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Author Topic: Is Steampunk Becoming Too Mainstream?  (Read 47090 times)
Josh of Vernian Process
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« Reply #175 on: August 02, 2008, 09:07:11 pm »

As far as I'm concerned... Steampunk went mainstream when this forum was created.

Maybe mainstream isn't the right word. Popular is a more appropriate word I think.

I mean when you have half of the current Goth scene (which is a lot of people) suddenly trading in their neon graver goggles for a pair of beat up leather ones, you have surpassed the "niche" genre status.

Now I'm not saying that is a bad thing. Quite the contrary, but before 2005, there was very little in the way of Steampunk message boards, or websites. Cory and I used to do the Yahoo Steampunk mailing list back in 98', but that was a really small group of readers. So basically the moment I started seeing Steampunk mentioned at all outside of our little group, it changed. I mean it's still underground, and will likely always be underground. But the popularity was spawned from all of the DIY tinkerers that started popping up in the past two years. That was unheard of back in the day (or at least as far as I knew) was seeing people 9outside of the cosplay scene) "dressed" Steampunk. For me Steampunk has always been about a style of fiction, not fashion. In my mind I always imagined Steampunk characters to just look like normal Victorians who happened to live around unique and fantastic technology. Not wearing bustle dresses with clockwork on them, or pneumatic ray guns attached to limbs.

However I'm not going to complain about a larger demographic for my music lol =)
« Last Edit: August 02, 2008, 09:12:13 pm by VernianProcess » Logged

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Sir Vrilhelm Dreadnaught
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« Reply #176 on: August 03, 2008, 02:57:10 am »

Seems that my attempt at a joke was taken a bit too seriously.  Figured the smiley would have given it away... Ah well.  No offense was intended and I'm not really a fan of overly PC language.  I was actually attempting to poke fun at it.  Apparently it just didn't turn out the way I hoped.
Sir, got the point. painfully others did not. I had a quip. You said "Mainstream" to which I equate "Average". Such terms are staticians attempts at control. [lies, damned Lies & Statistics] There really is no such thing as average, I MEAN, Steampunk is about avoiding THAT like green stuff on the brass!
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Benzworth
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« Reply #177 on: August 03, 2008, 03:30:18 am »

As far as I'm concerned... Steampunk went mainstream when this forum was created.

Maybe mainstream isn't the right word. Popular is a more appropriate word I think.

I mean when you have half of the current Goth scene (which is a lot of people) suddenly trading in their neon graver goggles for a pair of beat up leather ones, you have surpassed the "niche" genre status.

Now I'm not saying that is a bad thing. Quite the contrary, but before 2005, there was very little in the way of Steampunk message boards, or websites. Cory and I used to do the Yahoo Steampunk mailing list back in 98', but that was a really small group of readers. So basically the moment I started seeing Steampunk mentioned at all outside of our little group, it changed. I mean it's still underground, and will likely always be underground. But the popularity was spawned from all of the DIY tinkerers that started popping up in the past two years. That was unheard of back in the day (or at least as far as I knew) was seeing people 9outside of the cosplay scene) "dressed" Steampunk. For me Steampunk has always been about a style of fiction, not fashion. In my mind I always imagined Steampunk characters to just look like normal Victorians who happened to live around unique and fantastic technology. Not wearing bustle dresses with clockwork on them, or pneumatic ray guns attached to limbs.

However I'm not going to complain about a larger demographic for my music lol =)

I think the bolded part rather important.  Instructables and Make Magazine both started up around that time, which have helped speed up the slow resurgence of DIY attitudes by giving DIY'ers a somewhat centralized place to share their techniques in both web and print forms.  Combine that with people who like the aesthetic of wood, brass, copper, and leather, or generally like anachronisms and you get a rapid increase of people interested in steampunk.

I know for me, it was the projects, the things that various craftsmen have made that pulled me in.  I wouldn't call myself a steampunk the strictest sense.  I'm more of a Weird West than British Empire type, but anachronisms from any era fascinate me.  Heck, I've got rough plans for a Roman-style horseless war chariot I plan on building once I have the skill.
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Orlando
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« Reply #178 on: August 03, 2008, 04:06:49 am »

For me Steampunk has always been about a style of fiction, not fashion.

