking from my own experience, this attempt to turn steampunk into a (left-wing) political movement soured me on the whole thing for a few years. It took the fun out of steampunk for me and I wonder if it didn't for more people.

Re: Is the punk in steampunk dead?

Put together my thought on this in an opinion piece for Never Was: Punk Is Dead. Long Live Steampunk!