I promised a post today, and by gum, I shall deliver a post.
By gum. Really? Meh, why not.
So, yesterday afternoon I tuned into Mr Jupitus in the Age of Steampunkon Radio 4. I did this not only out of my natural interest and predeliction for all things steampunk, but because I happen to be passing acquaintances with Phill Jupitus (clang! went the name-drop) and I didn’t know he shared my interest.
And, as I tend to do when viewing anything that is viewing steampunk, I cringed a little.
Don’t get me wrong, I thought it was an excellent radio show. Phill looked largely at the Maker movement and the cosplay crowd, but went beyond that to look at the punk and radical credentials of steampunk, plus lots of excerpts of interviews with people far deeper into the community than I am. It didn’t really look at the definition of steampunk beyond the imitation/evocation of the Victorian era, but that’s forgivable since it was only a thirty minute show. I heartily recommend you give it a listen while its on iPlayer.
No, I cringed because the whole thing was just a bit… twee.
Which, I guess, it is. We are, in effect, playing dress up in neo-Victorian and playing like its the far future imagined by the distant past. For many people it is much more than that, a political and social philosophy which espouses the reuse of materials, respect for craftsmanship, chivalry, and basic manners (flavoured with Victorian mannerisms), but essentially that’s what we are doing. This is leaving aside the literary and other media works which subscribe to the steampunk aesthetic, which the radio show didn’t really look at aside from an interview with a chap from The Men Who Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing. Maybe I’m wrong to distinguish the writing and other arty works from the cosplay movement, but I am making the distinction. That might be the topic of another post.
I shouldn’t cringe, but I do. The whole thing, when looked at objectively, is a wee bit funny. I guess most subcultures are, if taken out of context. It’s the same self-awareness that makes us (or me, anyway) embarrassed when we’re caught doing something that we know is perfectly okay to do but is nonetheless a little bit strange.
I’m going to stop there, because frankly this whole post is a little absurd; why on earth am I embarrassed by the non-judgemental examination of a subculture I don’t even really belong to? I dunno, but it does make my squirm.
So, sorry about this word-ramble for today. I promise more substantive blogs, but not today!
Peace out, ladies and gents o/