Sir,

I very nearly quoted the strict terms of origin of Steampunk in my first post in this thread as I know that any more general use of the term without this qualification (i.e. Steampunk style/Steampunk inspired) when referring to anything other than fiction, may cause some irritation to those like Cory and yourself who were into it at the start.  I did not, because Cory is sadly no longer here and it now appears acceptable to use the term unqualified.  I do acknowledge what you say, and I wish I'd been been there with you.

Orlando.

« Last Edit: August 03, 2008, 04:12:29 am by Orlando » Logged
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« Reply #179 on: August 03, 2008, 04:43:55 am »

The biggest concern really isn't so much about new people becoming involved, but more about a beloved niche becoming trend as opposed to way of life. All subcultures exist with a sort of eclectic but similar underlying philosophy, the one thing that truly holds it together as a subculture. This thing may never be agreed on, be heavily debated, but it is there. When punk made its transition from the gutter to the shopping malls, yes, a great many new faces found their way into the scene, but alas before long the entire bulk of the movement shifted from way of life to manner of dress. The same thing happened with goth, metal, hippy, and even country. As soon as some bright eyed CEO get ahold of it and decides that they will make a fortune off of it, the waters begin to muddy. As with any subculture, there are rites of passage, codes of behavior, manners of speech, and archtypical symbols that delineate and represent a cultural movement. When these things get bypassed by materialism and commercialism, the message loses meaning. Ask yourself, "What makes one a steampunk?", is it the DIY attitude, the attention to etiquette, an appreciation for style and fasion of a bygone era, a love of the arts...or perhaps a mix of all these things. Think back to how much effort it took you to find your way to this semi sacred place within the steam, how natural it felt, how your own true interests might have led you here to find like minds and comrades in arms. Now...imagine your atypical teenage kid (no offense to teenagers) who is into "leet noob pwning" going into hot topic and buying a bunch of "cool guy steampunk gear" and walking out proudly bearing their new steampunk brand goggles and top hat and declaring to all the world that suddenly they are the poster child of a new movement! This scenario can go two ways:

A.) They will completely destroy the outside view of steam by misrepresenting it, or
B.) This new interest will lead them to explore a new world that encourages intellectual and artistic expansion.

Unfortunately, A. will be more common.

Is steampunk becoming too mainstream? Perhaps, but what will be will be, and we are quite powerless to stand in the way of change. We can bite our own feet by attempting the elitist approach, and thereby becoming the thing we hate, or we can do what the other movements have failed to do, by being kind, welcoming, and polite. We can acknowledge the changes on their way, and do our best to pass on the hidden philosophy of Steam to the next generation, so that they will have a strong foundation of steel and iron upon which to continue the movement, to extend and improve upon it.

If you feel so strong about this beloved tick tick ticking in your heart, than stand firm against the coming tide, but not with fierce indignation, but rather a welcoming hand and a friendly smile.
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Hikaro Takayama
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« Reply #180 on: August 03, 2008, 05:16:03 am »

Guys, don't look now, but I was in Lucifer's own Department Store Wallmart (hey, I needed a new copy of Halo PC, and since most game stores in the US, for some reason, think that games released more than 2 years ago are "teh suxxor" I had to resort to dealing with the dark side), and I saw oil lamps for sale.

Not just your typical plain hurricane lamps either, but fancy glass & brass victorian styled oil lamps (mass produced in China, too)!  Yup! We're mainstream all right.  Tongue
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For protection, the eyes acquire goggles,
The goggles become a warning.
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Josh of Vernian Process
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« Reply #181 on: August 03, 2008, 05:20:36 am »

While I would generally agree with this statement. I still have a hard time swallowing "Steampunk" as a subculture.

I mean you don't call people that like general Sci-Fi "the Science Fiction" subculture.

I understand that their is this whole new idea of Steampunk having something to do with DIY, and Tinkering. I'm not going to debate that as it's pretty obvious by the amount of tinkerers interested in Steampunk. But to say that these people represent "Steampunk" seems misguided to me.

What about people that just like the stories of Verne, Wells, Gibson, Jeter, etc.??
What about those that just like Steampunk movies and Videogames?

Where are all of the regular non artisans in the grand scheme of Steampunk things?

I mean yeah I make music, and participate pretty heavily with the online Steampunk community, but I don't consider myself part of any kind of movement or subculture.

I don't know that's really the only thing that still bothers me about the current state of the genre.

