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Author Topic: what to call steampunk when talking to punk punks?  (Read 5226 times)
Adml. Etherington
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« on: March 06, 2007, 08:26:56 pm »

I have a problem discussing steampunk with several of my friends. Some of them are just straight up punk, and I went through a phase of that a few years back. Now, when I try to discuss steampunk, my lady and several of my friends get hung up on the "-punk" part, and can't let that go enough to properly discuss the "steam-" part of it (they don't get how mohawks and piercings go with Vickie garb, etc...).

So with them I just shorten it to "Steam" and things work better. Anybody else have this problem?
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« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2007, 09:31:30 pm »

Yes, though I've had more of a problem with those who aren't punk--my parents, for instance.  I mean, they hear "punk" and they're immediately thinking odd hair and piercings...  Now to many of us, Steampunk does involve all that--and that's fantastic.  For those of us who aren't into that bit, however, the word can be a cause of misinterpretation.  There are all those other words (steampulp, weird west, etc), though I think even fewer people would know what you were talking about then Smiley 

Personally, I usually only have to explain it once (using the old "like Wild Wild West; but good" explanation).  Of course I have no idea what they're thinking when I say it again, but I figure they'll catch on after a while.  For instance, if I keep talking about "my friend George who I met on the train in Chicago", you're not going to know to whom I'm referring when I finally call him just "George".  If, however, I tell you the story of meeting him once and simply call him "George" from then on, you'll think "wait, who? Oh right, the train" the first couple times, then remember it instantly from then on.  Sort of an immersion thing, I guess...

PS:  I'm pretty sure my dad still thinks "witches" whenever I mention Wikipedia (which i pronounce Wick-uh-pedia)...
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« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2007, 09:43:16 pm »

Mom wrinkled her nose at me when I told her I wrote for Steampunk Magazine, but when I said it was about a Victorian sci-fi literary movement, she became interested, because she's a librarian. Sometimes if we refer to it with examples from mainstream media (like Wild Wild West or Jules Verne's books), and we refer to mediums like television and novels (easily palatable for the older folk), they 'get it'. Sort of like explaining goth by making reference to things like The Addams Family. It's not 100% straight-up subcultural struth, but it makes the idea easier to swallow.

As for talking to traditional punks about steampunk, I haven't had the pleasure yet, but I look forward to it!
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OHebel Wring
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« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2007, 09:48:06 pm »

That's the way I explain it.  I don't even say the word "steampunk", but use "victorian science fiction" instead.


"ya know, like Jules Vern and H.G. Wells"

usually I am written off as a geek right there and there are no more questions, but if you have to get into it.


"ok ok ok , like... imagine League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.... ok?  Now take out everything bad about it."
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Adml. Etherington
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« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2007, 10:03:19 pm »

I must say, it makes me sad to see how many of the examples we use are along the lines of "imagine X, if it didn't suck"

They are good suggestions, nonetheless. Wink
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« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2007, 10:09:03 pm »

Quote
they don't get how mohawks and piercings go with Vickie garb, etc.

The fact that we have to explain things this way shows we're anti-establishment.  Many punks would agree that even the punk movement has become "establishement".  We're sort of an answer to that.  True punk is giving the finger to the man and doing what you feel is right.  That's what we do.  That's why it's punk.
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OHebel Wring
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« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2007, 10:11:29 pm »

...the alternative to the alternative
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« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2007, 10:17:22 pm »

For me, It was a long battle for make my parents understand the concept. And so on for every new persons I talk about. Alas, the old ''wild wild west'' or even '' league of extraordinary'' don't work for me anymore. In fact, the best moment to teach someone the definitions of steampunk it's when you see a movie of this genre with them. And for the '' what the punk about ?''  question, by luck it was only asked once and what a battle for explaining the definitions of cyberpunk for better explain the concept of steampunk.
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OHebel Wring
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« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2007, 10:19:48 pm »

for the ol' parents, just explain to them the Jules Vern and H.G. Wells thing.  They will love your inquisitive mind.
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fmra
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« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2007, 11:13:04 pm »

I've never had a problem with my parents.  I told them "Victorian" and they liked it.  My mom thinks I look great in a vest in top hat and I've gotten my dad into DIY Victorian tech projects.  He actually built a solar water heater for his house.
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« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2007, 11:18:55 pm »

steampunk solar power.... very interesting...
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fmra
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« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2007, 11:27:11 pm »

they were all the rage in southern california before the dastardly Gas Company arrived and destroyed the hopes of millions.
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Josh of Vernian Process
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« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2007, 11:40:12 pm »

I never had any issues with my parents, because my dad raised me on his favorite TV show The Wild Wild West, and when I was about 13 I religiouslyw atched Brisco County Jr. every friday night, so my mom knew my interests. I also watched Tale Spin every day after school (even reruns), which is more pulp than Steampunk, but has similar themes.

As far as random peole that ask me about Steampunk (usually due to me playing my music for them). I do what Mr. Wring does, I just say imagine Sci-Fi, but in the late 1800's, like Jules Verne. Never had anyone need any further explanation than that. But most of the people I associate with are pretty intelligent.
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« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2007, 11:40:26 pm »

The Carpet baggers!! I shall challenge them to a duel! Mr. FMRA, please charge my weapon.
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« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2007, 01:16:42 pm »

Most of my friends are fairly well-read, so it's never been an issue. Indeed, the first time I think the word "Steampunk" was used as a descriptor for myself was when a punk friend of mine said "Alexander, you're the only person I know who actually pulls off steampunk". My reply, of course, was that I was the only person he knew who tried, but I appreciated the sentiment nonetheless.

