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Is Steampunk Over? October 11, 2010

Posted by Mitchell in Home.

So sayeth Lileks

At the end of of one of his latest posts on The Bleat:

Also on the list of OVER and ENOUGH:

Virus movies

Rut roh.  Obviously James and I are on the same wavelength regarding zombies and vampires.  And frankly we can tuck “virus movies” under the zombie heading because, come on, they’re really the same thing.  What this all means is I have to take his assessment of what’s “over and enough” seriously.
In the back of my mind I was kinda-sorta wondering about this. Usually when something cool first comes along it’s done by people who are really interested in it and they have to make the stuff for it themselves because you can’t just walk into a store somewhere and pluck it off the shelf.  Once something gets successfully and fully commercialized a lot of the cool-factor is sucked out, because now people who have a mild-to-moderate interest in the cool thing can indulge in it without actually investing a lot of their own personal time and creativity.  Yes, I am talking about myself here, but you know what I mean.  It’s at this point the authenticity starts leeching out of the cool thing and gradually gets replaced with plastic until in the end it becomes a happy meal toy.  Halloween has basically gone this route. 

Dammit.  I always do this.  I hop on the bandwagon just when all the original people who originally made the bandwagon decide that all the fun is out of the ride and start hopping off.



1. Lemur King - October 11, 2010

Not a chance. There are plenty of people who will always like the twist of “dignified victorian” with “Jules Verne” and see it not as a fad but something to be enjoyed.

D&D is still going strong after all these years because there’s something intrinsically captivating about it, and I think it’s the case here, too.

I saw someone write disparagingly a few years ago (regarding steampunk) and it still is alive and well.

Zombies have been hollywood-ized and vampires were Twilighted to death.

I wouldn’t go picking out black armbands just yet, Mitchell.

2. Mitchell - October 11, 2010

A black armband with little clockwork gears and pistons on it. *sniff*

3. LC Aggie Sith - October 11, 2010

Oh, please…..

I have liked Steampunk since I saw 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea back in the 70’s. In Spanish, no less. It isn’t dead for moi, and it sure isn’t dead for a hell of a lot of people. Lileks paints broadly with his brush, IMO.

4. Mitchell - October 11, 2010

Look I’m not really saying, or even suggesting that Steampunk is “dead”. Obviously its not. I’m just wondering if perhaps the zeppelin-assisted cyclist has sailed over the large, mechanized, carnivorous fish is all.

5. LC Aggie Sith - October 11, 2010

In short, no.

Glad to be of service 😉

6. Mitchell - October 12, 2010

Oh, ok. Since you say so Aggie.

7. LC Aggie Sith - October 12, 2010


8. Mitchell - October 14, 2010

9. Steamboat McGoo - October 15, 2010

Ya know – I bet if three or four of us just think real hard at the same time that “Steampunk is NOT over!” , it will simply become so.

Couldn’t hurt…

Mitchell, did you see the video where the original commercials’ creators describe how they did it – all in one continuous take?

10. Mitchell - October 15, 2010

No I don’t think I’ve seen that McGoo. I did know it was one continuous take though. I read that somewhere when it first came out.

11. Steamboat McGoo - October 15, 2010

Yep, there is a video somewhere out there. I watched it 1-2-3 weeks(?) ago. I’ll see if I can find it. It’s not too long.

12. Steamboat McGoo - October 16, 2010

Here it is:

13. Mitchell - October 16, 2010

Ah, very cool. Thanks McGoo!

14. Cruel Wife - October 17, 2010

Dang it, LK got me started again. I’ll bet he thinks this is quid pro quo for getting him hooked on Girl Genius.

Steampunk definitely is not dead, nor has it been over-commercialized. Why? IMO, to do it costs more than most manufacturers will invest. There isn’t a large enough market share to justify it. Yes, there are more movies cashing in on it (Sherlock Holmes, for instance), but I haven’t walked into a store recently to find corsets, vests, boiler hats, top hats, or late 19th century shirts for sale.

What has happened, though, is that Steampunk has become “trendy”. Wow. I was actually ahead of the trend in something! (I didn’t go into metallurgy for the overabundance of jobs!) I can well believe someone who isn’t interested in the genre saying “enough already”, but lots of people are still going to like Steampunk after the trends move on.

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