The biggest concern really isn't so much about new people becoming involved, but more about a beloved niche becoming trend as opposed to way of life. All subcultures exist with a sort of eclectic but similar underlying philosophy, the one thing that truly holds it together as a subculture. This thing may never be agreed on, be heavily debated, but it is there. When punk made its transition from the gutter to the shopping malls, yes, a great many new faces found their way into the scene, but alas before long the entire bulk of the movement shifted from way of life to manner of dress. The same thing happened with goth, metal, hippy, and even country. As soon as some bright eyed CEO get ahold of it and decides that they will make a fortune off of it, the waters begin to muddy. As with any subculture, there are rites of passage, codes of behavior, manners of speech, and archtypical symbols that delineate and represent a cultural movement. When these things get bypassed by materialism and commercialism, the message loses meaning. Ask yourself, "What makes one a steampunk?", is it the DIY attitude, the attention to etiquette, an appreciation for style and fasion of a bygone era, a love of the arts...or perhaps a mix of all these things. Think back to how much effort it took you to find your way to this semi sacred place within the steam, how natural it felt, how your own true interests might have led you here to find like minds and comrades in arms. Now...imagine your atypical teenage kid (no offense to teenagers) who is into "leet noob pwning" going into hot topic and buying a bunch of "cool guy steampunk gear" and walking out proudly bearing their new steampunk brand goggles and top hat and declaring to all the world that suddenly they are the poster child of a new movement! This scenario can go two ways:

A.) They will completely destroy the outside view of steam by misrepresenting it, or
B.) This new interest will lead them to explore a new world that encourages intellectual and artistic expansion.

Unfortunately, A. will be more common.

Is steampunk becoming too mainstream? Perhaps, but what will be will be, and we are quite powerless to stand in the way of change. We can bite our own feet by attempting the elitist approach, and thereby becoming the thing we hate, or we can do what the other movements have failed to do, by being kind, welcoming, and polite. We can acknowledge the changes on their way, and do our best to pass on the hidden philosophy of Steam to the next generation, so that they will have a strong foundation of steel and iron upon which to continue the movement, to extend and improve upon it.

If you feel so strong about this beloved tick tick ticking in your heart, than stand firm against the coming tide, but not with fierce indignation, but rather a welcoming hand and a friendly smile.
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« Reply #182 on: August 03, 2008, 05:47:01 am »

Every subculture has its myriad of variety in levels of involvement. The punks, to use as an example again, had people in it for the music, people who were involved for political reasons, people who felt a creative urge to break free from fashion norms, and on and on. Steampunk was a subculture the moment multipule people of similar interests came together and took up that standard. I do understand your stance, and in every subculture there are those who feel the need to take that same position as you have, however, it cannot be denied that there are now steampunks, who don that title proudly, in a great many walks of life who might beg to differ.

To address your example of sci fi, there is a thriving sci fi subculture, with many offshoots and variances. One need only attend a sci fi convention to see them in mass. Trekkies would be a great example of this. People carve out their own place in the world, and any artist, musician, engineer, or otherwise who deems their work as "steampunk themed" has already by their own hand joined in some way with others who share that interest, be it intended or not. That is a common bond that builds a sense of community. Just by taking part in a forum or mailing list with Steampunk in the title, you have inadvertently acknowledged the existence of this subculture, otherwise all you would have would be a book club with a focus on certain period authors.

Just to point out, and this is in no way meant to be combative, but your own words show acknowledgment of a steampunk community and genre.

I mean yeah I make music, and participate pretty heavily with the online Steampunk community, but I don't consider myself part of any kind of movement or subculture.

I don't know that's really the only thing that still bothers me about the current state of the genre.
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subterraneansteampunk
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« Reply #183 on: August 03, 2008, 05:48:18 am »

When I think of steampunk I think of people getting stimulated to become creative and imaginative. If steampunk appeals to people and it gets them to think outside the box and create things that never existed then its all good even if corporations step in to help out a little.
  I was into the Goth scene and I love my new rock Boots, and I have a few Alchemy products but I also make my own leather products. I have always been a creative person, The Goth scene got me to open up to people and helped me overcome my youthful timidness.
  I am sure there are a bunch of people out there that are just getting into steampunk and as time goes on they will get that little push and their minds will explode with new ideas and creations.
 From the friendliness in the steampunk scene it can only attract more people. Its just to much fun. When you have a warmn atmosphere, friendly people and something that stimulated peoples minds you have a winning combo there.
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« Reply #184 on: August 03, 2008, 03:20:42 pm »

Let's play a little hypothetical game:

Steampunk becomes mainstreamed before this time next year. Brass goggles on Halloween, Hot Topic bringing out a line of vests and button-down shirts, and of course, the streets become choked with bustles. Oh, and Jules Verne's corpse gets dug up and given the Nostradamus treatment, with processions winding down the streets of France.

