The title of this article is an oxymoron, as it’s impossible for the Hollywood machine to create anything that fits the Victorian Steampunk subculture. It would be just as bizarre for a large corporate sponsor to supply a Wild West Steampunk subculture. But, before I continue this rant, it might be prudent for me to explain what Steampunk is for those readers who haven’t heard of it.
Steampunk started out as a subgenre to science fiction, but grew into a living and growing subculture. Some Steampunk groups are based on the 19th Century British Victorian Era, while others lean more toward the American Wild West. Both groups focus on the industrialization era, but from an alternative post-apocalyptic period. Or, as some put it, from a retro-futuristic era.
While some Hollywood companies will attempt to borrow from the artistic look and feel of the subculture, there is a deeper heart that can’t be reproduced by mega business machines. The reason is simple: Steampunk is made up of creatives and thinkers who are into their own variety of steam punkery that they create or come upon in their life journey. In other words, Steampunks can’t be bought, nor are they impressed with “the man’s” fake punkery trying to be pushed on others.
The Steampunk culture is growing more secure and is being played out worldwide. This lifestyle brings with it a great deal of respect for each individual. Steampunks find ways to stand on his or her own two feet and create the tools needed for their personal entertainment and benefit. It’s no wonder that most Steampunks are artists, musicians, performers and other “strange” folk who think and create to fulfill the needs in their own life.
Most of the Steampunks that I’ve met have shared readily from their life journey and willingly learn any little thing that might help them and their communities. They are not into big brother, as they prefer the power to be local where their own intelligence can make a difference based on their community’s needs.
Most Steampunks can be found working for small companies or freelancing in teams. This matches the growing trend in corporate America where a group of small businesses come together for a major project, then once completed, will disband and regroup with another set of small businesses to accomplish something else. Even in the film industry we’re seeing numerous production companies coming together to make bigger films than what they could do on their own.
There are other key elements that play out in every Steampunk group, but I’d like to limit this article to Hollywood’s attempt at creating fake punkery. Just because something aesthetically looks like Steampunk, doesn’t make it Steampunk. Disney is known for its Steampunk Nautilus and Warner Brothers for its Steampunk filled Wild Wild West movie, both of which fit the industrialization Wild West America motif, but neither has the heart or understanding of what makes Steampunks who they are. Hollywood just doesn’t get it.
One of my favorite Steampunk websites, which truly lives up to true punkery in every sense, is Aurelia – Now in its second season. Created by a true Steampunk, Lisa England, the show is fully interactive in order to attract authentic Steampunks. The entire site is based on the thinkers and creators who participate. A single Hollywood type of person didn’t create it, but instead it was developed by a group of Steampunks doing what they do, and being who they are.
If it had been molded by Hollywood, it wouldn’t be authentic. If it were pushed by corporate America, it couldn’t be called Steampunk. This subculture is a grassroots movement that is embraced by Millennials, who already live lives consistent with Steampunks. The movement will therefore continue to grow and expand into the work world – Driving the development of more boutique sized companies.
Regardless, Hollywood will still attempt to put on their best false fronts in presenting some form of Victorian Steampunk, but they will also be confused when it flops. We’ve already heard the Hollywood issues with the faith based film subculture, which proved that Hollywood just doesn’t get it.