I try to avoid speaking with people I don't already know, and certainly with people I haven't been formally introduced to, but when the subject comes up, the conversation typically goes something like this:

Random stranger: Are you in a play?
Me: No.
R.S.: Why are you dressed like that?
Me: Why are you dressed like that?
R.S.: (sputtering) I, uh, well, I like it...
Me: Very good.

Most of the people to whom it needs explaining, in my experience anyway, aren't worth the effort, and wouldn't understand if they were. My parents got over me dressing funny when I was doing the hardcore rivethead thing in high school. I explained that to them something like this:

Me: It's kind of like goth - you know goth?
Them: Not really...
Me: I hate everyone and won't listen to any music that doesn't sound like a car accident in a disco.
Them: Why?
Me: You're consumer whores. Stop talking

Regards,
Alexander
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« Reply #15 on: March 07, 2007, 01:26:25 pm »

Me: You're consumer whores. Stop talking

Give that man a cigar.

I haven't had to explain steampunk to a punk yet, but explaining it to other people has required a long rambling conversation with me referencing everying SP thing I can think of until I hit upon something they recognise. To be honest, though, I think people who know me are so used to rambling pointless conversations on my part that they tend to drift out whenever I start explaining something, and then fade back in at the end in order to nod politely. I actually find this is at least as good as actually getting them to understand the concept, because it means they never, ever question me about it again.

If you make something suitably complex, people will tend not to bring it up again for fear of looking foolish when they admit they didn't understand a word.
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fmra
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« Reply #16 on: March 07, 2007, 03:51:02 pm »

R.S.: Why are you dressed like that?
Me: Why are you dressed like that?
R.S.: (sputtering) I, uh, well, I like it...
Me: Very good.

LOL, that reminds of the drunk woman at the Edison.  That was good.
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phineas sheridan
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« Reply #17 on: March 07, 2007, 04:10:16 pm »

I haven't had to explain steampunk to a punk yet, but explaining it to other people has required a long rambling conversation with me referencing everying SP thing I can think of until I hit upon something they recognise. To be honest, though, I think people who know me are so used to rambling pointless conversations on my part that they tend to drift out whenever I start explaining something, and then fade back in at the end in order to nod politely. I actually find this is at least as good as actually getting them to understand the concept, because it means they never, ever question me about it again.

If you make something suitably complex, people will tend not to bring it up again for fear of looking foolish when they admit they didn't understand a word.

wow, this is exactly what happens to me.

but......i haven't really had to explain steampunk to unenlightened people yet
i will post my horror story when it happens, for hilarity will ensue.


d
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« Reply #18 on: March 07, 2007, 05:07:34 pm »

In any imaginary discourse with a Punk, I can see the following...

Hot Topic: So, what's so Punk about Steampunk?
Me: Nothing whatever.
HT: Then why do you call it SteamPUNK?
Me: The name started as a joke on Cyberpunk. If you want to know why they use the term Punk, you'll have to talk to them.
HT: Okay, so what IS Steampunk then?
Me: Victorian Science Fiction, Jules Verne/H.G. Wells sort of stuff.
HT: Oh, like Wild Wild West/League of Extraordinary Gentlemen/Steamboy?
Me: Sure.

 
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« Reply #19 on: March 07, 2007, 09:19:16 pm »

I never had any issues with my parents, because my dad raised me on his favorite TV show The Wild Wild West, and when I was about 13 I religiouslyw atched Brisco County Jr. every friday night, so my mom knew my interests. I also watched Tale Spin every day after school (even reruns), which is more pulp than Steampunk, but has similar themes.

Good Lord!  You just summed up my childhood television viewing habits....  This whole thing required a little explaining to my father (whom I work for, so I see him everyday that he decides to come in...), but when I told my wife I was constructing a walking stick, she just wondered why I was painting it black, instead of white.  I told her perhaps the second unit could be white...  But my parents went through the gothy dark music thing with both myself and my sister (she stole all of my cool accessories and my younger friends too,), so this isn't really surprising to them.
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« Reply #20 on: March 07, 2007, 11:09:44 pm »

In answer to the initial question... Why not just refer your friends to this forum?  Wink
Seriously, steampunk encompasses so many different things to different folks... that would be my prefered method, allowing them to see that my subjective definition, is just that, and one of many.
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« Reply #21 on: March 08, 2007, 12:38:12 am »

I use the word Neo-Victorianism to explain it to my parents.
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« Reply #22 on: March 08, 2007, 12:51:34 am »

I use the word Neo-Victorianism to explain it to my parents.

you know, this is an interesting subject, because with all the interesting objects of innovation, the keen aesthetics, and the overall flair in "Steampunk" one would think it would have a better name. I have to admit, I really don't like the name. Steam by itself is not that interesting.

I read a reference to Retro-Futurism someplace , and I liked it a LOT more. I think I will be going with that. Also it is broader, and I am not really sure I am comfortable with constraints as a creative person. I need a little elbow room, and not to brag but I don't fit comfortably in any single genre or aesthetic but my own.

for now, I can see myself being fairly comfortable with retro-futurism, and it wouldn't surprise me if others felt the same.
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Adml. Etherington
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« Reply #23 on: March 08, 2007, 12:56:00 am »

I like that one... Retro-futurism.
I should think that may fly as more self-explanatory than steampunk in some situations.

Maybe I'll start calling myself a steampunk/neo-victorian retro-futurist. That should be enough that people who don't immediately understand will be afraid of it too much to ask for elaboration.
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« Reply #24 on: March 08, 2007, 12:57:20 am »

Why don't you guys just call yourselves "people" that like "(insert various genres of media here)".

Don't label yourself as a steam/dieselpunk, retro-futurist, etc. You are all just human beings (I think) that like different things.
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