Why the Christ should we care? This whole debate reeks of elementary school-level "stop copying meeeeeee" nonsense and it needs to stop, right the shit now.
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Captain_MacNamara
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« Reply #185 on: August 03, 2008, 05:53:44 pm »

I concur... I realize that I'm new here, but bear with me.

We have a wondrous amalgamation of people, ideas, and beautiful works of (mostly) functional art. I have always tinkered with things, and I tend to joke that something isn't truly "mine" until I have customized it or bled on it. (I inevitably end up with small injuries from my tinkering.) I like many different things, and I like them because they're what I like... *not* because they are popular/mainstream, OR not because they are different *from* what is popular/mainstream. I wear odd clothing and accoutrements not to "rebel" from society or to be "different", but because they're things that *I* like. I stumbled across this "genre" during a google image search for keyboard modifications,and found the venerable Jake Von Slatt's marvelous creations. I lurked a bit, learning more and discovering more pieces of steampunk that I liked, and thus now I am hooked. Not because it's different, but because *I* like it. I've always liked retro/futuristic things, as well as antiques, artifacts, etc. If the steampunk asthetic becomes popular, I'll still like it. And I'll still tinker with my possessions, because that's what I do. Now, you may ask what this all has to do with this particular thread?

It's rather simple, and I've noticed this with other genres as well. People need to be individuals. I wholeheartedly agree on that count, but people need to also like something because it's what they like, not simply because it's different. If you cease to like something *just* because that thing has become popular, did you ever *really* like it in the first place? Or rather, did you only like it *because* it was different, and made you stand out and earn you attention? There's the heart of the matter, I feel. Some of those who are concerned too much with steampunk becoming mainstream *may* not really be concerned about the steampunk asthetic so much as the notion that something that once earned them attention because they didn't fit in is now being accepted more... and that, my friends, is a shame. When you feel concerned about steampunk becoming too mainstream, stop to reflect on what it is that truely concerns you. You may be suprised by the result.

Or perhaps I've taken too many electric shocks...
« Last Edit: August 03, 2008, 05:59:23 pm by Captain_MacNamara » Logged

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Josh of Vernian Process
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« Reply #186 on: August 03, 2008, 07:23:21 pm »

I couldn't agree with you more.

And Churchwarden, you bring up some good points, and I also agree with you for the most part. I think maybe it would help if I explained why I don't like "subcultures". Especially flashy/fashion oriented ones.

When you belong to or identify with a subculture, you become branded by that subculture.

For instance, one of the things I hated most about being involved with the Goth scene, was that everyone I met just assumed I only listened to Goth music. The same thing happened when I was younger and hung out with the Punk kids.

But I have always had my hands in many different subcultures simultaneously, because I like what I like, and I don't care if other people like it or not. I love a lot of Hip-Hop and people would never assume that based on my choice in clothing.

Also subcultures have always felt like they were created so people could focus their entire lifestyle around a fictitious persona, or attitude. Like how Goths go by surname's... "Lady Ravenclaw", or "Lord Wolf Fang" (lol). Just as how I see a lot of Steampunk fans go by "Prof. (insert clever Victorian pun)", etc.

I get why people do those things, but I just don't see the appeal? I probably sound like a big ex-goth hypocrite (hell I've had plenty of silly surnames). I guess maybe I'm just past that phase of needing to be accepted by my peers.

If you couldn't tell already I really hate being categorized. I would not like it if someone came up to me and called me a Steampunk, just as I wouldn't like being called a Goth, or a Deathrocker, or a Waver, or a Rivethead... you get the point.

I mean I'll accept it, and not try to put too much care into it, but I'd much rather be addressed by my real name, or just "Hey you".

If you ever meet me in person, please don't call me "Mr. Process" or "Vernian". hahaha...
My real name is "Josh", and it's all I like to be called.  Cheesy



I concur... I realize that I'm new here, but bear with me.

