Do They Like Us?

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Steampunk backpack by Nathan Rupert
Photo by Nathan Rupert

There has been enough lament now, about steampunk going mainstream. I am still not sure whether or not steampunk has actually gone mainstream, or will ever really get there but one thing is clear: steampunk is no longer underground. I guess all the people who are now lamenting pop videos with steampunk content also had a hand in bringing it out from cellars and parties in unknown clubs.

There have been enough conventions with a visible steampunk presence, to catch the attention of mainstream media. This is where we are now: Steampunk has been targeted by major news outlets, as this video by PBS shows.

It does not end there. This is also happening in places with a not as visible a scene. Only two days ago, a major German newspaper, Die Zeit, published a two-page essay about steampunk. Alex Jahnke of Clockworker.de was a contributor and I presume largely responsible for the accurate information in this article.

Just to give you a brief summary: The article gives a short history of steampunk, the subculture and the mindset. It is in no way negative or describes steampunks as weird or even aberrant misfits.

Interestingly, this has thus far been the case with every report in mainstream media report I have come across. Unlike the very negatively biased and sometimes downright invented reports on the Goth and Heavy Metal scenes coughed up by the media in the late 1980s and 1990s, the stance towards steampunk is neutral or even friendly.

One gets the impression, the mainstream media likes us. Maybe it is because they view us like exotic butterflies, beautiful to look at and non-threatening, maybe they can actually relate to our mindset and find it intriguing. Whatever the reason is, I am quite happy about mainstream media reporting on us and doing so in a positive tone.

More people will hear of and read about us. Of course, this leads to a new influx of people, some will stay and become pillars of our community, for most it will just be another episode in their lives. Either way, we win. As long as people find steampunk beautiful, intriguing and fascinating, the scene is alive. The more people think so, the more alive it is. I for my part welcome the recent media coverage.

1 COMMENT

  1. The most negative thing I’ve seen about steampunk in the Belgian media was one magazine pimping a steampunk looking device (I forgot what it was exactly) and said the trend was on it’s decline but that it was still perfectly acceptable to own this thing.
    Aside from that, nothing but positivity.

    I think it’s partly because we at the worst look a bit odd but in the end of the day there’s no negative connotation to steampunk like there is with other subcultures. Parents have nothing to worry about when their kid joins the movement.

    I agree with you, and I took welcome the media coverage. A subculture can’t survive without the influx of new members, and positive media coverage helps attracting them.

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