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Why is steampunk controversial?

If you have opinions about steampunk stuff--literature, art, jewelry, costuming, furniture, lifestyle--I would love it if you'd post comments.

I read BoingBoing, and they post fairly often with pictures of steampunk items that make me just drool my hydration out. Then in the comments on each post there will invariably be remarks from a bunch of jaded assholes citizens* who hatehatehate anything to do with steampunk. Why? What is to hate about it? Help me understand.

ETA: *I'm not calling you a jaded asshole citizen if you merely hate steampunk; I'm calling you one if you act like one.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 23rd, 2008 03:23 pm (UTC)
I tend to think that people who dislike steampunk are mostly people who are threatened by nonconformity. I personally love steampunk and always have, but then I also love nonconformity and uniqueness.
Jul. 23rd, 2008 03:49 pm (UTC)
Good point! It may be that some of the reaction against it comes from people feeling like it's too different.

One thing that's interesting to me about subcultures is that it's a small group of people all conforming together in anti-conformity to the larger group. I think people really enjoy that us-against-them feeling, on either side of the majority/minority line, but for different reasons. The majority likes being normal, and therefore correct. The minority prefers being different, and therefore innovative. And subcultures tend to splinter because the people who are drawn to being non-conformist eventually rebel against the established subculture.
Jul. 23rd, 2008 04:13 pm (UTC)
The anti-steampunk thing really strikes me as nothing more than a bunch of people who think they're way too cool to be doing what's cool. These are the same dudes who were hating on the last big thing, and the last one before that. And they'll continue to hate on the next big thing, and the one after that...
Jul. 23rd, 2008 04:32 pm (UTC)
Those are the citizens I'm talking about. *g*
Jul. 23rd, 2008 04:16 pm (UTC)
I have heard some interesting critiques of steampunk as an inherently classist ethic, but I doubt that this is the hostility you are noticing.
Jul. 23rd, 2008 04:31 pm (UTC)
I don't see it as an ethic at all--a philosophy, or set of moral principles--but I'm sure many do, and maybe that's part of the problem. I see it as an aesthetic. Who gets to define it, if it is an ethic? Or an aesthetic, for that matter?
Jul. 23rd, 2008 04:40 pm (UTC)
Yeah, aesthetic is probably a better word choice, I wasn't really thinking about it when I typed it! I think it's adorable and critiquing it for being classist is just being cranky, but whatever!
Jul. 23rd, 2008 04:43 pm (UTC)
There's the real problem! People are too cranky! Or they take themselves too seriously, but maybe that's a subset of cranky.
Jul. 23rd, 2008 05:34 pm (UTC)
I've been wondering the same thing myself, so I'm glad you mentioned it.

Also, a friend and I are trying to figure out why people hate Ayn Rand. Could be 2 sides of the same coin.
Jul. 24th, 2008 11:57 am (UTC)
I haven't read Ayn Rand's stuff, but some of the authors at Fourth Street Fantasy were talking about her overt message-sending. It sounded like they thought her way of writing propaganda was clumsy; there was an obvious message she wanted people to take from her writing, for their improvement. This is hearsay, but I've gleaned it from good sources.

Outside of writing technique, I think lots of people just don't like her message. That's all I know! From all that I've heard about it, I've developed an aversion to the idea of reading The Fountainhead, but I probably should someday.
Jul. 25th, 2008 07:34 am (UTC)
My wife is shopping for a spinning wheel...
I just wanted to say that I decided the other day that my wife needs a steampunk spinning wheel.

Wouldn't that be AWESOME?!?!
Jul. 25th, 2008 10:12 am (UTC)
Re: My wife is shopping for a spinning wheel...
That *would* be awesome! And she could dress up in edgy neo-Victoriana gear to use it, which would be HAWT. :)
Jul. 26th, 2008 10:43 pm (UTC)
OK, what's steampunk? (Or at least your definition of steampunk, since I could probably google it and find out what someone else says about it.)

Yes, I know, I'm hopelessly lame.
Jul. 27th, 2008 09:33 pm (UTC)
Steampunk started out as a word for a subgenre of science fiction or fantasy that's set in a world where steam power is used, usually in the Victorian period if the story is on Earth. Technology is usually shifted from what we really had in that time, toward more fantastical things like time machines that work but use steam power, for example, or dirigibles. It could also refer to alternate history stories where workable analog computers were developed earlier in history than we had computers, or any steam-powered technology took over and made the modern world turn out to be different from what it is now. There's more to it, but that's a quick explanation of where the term came from.

The current subculture of steampunk fashion developed out of the fiction, leading to people wearing neo-Victoriana clothing that can be very dressy and proper, with corsets, hats, and bustles for women and elegant jackets and trousers for men, or people dress like Victorian adventurers. Usually accessories like goggles, monocles, pocket watches and chokers are involved. It can also be crossed with other subculture style, and made more goth or lolita, depending how people decide to wear it. Here's a page with a few examples that I like.

There are some extremely beautiful and expensive mods of current technology and furntiture--computers, laptops, desks, and more. Here's a picture of a gorgeous desktop computer mod.
Jul. 28th, 2008 01:48 am (UTC)
That is so cool! It definitely appeals to the Victorian in me (believe it or not, I used to collect Victoriana - tea things especially, and even made a set of lace-up corsets and knickers for an SCA event - anachronism, for sure!). Thanks for taking the time to enlighten me!
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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