We have a wondrous amalgamation of people, ideas, and beautiful works of (mostly) functional art. I have always tinkered with things, and I tend to joke that something isn't truly "mine" until I have customized it or bled on it. (I inevitably end up with small injuries from my tinkering.) I like many different things, and I like them because they're what I like... *not* because they are popular/mainstream, OR not because they are different *from* what is popular/mainstream. I wear odd clothing and accoutrements not to "rebel" from society or to be "different", but because they're things that *I* like. I stumbled across this "genre" during a google image search for keyboard modifications,and found the venerable Jake Von Slatt's marvelous creations. I lurked a bit, learning more and discovering more pieces of steampunk that I liked, and thus now I am hooked. Not because it's different, but because *I* like it. I've always liked retro/futuristic things, as well as antiques, artifacts, etc. If the steampunk asthetic becomes popular, I'll still like it. And I'll still tinker with my possessions, because that's what I do. Now, you may ask what this all has to do with this particular thread?

It's rather simple, and I've noticed this with other genres as well. People need to be individuals. I wholeheartedly agree on that count, but people need to also like something because it's what they like, not simply because it's different. If you cease to like something *just* because that thing has become popular, did you ever *really* like it in the first place? Or rather, did you only like it *because* it was different, and made you stand out and earn you attention? There's the heart of the matter, I feel. Some of those who are concerned too much with steampunk becoming mainstream *may* not really be concerned about the steampunk asthetic so much as the notion that something that once earned them attention because they didn't fit in is now being accepted more... and that, my friends, is a shame. When you feel concerned about steampunk becoming too mainstream, stop to reflect on what it is that truely concerns you. You may be suprised by the result.

Or perhaps I've taken too many electric shocks...
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Captain_MacNamara
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« Reply #187 on: August 03, 2008, 08:10:41 pm »

A touch off topic, but my name is Josiah... I also go by Josh for short  Tongue And my real last name is McNamara... Although before coming to America, the family name was spelled MacNamara. The Captain part comes from my SCA persona, the Captain of a pirate vessel. My crew, both at and away from events, tend to call me Captain. I'll answer to that or Josh should anyone ever meet me.  Grin
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flywheel
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« Reply #188 on: August 03, 2008, 08:18:56 pm »

One should be delighted at the possibility that a group of positive, informed, creative, civic minded, etc., people might have a significant impact on an increasingly uncivilized culture, not dismayed, not morbidly fixated on impending doom. The rumors of enlightenment's death have been greatly exaggerated, to paraphrase Mark Twain.

To me, the debate seems to be driven by concepts like "the end of innocence", which is in itself a shorthand for the transition from youth to adulthood. Just because a microculture grows up doesn't necessarily mean that it is going to die. Human institutions, both good and bad, often live on long after their creators pass. That is especially true when a culture is not a new one, but rather a variation on the revival of an older, and previously successful one.

Humbly submitted for your approval.
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subterraneansteampunk
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« Reply #189 on: August 03, 2008, 11:42:49 pm »

I couldn't agree with you more.

And Churchwarden, you bring up some good points, and I also agree with you for the most part. I think maybe it would help if I explained why I don't like "subcultures". Especially flashy/fashion oriented ones.

When you belong to or identify with a subculture, you become branded by that subculture.

For instance, one of the things I hated most about being involved with the Goth scene, was that everyone I met just assumed I only listened to Goth music. The same thing happened when I was younger and hung out with the Punk kids.

But I have always had my hands in many different subcultures simultaneously, because I like what I like, and I don't care if other people like it or not. I love a lot of Hip-Hop and people would never assume that based on my choice in clothing.

Also subcultures have always felt like they were created so people could focus their entire lifestyle around a fictitious persona, or attitude. Like how Goths go by surname's... "Lady Ravenclaw", or "Lord Wolf Fang" (lol). Just as how I see a lot of Steampunk fans go by "Prof. (insert clever Victorian pun)", etc.

I get why people do those things, but I just don't see the appeal? I probably sound like a big ex-goth hypocrite (hell I've had plenty of silly surnames). I guess maybe I'm just past that phase of needing to be accepted by my peers.

If you couldn't tell already I really hate being categorized. I would not like it if someone came up to me and called me a Steampunk, just as I wouldn't like being called a Goth, or a Deathrocker, or a Waver, or a Rivethead... you get the point.

I mean I'll accept it, and not try to put too much care into it, but I'd much rather be addressed by my real name, or just "Hey you".

