Welcome back for Part Five of Interview #100. Here is the first half of the answers to the third question.
Read Part One here. Current Involvement, Part one
Read Part Two here. Current Involvement, Part two
Read Part Three here. Opportunities, part one
Read Part Four here. Opportunities, part two
What are some changes you’ve seen in the expressions and use of steampunk within the community and in mainstream culture?
Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine: Since the launch of our series, we have noticed more steampunk festivals, steampunk-themed bars and restaurants, and more appearances of steampunk in various media like graphic novels and video games. The question of “What is steampunk?” is being asked less and less from us, thanks to Michael’s offering a steampunk line, reality game shows like Steampunk’d, and more interest in the genre kicked up by special events like our own Steampunk Tea Event in Shepherdstown, WV.
Oh yes, and teapot races. They are happening everywhere!
Jaymee Goh: I can’t say much about this because I’ve actually not been keeping up! =( It’s one of those sad things about academia… I don’t get to go to as many steampunk conventions as I used to, and much of what I see in my little corner of the Internet is so much the same as what it used to be that I lose interest very quickly.
In mainstream culture, though, there is now a settling of the aesthetic into just another style that one can indulge in. It got normalized fairly quickly. There is a bit more awareness of how Victorian-centric it can get once in a while, but that was always a criticism of the aesthetic from the start, so that’s not new either.
Jean-Christophe Valtat: I might be wrong on this, but , over the last few years, I have seen the movement veering away from its original literary source to become more of a life style. The Maker movement is a case in point, for instance. I also suspect the audience became more and more Y.A- oriented, and accordingly a bit standardized, which is not good news for my work. That said, all Young Adults will eventually get older ! But I also think inroads have been made, like a certain post-colonial turn, for instance, which is totally compatible with steampunk.
Nick Valentino: Everyone is pushing the envelope and it’s wonderful. People all around the country are constantly trying new things with steampunk. It stretches from every aspect of the culture. From costuming, to creation, writing, movies, art, photography, jewelry…. this could go on and on. There is no aspect of steampunk that isn’t constantly being improved upon, worked on, played with and added to with increasing creativity and passion. We’ve gone from the guy with the amazing looking mechanical arm to fully mobile steampunk wheelchairs, Automated rolling steampunk fortune tellers, and actual steampunked robots that serve beverages. It’s all so incredible, and is a testament to people’s ingenuity, creativity and passion to make something unique. Like any technology, even steampunk is becoming more complex as people create things that have never been done before.Everything has become more intricate, and more detailed than ever before. I imagine this will go on, and we will continue to see increasingly amazing things.
As media goes, a big change was the television show, Steampunk’d. It was the first time that Steampunk fully took center stage on a mainstream show. It’s really the first time that the culture has not been a plot device to Sean Connery, or Will Smith. The show, while only lasting one season, featured the makers, judges and the art of Steampunk, introducing countless people to the culture on an equal platform to any other “reality” show. So, since Steampunk was featured, it was put on an equal platform with surviving, modeling, clothing designing… insert any other theme of a reality show.
Evan Butterfield: Steampunk is more and more rapidly becoming mainstream, which is of course aesthetically appealing on the one hand, and a little disappointing on the other: with any mass popularization of a once-subculture, there’s a lot of charm and idiosyncracy that gets sort of buffed over along the way to make it a little more accessible, a little more family-friendly, a little less rough-edged and quirky. Once your subculture has been the subject of a reality competition, you’re not a subculture anymore. I see a lot of steampunk aesthetics in Cirque shows and sprinkled around TV–from the obvious suspects like the lamented Penny Dreadful to little steampunky touches in Gotham, and a lot in anime.
James Ng: I’ve seen steampunk being taken into the mainstream more often now. But I feel it is very obvious when the producer is an actual fan of the genre, or just trying to brand it as a “weird fad” to make money. And the reception of these shows really reflect the motivation. Steampunk is very centered around the creator, many things are “do it yourself” or “built it yourself” theme to it. When a show does not credit the usage of artwork from creators of the genre they are trying to exploit, it is bound to fail. However, I’ve seen more and more projects spring up on Kickstarter that is steampunk theme, and actually there are many major production that uses alot of elements of Steampunk, so I think we are on a good track.
Join us tomorrow for the second half of answers to this question in Part Six of Interview #100!
Thanks to everyone who has participated:
Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine, read the first interview here.
Evan Butterfield, read the first interview here.
Gail Carriger, read the first interview here.
Jaymee Goh, read the first interview here.
James Ng, read the first interview here.
Mike Perschon, read the first interview here.
Diana Pho, read the first interview here.
Richard Preston, read the first interview here.
Lev AC Rosen, read the first interview here.
Arthur Slade, read the first interview here.
Nick Valentino, read the first interview here.
Jean-Christophe Valtat, read the first interview here.
Thanks for all of your support and encouragement!