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Gears to replace flannel on the teenagers of America
January 23, 2013 5:47 PM   Subscribe

Is Steampunk The Next Big Fashion Trend? Time Magazine reports on this new sensation.
posted by mediocre (170 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Good. Less demand means the flannel prices will fall and I won't be looking at $60 for a flannel shirt that is going to last more than a year or three. I'll alert the bears, and there will be much rejoicing.
posted by hippybear at 5:48 PM on January 23, 2013 [32 favorites]


To those curious, yes, it was the tasteless joke about Weird Al's parents that got the previous posting I made of this deleted. It was an attempted joke at reporting old news, based in part on a minor Fark meme from years back.. so my attempt to make a joke about being irrelevantly old was too old to be recognized as irrelevantly old. Apologies.
posted by mediocre at 5:49 PM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


When a trend is reported in Time Magazine, it's definitely over. By the way, long-time Haight Street shop Distractions changed their stock a couple years back from hippie gear to Steampunk.
posted by larrybob at 5:54 PM on January 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


IBM predicts Steampunk as the next hip thing this year.
posted by Artw at 5:56 PM on January 23, 2013


Invest in brass futures!
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:57 PM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


If there's one things nerds can't stand, it's people messing with Weird Al.

Steampunk is okay in videogames and movies, but as a lifestyle it's just lame. Especially since there's no 'punk' in it - its goths idolizing fake aristocrats. Still, at least it goes for a Victorian idea of PROGRESS!, socially regressive as it may be. People walking around Sydney in top hats and gears are absurd, though.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:58 PM on January 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Still, at least it goes for a Victorian idea of PROGRESS!, socially regressive as it may be.

It's about rich white people in blimps and nostalgia for a past when men were real men, women were real women, and the filthy minorities and colonials knew their place.
posted by Sangermaine at 6:00 PM on January 23, 2013 [12 favorites]


This makes me happy.


I can't help it, I love gears.
posted by blurker at 6:00 PM on January 23, 2013


Steampunk is okay in videogames and movies, but as a lifestyle it's just lame.

Also weird ornamental watches which are totally awesome.
posted by juv3nal at 6:01 PM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


My first thought when I saw the picture was "the Wired 'Zippies' issue!". That was May '94. Is 18 years 8 months really enough for a cultural forgetting of this magnitude?
posted by straw at 6:02 PM on January 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I look forward to the seapunk article in 2022.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:03 PM on January 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


I swear we talked about this already.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:05 PM on January 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Pet Rocks -- Fad or Revolution?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:06 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oddly enough, this makes sense to me.

SteamPunk as a style, while not my personal cup of tea, has a lot of potential appeal to a lot of demographics.

Hipsters yearning for the earnestness of yesteryear, yuppies looking for a certain kind of materialism (god knows there's a certain offshoot of steampunk that runs expensive), hippies looking for a kind of back to earth/tangible goods arts and crafts thing.

This is all to say that I find it entirely unsurprising that, in the near future, someone will pour money into mass producing and marketing the stuff.
posted by sendai sleep master at 6:07 PM on January 23, 2013


Godammnit, I fell through that time portal back to 2009 again.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:07 PM on January 23, 2013 [14 favorites]


Steampunk is when their servers are down and I can't access my games.
posted by srboisvert at 6:07 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Time plainly sees its mission as one of standing athwart history yelling "fruit pectin!"
posted by mph at 6:07 PM on January 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


What's the name for the rule where when Time Magazine predicts something as the next big fashion trend everyone has to stop talking about it and the concept is abandoned entirely? Godwin's Second Law?

Anyway, thanks Time! I can't think of a more deserving target.
posted by chrchr at 6:08 PM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


No need to get so worked up about it; nobody is seriously trying to bring back colonialism. Steampunk is just a new outlet for the Goth philosophy that all clothing is costume, so we might as well have fun with it. Clockwork gears replace the bats, mythical airships replace the mythical vampires, and the color palette expands from black and red to brown and red. Other than that, it's the same people doing the same things, and can you maybe not get so Metafilter liberal guilt about everything please?
posted by Mars Saxman at 6:08 PM on January 23, 2013 [46 favorites]


Is this a double of a deleted post or have I become unstuck in time?
posted by elizardbits at 6:09 PM on January 23, 2013


I swear we talked about this already

We did, it was deleted.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:09 PM on January 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Steampunk and Time Magazine ... so 2000-and-late.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:10 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I swear we talked about this already.

Yep. It was deleted because, for some reason, titles matter now. Grumble, grumble.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:12 PM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ill just stand here waiting for the 40s to come back around so my hair can be in style again.
posted by The Whelk at 6:12 PM on January 23, 2013


DID SOMEBODY SAY STEAMPUNK
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:12 PM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I look forward to the seapunk article in 2022.

I refuse to believe that's real and not an NYT/HRO shared joke.

The next big thing will be Tom Waits/Johnny Hobo/Mr Shivers style hobopunk.

Too bad Paul Di Flippo's Biopunk never took off.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:12 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


step 1. put them into a wood chipper
step 2. whatever
posted by boo_radley at 6:12 PM on January 23, 2013


So when we declared steampunk dead when the NYT ran their piece extolling it, we had only wounded it?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 6:12 PM on January 23, 2013


And by ”gears” we mean lock-washers.
posted by anonymisc at 6:13 PM on January 23, 2013


the gears and top hats, not the people, just to clarify.
posted by boo_radley at 6:14 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


( stares at contents of closet for a good 30 mins)


...i could call it ...Tweedcore.
posted by The Whelk at 6:14 PM on January 23, 2013 [23 favorites]


I don't like your tweed, sir.
posted by unliteral at 6:16 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Take your tweeds to Twidder.
posted by hippybear at 6:17 PM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Watson is fucking with IBM again.
posted by ryoshu at 6:18 PM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes yes it is entirely because I secretly wish to crush the worthless colonials under the heel of my iron boot and not at all because I happen to find the particular vintage aesthetic visually pleasing.

You have found me out.
posted by kyrademon at 6:26 PM on January 23, 2013 [11 favorites]


We almost had a steampunk cupcake place open up in town. There was no good that could come of that.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:26 PM on January 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


IBM predicts that during the next two years, “steampunk will shift from low-production, high-cost ‘craft’ manufacturing to mass production,”

2013: The Year of Steampunk

2013, 2014.. The Year of Linux on the Desktop
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:28 PM on January 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


But Goths discovered brown years ago.
posted by Foosnark at 6:31 PM on January 23, 2013


I'm not SteamPunk. I'm SteamNewWave. A totally different SteamHead; totally.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:33 PM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


As always, I'll have the distinct pleasure of not knowing this even happened.
posted by wallabear at 6:35 PM on January 23, 2013


We almost had a steampunk cupcake place open up in town. There was no good that could come of that.