If you ever meet me in person, please don't call me "Mr. Process" or "Vernian". hahaha...
My real name is "Josh", and it's all I like to be called.  Cheesy



Dont you love how Goth is now called emo? actually if you wear black or eyeliner people call you emo. I think its pretty funny how Sterotype descriptions have become so lazy .
« Last Edit: August 03, 2008, 11:44:48 pm by subterraneansteampunk » Logged
Stella Gaslight
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« Reply #190 on: August 04, 2008, 12:19:20 am »

I do dress up in some form of steampunk finery once a week but I don't have a persona that goes with the clothes nor would I want one because it would limit me to a particular style.  I like being able to go from adventurer gear to a ball gown If I feel like it.  Some of the outfits have names tho because it makes things easier to refer to. Like the difference between saying the black ruffled skirt with the blue and back pinstriped vest and the black puffy sleeved shirt with the blue trim and the Evil cupcake dress. 

If you ever meet me feel free to call me Ashely, Stella or the lion tamer.(The last one was said by a little boy and it made my day)   I will answer to any of those and then some. My mother was spectacularly bad at calling about the right name and anything has to be better than being called Toy or Marko.(our dogs names)  No matter what you call me you will be talking to the same person.  I like roll play but it ends when the game does.

Every fandom and subculture I have ever been in has suffered growing pains like this and many have reacted in similar ways.  I think being a bit weary of change in ones favorite things is universal but I have learned that no amount of gnashing of teeth or wailing can stop it.  Out of all the fandoms I have ridden as they climbed the waves of popularity not a single one changed or distorted so badly I couldn't remember why I loved it in the first place.  Things will happen with or without us so we night as well enjoy the ride. 
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elShoggotho
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« Reply #191 on: August 04, 2008, 12:31:34 am »

Always remember that it was, or at least parts of it were, mainstream during the final years of Our Eternal Empress Victoria's Earthly reign. Blast and confound it! Wink
« Last Edit: August 04, 2008, 12:35:28 am by elShoggotho » Logged
PrinceAuryn
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« Reply #192 on: August 04, 2008, 03:59:22 am »

To me, I see a paradox in your words. At the one hand, you like to (and probably do) decide for yourself what Steampunk is. And at the other hand, you worry about corporations making money with Steampunk.

If you declare the former to be true, how can you be bothered by the latter? Even if all the companies in the known world would create a veritable universe of (self-proclaimed) Steampunk items, it would not make 'your' Steampunk disappear or obsolete.

Quote for truth, as they say. 
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« Reply #193 on: August 04, 2008, 05:36:56 am »

As always a breath of fresh air. You guys are like a nice well worn pair of trousers, fresh out of the dryer on a cold morning.

I'm glad to see eye to eye with so many of you. If we do ever meet in person, my friends call me Church, but you can call me whatever you like, just be sure to look at me when you do so I know you are talking to me.
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Roderick Hellyer
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« Reply #194 on: August 05, 2008, 12:03:47 pm »

Time Magazine ( August 11, 2008)

Page 57

Title: The return of the calling card - seems calling cards are back, from use at college reunions to being adopted by millennial jobsters who dont stay in one place for two long to Moms for there kids play dates.
Crane & Co said business for the cards have doubled in the last two years and there was even the use of "neo victorian " in the article describing the descriptor of one gentleman's card.

is it going mainstream ?  *chuckle* while we sit and type out our discussions it has been quietly invading mainstream society in way after way.  Gennie is out of the bottle... it wont be in the tearing down of power plants or a steam revolution that we will know its mainstream.  Its in the little things from manners to style to calling cards that we will know its mainstream.

if it does permeate that far to be in the mix of daily life those practices we once adopted to make ourselves different from the crowd will we sit back and smile like we do when a jobs well done or will we feel lost and discouraged, our lips pursed like the proverbial  petulant child  sad because everyone now looks and acts like us to some extent?  Sometimes the rebels have the hardest time not during the struggle but after they win,

Respectfully

R Helyer
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« Reply #195 on: August 05, 2008, 05:41:28 pm »

i've only skimmed through the number of pages, but it seems that steampunk has been mainstream for a while, but in an indirect way (many films in the past, and at present hellboy 2 has a strong steampunk aesthetic, but it seems only steampunks are able to identify this).  to say that something is Victorian, has brass goggles, and sprockets is steampunk, i believe lessens its true meaning.  we must identify the personal touch, the process in creation that is at the heart of steampunk.  while corporations may produce their lines of steampunk-esque tchochkies, i believe those who are true steampunk vs. the poseurs, will become quite clear.  those of us who make our own spats instead of buying them, those who create their own rayguns out of turn-of-the-century machine parts instead buying the weta versions (although i must say, they did a very fine job), or those who support the DIY merchants on websites like etsy.com that sell their own steampunk creations; this is something inherent to steampunk that will distinguish the craft and care from the cookie cutter and the plastic.
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« Reply #196 on: August 05, 2008, 10:57:42 pm »

