“I steampunk, therefore I am”
I like that saying. I had a discussion recently with CmDr Gearwood-Day from Dieselpunk HQ about how steampunk is classified. Dieselpunks aren’t as reserved as steampunks when it comes to boundaries and rules and that must be somewhat easier to live by.
It was my argument (at the time it was pertaining to music, but this can be applied to all areas and, indeed, steampunks as people) that if you calls yourself a steampunk, then all work that you call steampunk, by that parameter, must be steampunk. The argument against was that it’s not enough for a person calling it steampunk to be classed as steampunk and it needs to – ideally – have someone else independent calling it steampunk. If that happens, then one can go ahead and call it steampunk.
Of course, this is a difficult area to broach because steampunk is as individual as a fingerprint, so I don’t see why – in order to call myself steampunk – I need someone else agreeing with me. I do see the benefits of this; there are a plethora of products out there classing themselves as steampunk in order to make more money on eBay or Etsy and they bring the scene down, somewhat. However, I do wholeheartedly believe that if you’re going to have a culture as diverse and welcoming and unique as steampunk, then people need to be completely unrestricted in their vision of what steampunk is to them. Bear in mind, steampunk is essentially an alternate timeline instead of a time period, so steampunk can incorporate past, present and future. But it’s our mutual affection for the late 19th century styles that draw us all together under the collective name of steampunk.
Yes it means we’re going to get the occasional bad egg in the basket, but given the impossibility of getting just two steampunks to agree on anything, let alone a group of them; for these articles we’ll use the logical approach that:
“If you say you’re a steampunk and you make something and say it’s steampunk, then no-one can argue with you”.
That’s not an unfair thing to say, I don’t think. After all, who am I to say what you should think steampunk is? It’s none of my business. It’s my business to learn about steampunk and find out what other people are doing around the world. It’s a voyage of discovery and enlightenment and at the weekend we run around in silly hats. Fun is just as much a part of it.