No, it lets us get the Bush-Era retro out of our system preemptively. This allows everyone to move out of both Portlands with a minimum of fuss. The new urban mecca for the tragically hip is apparently Springfield, Massachusetts, where they will be doing the 20's all over again, only this time with computers and fetishwear.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:36 PM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Steampunk: rebecoming the style trend that we never weren't.
posted by GuyZero at 6:38 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, this does suggest a way that Google Glass might actually get through those first awkward years: by hiding behind brass goggles.
posted by gurple at 6:39 PM on January 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that by the time a septuagenarian has been shopping online for your steampunk gift, the trend is thoroughly passe! (Hello, 2011)
posted by Anitanola at 6:39 PM on January 23, 2013


I like steampunk. It's pretty. And the seams tend to be finished. I'm so tired of rips and loose seams.
posted by Peach at 6:40 PM on January 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


You can't just call your [fashion "Steampunk"]!

[Steampunk] isn't a thing. It's a type of thing!

posted by lazaruslong at 6:42 PM on January 23, 2013


Yes yes it is entirely because I secretly wish to crush the worthless colonials under the heel of my iron boot and not at all because I happen to find the particular vintage aesthetic visually pleasing.

Nobody is calling you racist or colonialist, dude, but the fact is that there is a reason that the Victorian style became famous and even ubiquitous, and it didn't have a damn thing to do with aesthetics. People were not wearing head to toe wool suits in the Subcontinent because it looks dapper, and they sure as hell were not because it was climate appropriate.

No part of Victorian culture can be separated from Empire. I mean, I don't think anyone is saying Steampunk is Colonial-Themed-Wedding-With-Black-Waitstaff levels of tone deaf, but come on.
posted by absalom at 6:51 PM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


That's silly. You just do what the Victorians did and ignore the natives, and go on doing what you do.
posted by Mezentian at 6:59 PM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's about rich white people in blimps and nostalgia for a past when men were real men, women were real women, and the filthy minorities and colonials knew their place.

What a bizarre comment. Steampunk is about none of those things.

No part of Victorian culture can be separated from Empire.

Of course it can; but more important, Steampunk didndidn't actually happen. It's not part of Victorian culture, it's part of contemporary culture.
posted by spaltavian at 7:06 PM on January 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


I dunno, I think it says something about sci-fi/fantasy fans. Steampunk came from cyberpunk, and the 'punk' from that came from sympathy with the downtrodden, the people left behind by technology. But geeks see ourselves as the people who rule with technology - I took a class on Vicotorian literature, and I was swooning over descriptions of the Crystal Palace and stuff. So we go for the upper-class trappings.

There are a few actual punks who look steampunk. Mostly Franz Nicolay and the guys in Gogol Bordello.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 7:07 PM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]



That's silly. You just do what the Victorians did and ignore the natives, and go on doing what you do.
posted by Mezentian at 6:59 PM on January 23 [2 favorites +] [!]


Wait wait wait. Then who is going to wade through mercury to process my silver?
posted by Stagger Lee at 7:08 PM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I dunno, I think it says something about sci-fi/fantasy fans. Steampunk came from cyberpunk, and the 'punk' from that came from sympathy with the downtrodden, the people left behind by technology. But geeks see ourselves as the people who rule with technology - I took a class on Vicotorian literature, and I was swooning over descriptions of the Crystal Palace and stuff. So we go for the upper-class trappings.

There are a few actual punks who look steampunk. Mostly Franz Nicolay and the guys in Gogol Bordello.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 7:07 PM on January 23 [+] [!]


The classics were either very tongue in cheek or had a bit of an eye for history and philosophy. The wink to cyberpunk might never have happened if Gibson hadn't helped popularize the stuff.
A lot of the new stuff does seem to be about aesthetic. So it goes.

When it's being done thoughtfully, it's science fiction as it would have been penned by Victorians. When it misses the mark, it's reads more like alternate histories written by 21st century geeks that know nothing about the period they're writing in. I guess my biggest concern is that it feels lazy; go research the period you're writing in before you publish.

It's not a big deal though. There are lots of bad books, and some of them are steam punk. Meantime, there are enough good books to keep me happy. And if kids want to wear cogs, kids can wear cogs, I will remain hopelessly uncool, as my age dictates that I must. ;)
posted by Stagger Lee at 7:13 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


And yet guess what book we published has been FLYING off the shelves (zeppelin not required)? Yup: this one. To customers all over the world, too -- I have lost track of how many countries we've shipped to, so if nothing else it's continuing to build up steam [oh god I really just said that, didn't I?] internationally.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:14 PM on January 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


2013, 2014.. The Year of Linux on the Desktop
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:28 PM


This is a flannel joke right?
posted by Stagger Lee at 7:22 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


TOO FUTURE
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 7:24 PM on January 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


No need to get so worked up about it.....Steampunk is just a new outlet for the Goth philosophy that all clothing is costume, so we might as well have fun with it.

No, this doesn't make Steampunk ok.
posted by Flashman at 7:29 PM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I just look really good in vests okay.
posted by The Whelk at 7:32 PM on January 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


Aren't gears, beakers, etc. slightly too costumey for ordinary fads?  
Oh wait, I know the answer : No, fashion doesn't mind silly, but IBM is still wrong..

Steampunk shall not go mainstream in 2013 because furries go mainstream in 2013.

Steampunk gets 38M Google hits, but that's across books, movies, music, etc. Steampunk fashion gets almost 10M hits, while Furry fashion gets 39M hits. Steampunk coat gets 2.5M hits, while ridiculous necomimi ears gets 2M. Steampunk hat gets 5M while Animal hat gets 19M hits and ear hat gets 22M.

If you go anyplace cold with kids, you'll see dozens wearing animal hats. I wore mine into the office today, but blame Japan not me. Are you about to claim that only plebs dress as furries and steampunk is for the well dressed? Try furry or high fashion? You might claim furries went mainstream in 2012 so steampunk gets 2013 perhaps.

