Criticism/Theory

It has been shown throughout this website that the Steampunk culture is full of ambiguity and subjectivity. Because of this, just as any other cultural movement, Steampunk has its critics.  Defining a sub-culture that advocates a "Do-It-Yourself-in-your-own-way mentality" is not easy. And because of this, Steampunk is oftentimes misunderstood and even taken advantage of. Much of the criticism of Steampunk condemns (and attempts to reverse) the cultural confines the movement has since in the past, in both literature and culture. They argue that Steampunk does not have to take place in a Caucasian, European setting. The following criticism and theory on Steampunk provide an interesting perspective on the culture's present and future.



Steampunk Culture Criticism

Steampunk seems suburban in its attitude: nostalgic for an imagined, non-existent past, politically quietist, and culturally insular hidden behind cul-de-sacs of carefully styled anachronisms that let in no chaos or ferment

"What's Wrong With Steampunk?" - Lauren Davis


So instead of alt/history books with an almost scientific rigor towards machines that could have been, we've got fantasy novels in Victorian garb.

"The Future of Steampunk" - Paul Jessup

 

It's just that there's too damn much of it about right now, and furthermore, it's in danger of vanishing up its own arse due to second artist effect ... steampunk is no more harmful than a fad for Che Guevara tee shirts, or burkas, or swastikas; just another fashion trend riffing thoughtlessly off stuff that went away for a reason ... Life was mostly unpleasant, brutish, and short; the legal status of women in the UK or US was lower than it is in Iran today: politics was by any modern standard horribly corrupt and dominated by authoritarian psychopaths and inbred hereditary aristocrats: it was a priest-ridden era that had barely climbed out of the age of witch-burning, and bigotry and discrimination were ever popular sports: for most of the population starvation was an ever-present threat.

"The Hard Edge of Empire" - Charlie Stross


the period that steampunk holds up so dear is the same period that perfected genocide, racism, wholesale destruction of Africa, manifest destiny, and so on and so forth ... steampunk is more of an aesthetic rejection of modern aesthetics, it’s primarily a manufacturing/cultural manifestation, as evidenced, I think, by the fact that the bulk of steampunk’s appeal is in the objects (the movies, bulk produced mass consumer objects, have failed to do as well) and the style, which have penetrated further out than the literature objects.

"Steampunk and Pastoralism" - Tobias Buckell


The "Punk" in Steampunk

“Why Steam Needs Punk”- A. E. Flint (in response to “Seven Steampunk Fallacies”)

“There is Totally Punk In Steampunk” – Jaymee Goh

"Steam (Punk)?"- Mark Hodder

"Steampunk Abstractions: On Commodification" - Jaymee Goh

"Towards a Steampunk Without Steam" - Amal El-Mohtat

“Steampunk Storytelling in the Transmedia Frontier” – Andrew Fogel


Interesting Links:
An interesting video satirizing popular misinterpretation of steampunk.

 "Steampunk as an Aesthetic" - Steampunk Scholar blog


Seven Steampunk Fallacies - Diana Vick

  1. Steampunk is anything you want it to be.
  2. Steampunk must "have" punk it.
  3. Victorian re-creation is all you need.
  4. You must make it all yourself.
  5. Your gear has to work.
  6. If it isn’t metal, it’s crap.
  7. You can’t have steampunk without goggles.
Bonus: Steampunk takes itself very seriously.

(Note: This is one opinion.