Monday, August 25, 2008

steampunk philosophy

The internet curmudgeons sometimes have a way of getting to me. I've passed through any sort of phase where I feel the need to be an Internet Tough Guy (well, Gal) and boast about how brilliant/strong/well-informed/grammatically superior I am, and I find it annoying when people feel the need to derail a good discussion with pointlessly negative put-downs.

A good example is this thread from Apartment Therapy, where an unwitting reader asks for a source for a print and is shouted down by a host of design nerds who declare it "SO last season" and "too ubiquitous to be even remotely relevant". The print, by the way, is a limited run print by an independant artist who sells them on Etsy, not a commercially available poster or something. Now, it is the internet, and of course they are welcome to their opinions, but that level of hate for a piece of independant art that someone wants to put in their own home? Kind of uncalled for.

So a scifi blog I enjoy, io9, started a discussion today entitled "What's Wrong With Steampunk?". It quotes a designer by the name of Randy Nakamura, who says:
Steampunking, with its commerce driven, faddish re-skinning of their own history, is closer to Disney than punk or sci-fi. A laptop styled like a Eastlake sideboard is merely a threat of bad taste, not a threatening reaction to massive social and economic disenfranchisement. In its essence 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.
It's a fair statement, I suppose. Steampunk doesn't have a slogan or a philosophy beyond a certain love of anachronism, handcrafting, and neat gadgets, along with quiet spaces and old-fashioned comfort. I actually really like the idea of a fashion that doesn't pretend to be deep and meaningful on political and spiritual levels, and I think there's a certain amount of backlash against the modern need to split everyone into philosophical categories based on what they wear, buy, watch, and listen to. I resent the implication that because it doesn't have a built in identity for me to subscribe to, it means I have no interest in life beyond shiny objects. It doesn't mean anything. It's fashion.
If I sound annoyed, it's because the commenters - from a nerdy scifi community, no less - spend many pages tearing down steampunk as a fake trend and just generally throwing around a lot of negativity.
And I'm not even a steampunk. I don't own a single set of goggles or a modded raygun. I just like the aesthetic. It's pretty and eccentric. I think that's enough.

Real life update: the position with the city has been filled by someone with twenty years of experience, and the position with Radian6 is on hold while they discuss the position within the management. I'm not very hopeful about it; it sounds like it may have been killed. Regardless, I'm supposed to get in touch next week to see what's up, so maybe there's hope yet.
I've applied for seven more positions today and have a couple to apply to tomorrow on campus, so the search continues.


Blogger GailM. said...

Steampunk --To deep for me Stef...

Let's keep our fingers crossed on the job front. I'll keep my eyes open...

8:06 AM  

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