I noticed "steampunk" kicks "ears" ass on etsy, but most steampunk stuff is infinitely easier to make than furry stuff. Just buy either vintage or costume wear, find some gears, and grab your hot glue gun.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:33 PM on January 23, 2013


I dunno, I think it says something about sci-fi/fantasy fans. Steampunk came from cyberpunk, and the 'punk' from that came from sympathy with the downtrodden, the people left behind by technology. But geeks see ourselves as the people who rule with technology - I took a class on Vicotorian literature, and I was swooning over descriptions of the Crystal Palace and stuff. So we go for the upper-class trappings.
One of the things about the Great Exhibition is that it was one of the relatively few opportunities for middle-class people to really look at and engage with the (then modern) machinery. Aside from locomotive engines, an awful lot of steam machinery was hidden away in factories, service areas, mines, agricultural areas and the like, where most of the folk who saw and worked with it were working-class. Indeed, in some areas poor children grew up around machinery and spent half their life working on or with it: they were the original "mechanics". Middle-class people often wouldn't have any knowledge of what the insides of a factory or industrial operations looked like, unless they specifically worked in those areas.

Yet, as you hint at, all those cogs and gears in steampunk are attached to typically non-working class clothing. I demand steampunk shawls for women and steampunk flatcaps for men! And steampunk clogs for all!
posted by Jehan at 7:42 PM on January 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


Ears nothing. I've seen people in full body Pikachu onesies at music festivals, and as the last Taylor Swift FPP pointed out there's all sorts of weird furry iconography in music videos. Both Green Day and Flaming Lips had dudes in giant rabbit costumes when I saw them.

Dosen't mean that people will want to have sex in fursuits.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 7:43 PM on January 23, 2013


So is steampunk the replacement for hipsters as the target of metafilter's incoherent rage and contempt?
posted by happyroach at 7:43 PM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]



Yet, as you hint at, all those cogs and gears in steampunk are attached to typically non-working class clothing. I demand steampunk shawls for women and steampunk flatcaps for men! And steampunk clogs for all!


The thing is ACTUAL punks (or at least folk-punks) do wear flatcaps, and there's some overlap between the sound of bands like Gogol Bordello and actual steampunk bands. Hell Franz Nicolay has played squeezebox for Against Me!, Hold Steady, World/Inferno Friendship Society... and Voltaire (or possibly Dr Steel. One of those steampunk musicians).

The punks pretend to be a bit more working class than they are, and the steampunks pretend not to be. And from the prices at my local steampunk emoporiums, it costs hundreds of dollars to be a steampunk.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 7:46 PM on January 23, 2013


So is steampunk the replacement for hipsters as the target of metafilter's incoherent rage and contempt?

If it is, its for the same reason: half of them are that thing.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 7:46 PM on January 23, 2013


Dosen't mean that people will want to have sex in fursuits.

Dear god, whatever you do, to preserve your innocence, don't go to xtube.com and do any searching related to furry.
posted by hippybear at 7:47 PM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I meant it won't become mainstream.

And now your username is making me picture the Grateful Dead logo engaging in some Rule 34.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 7:48 PM on January 23, 2013


Those are the Dancing Bears.

And whatever you do, don't google that! There's a porn company with that name.

If you don't know who the bears are, MeMail me and "we'll tawlk".
posted by hippybear at 7:52 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


What is this newfangled hip and trendy sensation? I hope this trend does not require me to upgrade to one of those fancy 33&1/3 record players to hear my favorite ragtime music.
posted by JJ86 at 8:01 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a steampunk teashop around the corner from me. I haven't been yet, but they have a regular booth at the Sunday Market selling tisanes and infusions and whatever all the time. I avidly want to support the small local quirky business, because yes, I really want a tea shop up the road, and yes, their products are delicious. But god, the themeiness just kills me. I feel like they should have a basket of top hats and monocles by the door.
posted by Mizu at 8:02 PM on January 23, 2013


What is this newfangled hip and trendy sensation? I hope this trend does not require me to upgrade to one of those fancy 33&1/3 record players to hear my favorite ragtime music.

Record players and ragtime are actually cooler than steampunk.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:02 PM on January 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


I feel like they should have a basket of top hats and monocles by the door.

Actually, I would probably go to that bar. Because of the hated awkward zone.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:03 PM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Regency Chic!

I never get to show off my shapely calves.
posted by The Whelk at 8:05 PM on January 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you base your consumer research on a pinterest dataset
you're gonna have a bad time
posted by 3mendo at 8:06 PM on January 23, 2013


wait no, Hellenepunk. FLOWING ROBES.
posted by The Whelk at 8:07 PM on January 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Steampunk never goes away. You can tell it's real time travel because it's always just about to break and it's never not present.
posted by Miko at 8:08 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thing with hardcore goth outfits, like corsets with tight straps and buckles and chains, is that you can understand what they are fetishising: suffering, bondage, torment, slavery, lack of free will. Because while punk was rebellion against conformity, I like to look at goth as an almost satirical caricature of it. Punk = fuck society! Goth = look what society does to us! (Yeah, yeah, radical oversimplifaction but that's how I roll.)

And the leather and the buckles and stuff? It's kinda of saucy. On guys it looks dumb but on girls it looks saucy.

But cogs and brass whistles, it's like, what are you fetishising? Railroads? Lunchtime in a big factory? Engines? Engines aren't saucy. You've got a pocket-watch that doesn't work. Why are you wearing a monocle? None of those give us information on what it is you are trying to "express", so all we can assume is that you're pretending to be somebody.

Overdressed goths are just super-fetishising the concepts of "gothness". You can look at them and go "Huh, goths! I thought we sprayed for goths last week!" and everyone can have a good laugh.

But overdressed steampunks are characters and they are wearing costumes. Nothing wrong with playing dress-ups but really, it's like going around as Worzel Gummidge. You can't go "Hey it's a guy dressed as a steampunk. I thought we sprayed for steampunks last week!" because steampunk isn't even a thing and the hilarious joke doesn't work. All you can do is say "Who the hell is that guy supposed to be? Is it the new Doctor Who? Hey, buddy! Are you the new Doctor Who?" "No this aesthetic is known as steampunk." "Whatever jerk, go...steam-punk your face!" It's all just terrible.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 8:15 PM on January 23, 2013 [15 favorites]


I don't really think it's worth getting all worked up over the specific symbolism or micro-identities people are reading into steampunk. That's just today's version of genre policing.

To me, there are two clear macro-level cultural shifts going on:

1. We're moving from a couple-decade period of realism into a revival of Romanticism. You'll see it in several forms, whether it's Regency punk, steampunk, a general reindulgence of the imaginative arts, whatever.

2. Costume is more important than ever. Being is dressing. Identity is fluid and malleable. The fashion industry is in decline - nobody really cares what they do any more. The individual reigns - the only bad way to look is like you didn't think about it. Clothing is cheap, and it's an everyday art form.

Engines aren't saucy

Come on, now.
posted by Miko at 8:21 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Steampunk's early adopters have more or less abandoned it by now. (They sell plastic goggles at Halloween stores fer cryin out loud)

For the next big thing (with less pretentiousness and more fun) might I recommend NerfPunk?
posted by ShutterBun at 8:24 PM on January 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Dear god, whatever you do, to preserve your innocence, don't go to xtube.com and do any searching related to furry.