Once again, this assumption that Steampunk revolves around the DIY Makers community is somewhat disheartening. To be fair that circle is the most vocal and easiest for the media to access, but their are so many other aspects to the genre that seem to get tossed by the wayside whenever Steampunk comes up in a discussion.

i've only skimmed through the number of pages, but it seems that steampunk has been mainstream for a while, but in an indirect way (many films in the past, and at present hellboy 2 has a strong steampunk aesthetic, but it seems only steampunks are able to identify this).  to say that something is Victorian, has brass goggles, and sprockets is steampunk, i believe lessens its true meaning.  we must identify the personal touch, the process in creation that is at the heart of steampunk.  while corporations may produce their lines of steampunk-esque tchochkies, i believe those who are true steampunk vs. the poseurs, will become quite clear.  those of us who make our own spats instead of buying them, those who create their own rayguns out of turn-of-the-century machine parts instead buying the weta versions (although i must say, they did a very fine job), or those who support the DIY merchants on websites like etsy.com that sell their own steampunk creations; this is something inherent to steampunk that will distinguish the craft and care from the cookie cutter and the plastic.
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« Reply #197 on: August 06, 2008, 01:47:15 am »

Once again, this assumption that Steampunk revolves around the DIY Makers community is somewhat disheartening. To be fair that circle is the most vocal and easiest for the media to access, but their are so many other aspects to the genre that seem to get tossed by the wayside whenever Steampunk comes up in a discussion.

Let's not ignore the exposure the mundane media has also been giving to the Neo-Vic fashionistas (cf. that New York Times article back in May) as Steampunk.

As for me, I have been enjoying the literary subgenre pretty much since it first appeared in the early 70s. I went off general science fiction/fantasy many years ago (except for Terry Pratchett, Jack Vance and Jasper Fforde), but still occasionally would pick up something we now identify as Steampunk - or close to it. I've been primarily a mystery reader for a long time now, and sometimes something "close" will appear in that genre, such as Michael Kurland's Professor Moriarty novels.

However, the mundane media by and large has no concept of science fiction beyond what's on TV or in the movies. And I don't mean the SciFi channel, either. Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings ... pretty well sums it up, I think.

Trying to explain this subgenre to someone who doesn't even grasp the genre it is sub to seems pretty hopeless. And very few journalists have the time to actually comprehend what they are writing about. Deadlines, don't ya know.

This being very nearly a completely textual genre (the counterexamples being few and to a large extent, I gather, not very good), TV "journalists" (who probably have even less of a clue to start with than their print brethren, and even tighter deadlines) must go for that which makes a visual statement: thus (a) fashionistas (or cosplayers if you prefer) and (b) makers.

Heck, I didn't even know it was called Steampunk or that there was a specific "fan-base" until I came across some of von Slatt's (et al, but von Slatt first) creations on the Makezine Blog. Even then it took me a couple of years before I looked into it more deeply, and had it not been for the makers, I still wouldn't know about it! Because, while I have (and always have had) a great affection for obsolete technology - e.g., steam trains, I have never had even the remotest interest in the Punk subculture, even when my son dyed his hair green a very long time ago.

I had actually read the first of all cyberpunk novels (The Shockwave Rider) when it first came out, and several lesser and mostly forgotten books in a similar vein. I think the last one I ever read was Islands in the Net, and by that time it was being called cyberpunk, though I couldn't quite figure out what that meant. At any rate, I lost interest after that.

So if I were presented with the term Steampunk out of the blue, I doubt I would have had any idea what it meant. I may have come across the term any number of times, but it just wouldn't register - some weird kind of rottenroll music, I'd figure, and promptly forget it (nothing personal, I just haven't had much interest in, or taste for, rock since the Beatles broke up).

