I had a chance to chat with Brian Gardner, organizer of the upcoming Steamstock Festival, regarding the recent ‘Open Letter’ that’s been making it around the world of all things Steam and also Punk. At the end, Brian also shared a nice little bit of news that attendees of Steamstock will be very happy to hear.
Brian Gardner: Steampunk started as a literary movement and admittedly, I am not that avid of a reader. I tend to do audio or audio-visual communications like music, or deep conversations with people. As such, the reason I got into Steampunk was for the music, the dancing, and the society. So, in a lot of ways, the Goodreads issue doesn’t really affect me because it doesn’t come into music and dancing, but the “Open Letter” does come into society in that this issue is about what happens in our world when people say this or that is or isn’t a Steampunk book or a Steampunk band… or in a worst case say something or someone isn’t Steampunk.
If you’re bickering about labeling, then you’re bickering about the wrong thing. If somebody deleted a list of stuff, and it was in their purview to do so, then that was power the community gave them and in my opinion, what the community giveth, the community can taketh away.
The issue comes down to strict Definitionists and non-strict Definitionists. The strict ones are willing to say that we (non-strict definitionists) are wrong. We, on the other hand are not as willing to say they (the strict ones) are wrong because we don’t adhere to the same “right” versus “wrong” mindset.
So, when it comes right down to it, you’ve got one group saying ‘negative’ and the other group saying ‘zero,” and the sum is a negative because you’re reading and seeing all this negativity. There’s almost no problem with saying “this is Steampunk” but when you say “this isn’t” Steampunk, then you’ve made somebody wrong; and I think that’s where communities start going downhill and start to become less accepting.
There’s a lot of talk about the hypocrisy of the inclusion ideal in the Steampunk community, but in reality it’s not the community that is non-inclusive. The problem is that “the community doesn’t speak with one voice and when some people start drawing lines, it’s a lot easier to listen to them than it is to the people who are drawing less substantive distinctions. The end result is, because of the nature of the human mind to want to categorize, it unfortunately takes less people saying “that’s not Steampunk,” or “this is,” than it takes saying, “We’re an inclusive community.” Right up until the point where the inclusive people are willing to say that the non-inclusive subfaction is wrong… The irony is that it’s at that point that we become hypocrites.
- For that piece of exciting Steamstock news. Go ahead and take a looky-loo at THIS!