TOO LATE


I have seen some unseeable things, man.



something with one of those terrifying mechanical ponies that had been modified oh god
posted by louche mustachio at 8:24 PM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


2. Costume is more important than ever. Being is dressing. Identity is fluid and malleable. The fashion industry is in decline - nobody really cares what they do any more. The individual reigns - the only bad way to look is like you didn't think about it.

I've noticed that werido fashion/historian hobbyist stuff only I enjoyed "Let's re-create a middle-class Northeastern 1930s look! With all the right materials!") is suddenly much more popular then I remember it being.

I say this as a person who went outside today in a Jimmy Darmody haircut and black wool suit with removable collars and period tie (and briefcase!) that there are some places I could go to where I that outfit would not stand out at all.
posted by The Whelk at 8:31 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


TOO LATE

I don't think anyone here thought you had any innocence left to preserve, louche mustachio.
posted by hippybear at 8:32 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


also my pocket watch works fine. I mean it needs winding and doesn't always go with what I have on but I can usually repair it myself. It's really pretty and it tells the time and is a neat bit of mechanical art!
posted by The Whelk at 8:33 PM on January 23, 2013


2013, 2014.. The Year of Linux on the Desktop

To be fair, within a couple years, Linux hackers might be the only people who give a shit about desktop computers, so they could finally make it by default.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 8:34 PM on January 23, 2013 [9 favorites]



2. Costume is more important than ever. Being is dressing. Identity is fluid and malleable. The fashion industry is in decline - nobody really cares what they do any more. The individual reigns - the only bad way to look is like you didn't think about it. Clothing is cheap, and it's an everyday art form.


I don't really like this. Whatever happend to PASSION NOT FASHION?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:35 PM on January 23, 2013


what if like the Bratz dolls, you have a passion for fashion?
posted by The Whelk at 8:37 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


turgid dahlia 2 absolutely wins the steampunk pile-on for subtly invoking the angry ghost of OG Steampunker Jon Pertwee to poop old-skool ecotoplasm on these latter-day pseudo-dandified mechanical fetishists.
posted by meehawl at 8:39 PM on January 23, 2013


There are an awful lot of non-functional zippers and buckles on clothing, especially goth clothing, not sure gears differ much except they lack the "oh does that one work" amusement factor. And conversely adafruit.com sells wearable arduinos that resemble buttons closely enough.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:43 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Engines aren't saucy

Of course not. With their giant, oiled connecting rods, and the huge, thrusting pistons...

wait what?
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:45 PM on January 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


Whatever happend to PASSION NOT FASHION?

I don't know whatever happened to it, because I never heard of it. However, if it was rooted in opposition to conformity and consumerism, that's neatly sidestepped by the prevalence of thrifted, borrowed, hacked, altered, DIY'd dressing that's going on.

Don't think about these things as fads or platforms for categorization and judgment. Think about them as invitations.
posted by Miko at 8:50 PM on January 23, 2013


Of course not. With their giant, oiled connecting rods, and the huge, thrusting pistons...

For the second time this week I need to share Tetsuo. Get your metal fetish on.
posted by Mezentian at 8:52 PM on January 23, 2013


Or howbout some Pat Pruitt jewelry.
posted by Miko at 8:54 PM on January 23, 2013


I don't know whatever happened to it, because I never heard of it. However, if it was rooted in opposition to conformity and consumerism, that's neatly sidestepped by the prevalence of thrifted, borrowed, hacked, altered, DIY'd dressing that's going on.

Don't think about these things as fads or platforms for categorization and judgment. Think about them as invitations.


Nah its about what's in your heart, not about what you wear on the outside. I know it sounds cheesy, and I know it probably never existed, but it should.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:05 PM on January 23, 2013


I read an article a few years ago in one of those ephemeral bus papers, loaded with so many buzz terms it's practically ungoogleable now, describing a group of steampunks in Calgary who were taking issue with the local police force. It seems that the police had recently declared the Juggalos a gang, and in so doing had given themselves the power to disperse them wherever they gathered in public. It was under this anti-Juggalo act that the steampunks, misidentified by a pair of patrol officers, were ejected from the grounds of the Calgary Stampede.

Would that I could have been a fly on the wall when the steampunks tried to explain to the cops how they were mistaken! Too bad this article hadn't been around then!
posted by metaman livingblog at 9:27 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


eatly sidestepped by the prevalence of thrifted, borrowed, hacked, altered, DIY'd dressing that's going on

A jawdropping feat of the threadcraft!
posted by adamdschneider at 9:29 PM on January 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


Poorcraft (note this is a very good book)
posted by The Whelk at 9:39 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow that's an offensive book.
posted by Jehan at 9:45 PM on January 23, 2013


yeah I hate cheap and easy recipes and guides to navigating loans.
posted by The Whelk at 9:48 PM on January 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Bean Punk, I don't know what that is just send me a check whenever hot topic.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:49 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's been done:

Dr. Robotnik has hatched a plan to ensure that no music or fun remains on Mobius. To do this, he kidnaps the jolly citizens of Beanville and stuffs them into a giant roboticizing machine called the Mean Bean-Steaming Machine (hence the name, Mean Bean Machine), before they become devious little robot slaves, as well as getting rid of them.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:52 PM on January 23, 2013


Drat, I shall electro-semaphore my intellectual property barrister.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:57 PM on January 23, 2013


yeah I hate cheap and easy recipes and guides to navigating loans.
I hate it when people equate being "new to independent living, a recent college graduate, or just downshifting to a simpler lifestyle" with being poor.

I hate it when they write a "funny" and "common sense" guide to being poor.

I hate it when they equate poor with "Bought far too many trendy clothes?"

If middle-class people need to learn how to save money, that's fine. But don't start calling yourselves "poor", because it's pretty damn insulting and naive. I mean, you going to go up to poor person one day and say, "hey, I know what being poor is like man, I was totally poor when I had just gotten out of college and was starting my career, but I read a funny comic and that really helped." Cause, I'm telling you, if that poor person punches you in the face, I'm going to forgive them.
posted by Jehan at 10:03 PM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


So I suppose an entire section on how to not get into payday or check cashing loan scams or the problems of insuring cars and the totally awful scamming involved in degree mills is also not good because it's in a format that is illustrated and easy to read?
posted by The Whelk at 10:10 PM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't think anyone here thought you had any innocence left to preserve, louche mustachio.