I have to say that it's pretty much an exercise in futility to try to educate the media, so if you want to get the less-visual aspects of Steampunk more attention, it's going to require some careful and clever thought and action. And a bunch of work.
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« Reply #198 on: August 06, 2008, 09:42:39 am »

Once again, this assumption that Steampunk revolves around the DIY Makers community is somewhat disheartening. To be fair that circle is the most vocal and easiest for the media to access, but their are so many other aspects to the genre that seem to get tossed by the wayside whenever Steampunk comes up in a discussion.

i've only skimmed through the number of pages, but it seems that steampunk has been mainstream for a while, but in an indirect way (many films in the past, and at present hellboy 2 has a strong steampunk aesthetic, but it seems only steampunks are able to identify this).  to say that something is Victorian, has brass goggles, and sprockets is steampunk, i believe lessens its true meaning.  we must identify the personal touch, the process in creation that is at the heart of steampunk.  while corporations may produce their lines of steampunk-esque tchochkies, i believe those who are true steampunk vs. the poseurs, will become quite clear.  those of us who make our own spats instead of buying them, those who create their own rayguns out of turn-of-the-century machine parts instead buying the weta versions (although i must say, they did a very fine job), or those who support the DIY merchants on websites like etsy.com that sell their own steampunk creations; this is something inherent to steampunk that will distinguish the craft and care from the cookie cutter and the plastic.
i make no assumption that steampunk revolves around the "DIY Makers Community."  my post is merely a comparison/contrast of commercial consumerism vs.  grass roots; the steampunk movement and the group supporting it is natural and spontaneous, highlighting the differences between this and a movement that is orchestrated by traditional power structures (the mainstream).

the mainstream has never created anything on its own.  it has always started with one person, who decided to create something, ANYTHING, and that thing ended up meaning something to many, which then allowed for interpretation.  it is at that time that the mainstream steps in and decides to take what they think are the best elements and provide them to us in easily digestible pills (as if it were some sort of gift or great act of charity on their part).  while i hope that the steampunk/BDSM sub-subculture remains a tasty little secret, I'd hope that there was more of an interest in the literature than the fashion, but then we are talking about the mainstream, and most people just don't have the attention or patience for antiquated things like books, and would rather sport some of those cool new "steampunk sunglasses" they bought at the gas station.

any "movement" touches each person differently, however, the initial elements remain the same.  that steampunk is driven by the creative process; a technological renaissance exhibited in a marriage of philosophy and science, the act of wonder, exploration, discovery in both the physical and mental realms encourages and inspires all.  this movement touches that most abstract part of our humanity; our imagination.  this is why we say, steampunk is what YOU make of it.

unfortunately, in our creation, we ourselves give birth to the mainstream. it is an ever-changing, fickle bitch whose actions are supplanted in vanity, and whose sense of worth and strength of character question and destroy that which it is trying to present.
we are the MOB; we are the makers of the beast.

i hope this clears things for other readers.
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« Reply #199 on: August 06, 2008, 10:43:00 am »

What is mainstream?
Is the goth culture mainstream? I think most people would say yes. There are many dedicated Goth shops/club/bars, companies making money from Goth merchandise, Goth TV and Radio stations. Goth is a multi-million (if not billion) pound/dollar industry. It is tangible and well known. 

But is it mainstream?

Me I say No. Ford don't make Goth cars, male politicians/bank managers don't wear black eyeliner (not that I've see... or not in pubic). If you grabbed 1000 random people from across the country, how many would be Goth or even have Goth tendencies?

Some parts of the Goth culture have washed into the mainstream, I can buy black clothes with tribal marking from Asda/WalMart. But thats a trickle down from last years (or more) high fashon.

The Goth culture, like punk, rock, wiccan, grunge and others are a socially accepted niches. It is only natural that people will want to make a living from what they enjoy. And it is inevitable that large companies will see an opportunity to make money.

So will I be able to buy cog print clothes from Asda next year? Maybe. Will my cog print tshirt be Steampunk? Well thats entirely up to me. If I wear it, combined with whatever other clothes I feel make me steampunk, then it is. If I've just brought it because I like the colour, or because its cheap, then its not.

When I was "Goth", it was because I felt an affinity with the culture. From what I've read I've been lucky with the Goth friends I had, I was never an outsider even if my Goth clothes were some shredded old jeans, brown hiking boats and a faded black t-shirt. I'm not a great fan of Sister of Mercy and prefer the 92 remix of Temple of Love.

I was never considered a Poser, in fact that concept was never a part of my Goth experience. And at the moment there is no concept of a Steampunk Poser. An I hope it stays like that.
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