Not since 2010. I thought I found a little bit of it in 2012, but it was just a piece of fuzz.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:22 PM on January 23, 2013


Nuclear Zoot Suits are the next big thang.
posted by benzenedream at 10:46 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can't one just like the look of a thing?
posted by deborah at 10:48 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are the kids still gonna let their pants hang down around their thighs? That, I don't like.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:51 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nuclear Zoot Suits are the next big thang.

Ring a ding ding, baby.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 10:58 PM on January 23, 2013


When a trend is reported in Time Magazine, it's definitely over.

The freewheeling style of the Haight lent itself nicely to the imperatives of mass media. As Marty Balin of the Jefferson Airplane recalled, "I remember one time talking to a guy at Time magazine, when it was just hitting and Haight Street was like a tourist attraction and people were dressed in colorful costumes like you see at the Renaissance Faire. I told him, “It’s great that you’re publicizing this beautiful-feeling scene out here,” and he looked me right in the eye and said, “Fastest way to kill it.”
posted by dhartung at 11:18 PM on January 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Can't believe I forgot to post Dylan utterly demolishing a Time writer.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:26 PM on January 23, 2013


I'm okay with the fashion going steam punk if it kills the eye-searing neon 80s clothing that is popular right now. Please, I can't handle the hot pink and highlghter yellow anymore. And never mind the comeback of zebra and leopard print *shudder* I'll take silly, non-functional gears every day over the 80s crap.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 12:52 AM on January 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Regarding steampunk as a celebration of Victorian imperialism and colonialism, the "original" steampunk science fiction stories as written in the 1970ties (A Transatlantic Tunnel Hurrah!, The Warlord of the Air, The Difference Engine (slightly later)) were explicitely anti-imperialist and satirical, but just as with urban fantasy the surface elements became popular while the essence was left behind.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:13 AM on January 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


Sangermaine: "Still, at least it goes for a Victorian idea of PROGRESS!, socially regressive as it may be.

It's about rich white people in blimps and nostalgia for a past when men were real men, women were real women, and the filthy minorities and colonials knew their place.
"

Or, like a good friend of mine who's a Chinese American, a way to take her love of costuming and improv and create an explorer persona-- in a way, taking back agency that would have been denied to her were she actually around in Victorian society at the time.

There are actually lots of people of color interested and invested in the creative opportunities steampunk has to offer, from the crafting and costuming to the writing and exploring and deconstruction of race, gender, patriarchy and colonialism.
posted by ShawnStruck at 2:27 AM on January 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Or, like a good friend of mine who's a Chinese American, a way to take her love of costuming and improv and create an explorer persona--

This sort of thing is actually an interesting (but undeveloped) plot point in The Moon Maze Game by Barnes & Niven.
posted by Mezentian at 2:34 AM on January 24, 2013


Nuclear Zoot Suits are the next big thang.

Hubba Hubba.
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:30 AM on January 24, 2013


So is everybody on metafilter over sixty now, except possibly the Whelk, or it just everybody in this thread? My laaaawn!
posted by jfuller at 5:13 AM on January 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


There are actually lots of people of color interested and invested in the creative opportunities steampunk has to offer, from the crafting and costuming to the writing and exploring and deconstruction of race, gender, patriarchy and colonialism.

There are also many of us who are tired and get really exasperated when white people begin romanticizing "the good old days" (fictionalized or not), because they weren't good for all of us. If there were some seed of self-reflection or analysis embedded in these things perhaps it wouldn't be so tiresome. It also doesn't help that when we voice our apprehension we are labeled as "liberal guilt", and "oversensitive." That's when the rage starts . . .
posted by anansi at 5:13 AM on January 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


There are also many of us who are tired and get really exasperated when white people begin romanticizing "the good old days" (fictionalized or not), because they weren't good for all of us.

Hell, they weren't even good for white people.
posted by Stagger Lee at 5:28 AM on January 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


There are also many of us who are tired and get really exasperated when white people begin romanticizing "the good old days" (fictionalized or not),

They're not the "good old days" if they are fictionalized to the point of steampunk. This criticism makes absolutely no sense; you might as well say Super Mario Bros. is offensive to those who actually suffered under real monarchies (mushroom-ed or not).

And what era did not feature massive injustice? Does all fiction set before the present have to be a long scold to satisfy you?

because they weren't good for all of us.

Wow; the oldest person in the world is a MeFite!
posted by spaltavian at 5:33 AM on January 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Every time you put on a necktie, you are romanticising the small, knotted neckerchiefs worn by Croation mercenaries during the Thirty Years' War. Unless, every time you wear one, you shout out, "I DO NOT IN FACT CONDONE THE INFAMOUS VICIOUSNESS OF THE MERCENARIES IN SERVICE TO THE IMPERIAL HAPSBURGS" every five minutes or so, you are obviously a terrible person.

Similarly, if you have ever worn a belt at waist level, you had best be able to state why it was not an implicit show of support for the armies of Tsarist Russia. Do not wear high-heeled shoes unless you are prepared to repudiate the brutal persecution of Protestants under the reign of Queen Mary of England. Any trenchcoat you own had better come with an explanation of exactly why you stand with the officers of the World War I era British military rather than the common soldiers who suffered under their decisions.

Because obviously, no article of clothing can ever be worn for its appearance and largely separated from its distant historic origin and context, no matter how silly this concept may seem.

Now take off those leather boots immediately. Fascist.
posted by kyrademon at 6:03 AM on January 24, 2013 [19 favorites]


That's not totally fair. Steampunk is more than aesthetic, it's alternate history. It absolutely does have a sociopolitical context. Fans don't need to be willingly participating or even aware of subtext for that subtext to exist.


Now take off those leather boots immediately. Fascist.
posted by kyrademon at 6:03 AM on January 24 [+] [!]


Well sure, you want to talk about how much authoritarianism, or at the very least militarism, has trickled into men's fashion? We can do that too, it's absolutely there.

There's context, and then there's individual reasons for participating. Most people that like steampunk (or fantasy in general) are not bigots, but it's still worth noticing when your escapist fantasy is dominated by rich white men with a fist around history's neck. It's not a criticism of fans, it's a criticism of the genre, and one that can probably be extended to much broader categories of western media.
posted by Stagger Lee at 6:13 AM on January 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Thank you white people for pointing out the ridiculousness of my feelings about race, class and hierarchies. I stand corrected!
posted by anansi at 6:25 AM on January 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


I went to an antique steam engine show last year. Surprisingly, there where no steam punks there.
posted by thylacine at 6:27 AM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


anansi: Thank you white people for pointing out the ridiculousness of my feelings about race, class and hierarchies.

I can't speak for any of the other white devils, but personally I was pointing out the ridiculousness of your feelings about steampunk costumes.
posted by spaltavian at 6:54 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


By the way, why I am on the hook for my current privilege, but you get to take on the mantle of people who died a century before you were born? Wouldn't I look pretty silly if I took the suffering of the Potato Famine on as my own?

If you want to talk about historical racism and imperalism hurts people today, that makes a lot of sense, but again, steampunk didn't happen. It's not a historical anything.
posted by spaltavian at 6:57 AM on January 24, 2013


I went to an antique steam engine show last year. Surprisingly, there where no steam punks there.

That would require them to actually care about things that are powered by steam.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:10 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Aw hell. If we're going to do this, let's do it right. Enough lazy judgy one-liners.

Racialicious on the Intersection of Race and Steampunk

African-American Steampunk

State of Black Sci-Fi 2012: Why I Love Steampunk
Steampunk/Alt History Week: Living in Color

Steampunk: What it Is, Why I Came to Like it, and Why I THink It'll be Sticking Around

Beyond Victoriana: A Multicultural Perspective on Steampunk

Nah its about what's in your heart, not about what you wear on the outside. I know it sounds cheesy, and I know it probably never existed, but it should.

I would say that if you're judging people's hearts by what they wear on the outside, it's your heart that needs the attention.
posted by Miko at 7:12 AM on January 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


I just hope that whenever this fad blows over, the next one will bring back powdered wigs, cause the whole shaved-head thing has gotten way out of hand lately.
posted by TwoToneRow at 7:12 AM on January 24, 2013


Honestly, I can take or leave steampunk. All too often it feels like "I'm-a glue some gears on it and ta-dah! I got an Etsy store!"

My feelings are mostly equal parts irritated, fascinated, and baffled about the romanticizing of an time period where things were not so great unless you had money.



(i was proudly and happily a high school Goth though.)
posted by Kitteh at 7:15 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Goth romanticizes the medeival era, which if anything was an even worse time, human-rights wise.

My historical perspective on the Victorians has come around quite a bit in recent years with more time spent studying them and the slightly earlier context. The seeds of empire, mercantilism and all their many related ills were poisonous indeed, but they have deeper roots in the 15-, 16-, 1700s; empire is not a product of 19th century conditions alone. Meanwhile, the seeds of social reform and ideas of material and scientific progress are utterly post-Enlightenment/2nd Great Awakening Victorian.

Yes, everything sucked for everybody at varying levels, but the nineteenth century spanned what is probably the single most dramatic overall improvement in social justice, daily living conditions, and scientific understanding of any century in recorded time, including quite honestly the 20th century, despite marked improvements on earlier efforts in specific areas and some important corrections from regression.

It's easy to slam Victorians for their many historical misdeeds and blindnesses. But the world of 1800 was dramatically different - technologically, socially, politically, materially - than the world of 1900, for vast numbers of people and that is worth putting into context before deciding how utterly terrible everyone was. If you're not sure about that, ask yourself which you would rather live in, (not you powdered wig geeks, though, we know what you're gonna say).
posted by Miko at 7:26 AM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


You know, I've said this before, but it bears repeating. When women speak their mind, men take umbrage. When the poor speak their mind, the wealthy speak of "class war". When gay folk speak their mind, heteronormatives talk about "agendas". And when black folk (insert minority du jour) speak their mind, whites begin to talk about "the race card". This just reinforces to me that people with unexamined privilege act like narcissistic assholes.


And with this I'm done. I've had this conversation here too many times. I often feel like this place is becoming more like Reddit. I guess I'll still lurk, but I've learned my lesson about taking off the mask in majority arenas.

Ashe.
posted by anansi at 7:30 AM on January 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


anansi, I really wish you could reconsider that decision because I was looking forward to hearing more from you. But I can respect it if that's the best thing for you. Too bad for the rest of us, though.
posted by Miko at 7:47 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pointing out that you may be wrong in your assumptions is not trying to boot you out. You came at a claim strongly, and so people returned with the same strength. I hope you were not planning on your comment simply netting a dozen favorites and no disagreement what-so-ever. We WANT your perspective even if we disagree with your conclusions. All of us are allowed both.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 7:47 AM on January 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Goth romanticizes the medeival era, which if anything was an even worse time, human-rights wise.

As far my studies go, I was unaware that the medieval era of Goth involved voluminous hair, buckles on everything, and white face paint.

I would like your books, please, because obviously they are more interesting than mine.
posted by Kitteh at 7:56 AM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Miko, the Goth subculture romanticizes a school of literature and film (Gothic horror) which romanticized a general aesthetic (Gothic art) from the medieval era. Really, several steps removed from the period itself.
posted by gilrain at 8:05 AM on January 24, 2013 [3 favorites]



You know, I've said this before, but it bears repeating. When women speak their mind, men take umbrage. When the poor speak their mind, the wealthy speak of "class war". When gay folk speak their mind, heteronormatives talk about "agendas". And when black folk (insert minority du jour) speak their mind, whites begin to talk about "the race card". This just reinforces to me that people with unexamined privilege act like narcissistic assholes.


And with this I'm done. I've had this conversation here too many times. I often feel like this place is becoming more like Reddit. I guess I'll still lurk, but I've learned my lesson about taking off the mask in majority arenas.

Ashe.
posted by anansi at 7:30 AM on January 24 [2 favorites +] [!]


When you call people bigots they get defensive. There's nothing shocking about that. Sometimes it's more constructive to work to fix systems of inequality than to try to lay blame at the feet of the people that participate in those systems.

There are things that could be done better in steampunk, but that doesn't make everyone that enjoys steampunk complicit. I think that you'll find a lot of people do share your concerns, but aren't necessarily expressing it the same way that you are.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:22 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Miko, the Goth subculture romanticizes a school of literature and film (Gothic horror) which romanticized a general aesthetic (Gothic art) from the medieval era. Really, several steps removed from the period itself.

Whereas Steampunk is a faithful recreation of the Victorian era's zeppelin wars, pneumatic-tube information services and steam-powered thinking engines.
posted by spaltavian at 8:29 AM on January 24, 2013


Miko, the Goth subculture romanticizes a school of literature and film (Gothic horror) which romanticized a general aesthetic (Gothic art) from the medieval era. Really, several steps removed from the period itself.

Well, if you are talking about the Gothic Revival, then yes. And when was this Gothic Revival era which Goths romanticize?
posted by Miko at 8:33 AM on January 24, 2013


We're saying the same thing in different tones of voice, I think.
posted by gilrain at 8:36 AM on January 24, 2013


I'm not exactly sure what you're saying.

I'm saying that it's silly to critique steampunk on the basis of its human-rights implications from a Goth perspective, because a Goth perspective necessarily adopts an aesthetic of the same general historical period, in fact harkening back to even more inegalitarian times than the 1800s.
posted by Miko at 8:42 AM on January 24, 2013


Ah, okay. I think I took your simplification literally when you were actually simplifying for effect. You said "Goth romanticizes the medeival era", which is only very indirectly true and why I responded. In essence, we seem to agree.
posted by gilrain at 8:46 AM on January 24, 2013


I would like your books, please, because obviously they are more interesting than mine.

I'm not a costume historian, but secondary references are not hard to come by, and a quick call to a reference librarian or a few minutes on JSTOR could provide you with more scholarly sources.
The European Middle Ages followed the Greco-Roman trend of pale faces. Those who were wealthy enough not to have to labor outdoors wanted to show off their affluence by being pale. Fashionable sixth-century women would achieve the look by bleeding themselves...During the Renaissance, women strived for pale skin, and used a whitening agent composed of carbonate, hydroxide, and lead oxide to create a porcelain-like face. These agents, cumulatively stored in the body with each use, were responsible for numerous physical problems and resulted in some cases in muscle paralysis. During the time of Louis XIV and Queen Elizabeth I (known for her pale face), the problem became catastrophic and resulted in many early deaths. In Italy, one scheming Signora Toffana created a face powder made from arsenic for wealthy women. Signora instructed her clients to apply the powder to their cheeks when their husbands were around. Six hundred dead husbands (and many wealthy widows) later, Toffana was executed.
women in England 'painted their faces white' to achieve a paler-looking complexion. Women often painted their faces with blaunchet or wheaten flour or used lead-filled cosmetics. It was assured that the root of the Madonna lily would whiten the face. Research also suggests 'ground lily root' made a powder for faces, although it does not specify what kind of lily was recommended. The Compendium Anglicus from 1240 written by Gilbertus Anglicus recommends cyclamen root.
posted by Miko at 8:48 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


which is only very indirectly true

Well, without the aesthetic principles of the Gothic era, there is no Goth, so I don't agree that it's indirect. What we call "goth" is a repeated cultural trope whose aesthetic foundations extend back centuries, into the medieval era, where they were first articulated as an ordered system. All that's happened since consists of glosses, updates, interpretations and hybridizations on that aesthetic system, with high peak periods in the second quarter of the 1800s and the second quarter of the 1900s and probably the last quarter as well.
posted by Miko at 8:49 AM on January 24, 2013


I call it indirect because no goth outside of an academic setting would say, "I am romanticizing the medieval era," or "I wear these clothes because I am emulating medieval culture." Instead, the goths of today are influenced by the goths of yesterdecade, are influenced by the goths of yestercentury, and so on. I feel that counts as only indirectly romanticizing the medieval era itself.

The closest thing I can think of to directly romanticizing the medieval era would be reenactment. However, we agree on the facts and are quibbling over the exact language used to describe them.
posted by gilrain at 8:59 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fair play, but I agree with gilrain in that I never heard anyone when I was a teenage Goth say those things.

I no longer have a Goth perspective, thanks, because I moved on and became my own thing that didn't require me to wear a costume or spend inordinate amounts of time fussing over a wardrobe.
posted by Kitteh at 9:03 AM on January 24, 2013


Both Green Day and Flaming Lips had dudes in giant rabbit costumes when I saw them.

The Flaming Lips have had people dancing on stage in animal costumes at their shows for at least a decade.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 9:03 AM on January 24, 2013


If you want to talk about historical racism and imperalism hurts people today, that makes a lot of sense, but again, steampunk didn't happen.

Neither has science fiction in general, but that doesn't mean there's a nasty political subtext in e.g. Pournelle's The Mercenary.

In steampunk's case, if the historical context and roots of the genre are neglected, if it's all brass goggles and non-functional gears on boots, kewl adventures on impossible steam zeppelins and nary a thought to those who are caught in the clockwork grinders, that helps making it that much more difficult to see actually existing injustices.

If you think science fiction/steampunk is important, is more than just entertainment, than you need to be critical and not gloss over the mountains of skulls any Victorian derived alternate history is build upon.

And even mere entertainments can subvert the ruling paradigms, e.g. the latest Dr Who special, with its lesbian mixed-species (Silurian/human) couple of Victorian adventurers.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:13 AM on January 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


As a person with a bit of a retro bent I sometimes struggle with the fact that some clothes I like might seem to represent a nostalgia for a situation of privilege and intolerance. This can be tempered with a bit of irony or post-modern "I am taking this out of context" attitude or going for the threadbare or working-class style. Creative punks, mods and hippies all have great examples of fancy clothes worn in an ironic (and cool) style to underscore their appropriation.

Frankly, I think steampunk is kind of silly but I'm happy to see something a bit more theatrical and subcultural than the vague bourgeois bohemian "authentic" retro that has been the norm the last 10 years. And while the concerns about referencing the high point of colonial empire are valid, I don't perceive a strong regressive political agenda in the scene. They just seem like nerds who read too much Sherlock Holmes and now they are having fun with it.
posted by mr.ersatz at 9:19 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I moved on and became my own thing that didn't require me to wear a costume

You are always required to wear a costume. You don't think of it that way because you have absorbed your default context to such an extent that complying with its dress standards is largely unconscious, but it is a costume just the same. I don't always feel the same way about this.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:25 AM on January 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


I don't really care about Steampunk as a thing (except I don't like wearing brown or formalwear), but I think a lot of the irritation with "Steampunk" people is really more an irritation with the revival of the "Dandy" movement, which gets lumped in with Steampunk, but is really just neo-Victorian/Gay-Nineties wear, and is usually accompanied by some dedication to "chivalry", which tends to play out as "Nice Guy" syndrome gone berserk.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:39 AM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


the goths of today are influenced by the goths of yesterdecade, are influenced by the goths of yestercentury, and so on. I feel that counts as only indirectly romanticizing the medieval era itself.

Fair play, but I agree with gilrain in that I never heard anyone when I was a teenage Goth say those things.


So aren't these assertions, in themselves, an argument that it's possible for people to participate in cultural tropes without accepting, endorsing, or even understanding the conditions of their historical foundations?
posted by Miko at 9:47 AM on January 24, 2013


You are always required to wear a costume. You don't think of it that way because you have absorbed your default context to such an extent that complying with its dress standards is largely unconscious, but it is a costume just the same.

Come on, you know what she means. There's a difference between going to Tesco in a suit and going to Tesco dressed as a member of Malice Mizer. It's why a lot of people like vintage aesthetics but don't dress/live in them full time - not only is it a lot of work (remember the Ghost World quote about how if you go for a 40s look, then you have to drive a 40s car and wear 40s shoes?) and expense ('true' vintage people don't do repro, which is a bit rubbish if you aren't a 5ft6 person with size 4 feet) but there are occasions and environments where you are going to get a reaction anywhere on a spectrum from askance looks to verbal abuse from strangers. And sometimes one is not in the mood to deal with that.

There's a lot of discussion about this kind of thing in the vintage community - calling the 30-60s period 'the Golden age' doesn't necessarily recognise that it was not so for people of colour, women, or even the lower classes. I remember reading a book by an editor of The Idler who espoused going back to medieval values - if I'd been born in medieval times, or even during the Industrial Revolution, I'd just have died after giving birth to my tenth child in a ditch.
posted by mippy at 9:52 AM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


The amount of hate steampunk is attracting here is kind of odd, although I do think steampunk is entirely silly. But it's weird that people don't understand the attraction that artifice holds.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:54 AM on January 24, 2013


> it's possible for people to participate in cultural tropes without accepting, endorsing, or even understanding the conditions of their historical foundations

I entirely agree, yes.
posted by gilrain at 9:54 AM on January 24, 2013


To clarify, there was no anti-steampunk intent in my argument. From my perspective, it was simply a discussion of the semantics of direct vs indirect medieval influence on the goth subculture.
posted by gilrain at 9:56 AM on January 24, 2013


calling the 30-60s period 'the Golden age' doesn't necessarily recognise that it was not so for people of colour, women, or even the lower classes.

Meaning the 1930-60s? The 1940s were miserable in a lot of places, regardless of class, for obvious reasons (WW2). I guess nostalgia is always rosy-eyed.
posted by ersatz at 10:14 AM on January 24, 2013


Whoever jokingly mentioned seapunk upthread had it right, actually - seapunk is going to be the trend that goes from underground to mainstream in a big way this year. Bookmark this comment and check back in December.
posted by naju at 10:18 AM on January 24, 2013


Sure. I guess I don't really make much distinction between "direct" and "indirect" where cultural tropes are concerned. There are always some members of a subculture, often important designers/tastemakers and drivers, who take inspiration directly from primary documents and visual culture, and seek out that content to inform their present-day practice. And then there are others who interact with them, perhaps not caring or knowing about the source of an concept at all, but being willing to embellish and extrapolate from what's been surfaced and adapted, and expand/play with/within the aesthetic some more. Both keep primary components of the aesthetic echoing down through time, but it's not as though there is no direct reference to history for inspiration, ideas, clothing, theatre, cosmetics, language, typography, etc. for members of any subculture which references history. The level of engagement with primary content (direct vs. indirect) which people choose is primarily individual, not a function of distance from that content in time.
posted by Miko at 10:19 AM on January 24, 2013


> The level of engagement with primary content (direct vs. indirect) which people choose is primarily individual, not a function of distance from that content in time.

Would you agree that as the distance in time from the primary content increases, the number of individuals in the subculture who directly reference the primary content decreases? That seems natural and would explain why so few modern goths would acknowledge their relation to medieval culture.
posted by gilrain at 10:30 AM on January 24, 2013


Seapunk is Bush I era retro, which is were we go now that Reagan era retro is done. Parker Lewis Can't Lose mashed up with '90s New Age (itself a variety of '70's retro.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:55 AM on January 24, 2013


On the first page of GIS for "Seapunk" - damn. I thought I was kidding.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:57 AM on January 24, 2013


"Punk" is just turning into a meaningless sound, isn't it, something we append to other words to vaguely mean "stuff".
posted by adamdschneider at 11:05 AM on January 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Would you agree that as the distance in time from the primary content increases, the number of individuals in the subculture who directly reference the primary content decreases?

My first instinct would be to say no. The people responsible for creating a gothic sensibility in the 19th century included people who referenced 13th century literature and visited cathedrals, and were more consciously rebelling against neoclassicism and the Enlightenment. But as they created fashions in their writing, dress, performance, and music, they influenced thousands more who did not have those direct experiences. Pop culture being what it is, I think the proportion of people whose inspiration for creative production could be called "direct" remains fairly consistent through time.
posted by Miko at 11:14 AM on January 24, 2013


Does anyone have a good guide to Victorian etiquette? I'm trying to figure out which fork I'm supposed to use to eat this plate of beans.
posted by usonian at 2:01 PM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm so sending this thread a vase of Aconite
posted by The Whelk at 2:06 PM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does anyone have a good guide to Victorian etiquette? I'm trying to figure out which fork I'm supposed to use to eat this plate of beans.

"At every respectable table you will find silver forks; being broader, they are in all respects more convenient than steel for fish or vegetables. Steel forks, except for carving, are now never placed on the table.

Eat peas with a dessert spoon; and curry also. Tarts and puddings are to be eaten with a spoon.* As a general rule -- in helping any one at table, never use a knife where you can use a spoon.

*By a step in pseudo refinement, the etiquette of 1839 pronounces that the use of a spoon must be carefully avoided at dinner, it being only admissible for soup and ices."

Hints on Etiquette and the Usages of Society
by Charles William Day
19th edition, 1839
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:09 PM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


SEE HOW FUN IT IS?
posted by Miko at 7:24 PM on January 24, 2013


5 Positive Things Steampunk Is Doing Right Now, from creating opportunities for and about people from marginalized backgrounds to posits questions about ethical responsibility concerning consumer choices and means of production, on tor.com .
posted by ShawnStruck at 7:41 AM on January 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


From ShawnStruck's link:

1.) Steampunk helps raise funds for educational and cultural institutions in need.

This is absolutely true. I am a defender of it not because I'm part of the scene - I'm not - but because I work in the cultural heritage field, and I can see what it's done locally and regionally and for many specific kinds of museums. A couple great examples are linked in that post.

2.) Steampunk encourages artist networks.

Also, entirely true. Even those not in the scene are invited to, and often happy to, explore the vocabulary. It can prod people to adapt and explore new materials and to become interested in processes they hadn't tried before, like clockwork, soldering, leatherwork.
posted by Miko at 8:52 AM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


> I'm so sending this thread a vase of Aconite

Really, you don't need but one to know how they feel about us. (Found this 'un in my own back yard. And lived!)
posted by jfuller at 10:33 AM on January 25, 2013


Whoever jokingly mentioned seapunk upthread had it right, actually - seapunk is going to be the trend that goes from underground to mainstream in a big way this year.

That was me. I think it already has.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:29 AM on January 27, 2013


Also from ShawnStruck's link (though the link there was broken)

The League of S.T.E.A.M.: like a steampunk Ghostbusters.
posted by larrybob at 10:35 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


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