I promise more than an attempt at clever reference to my favorite sippin’ whiskey. But you go with what occurs to you in this business. So, onward.
The world of Steampunk continues to expand to include everything from Zynga games to manufactured Human Entertainment Products (aka: pop stars), and, as one might expect, the movement now echoes with cries of pity for the death of our poor abused friend who Neverwas. This is nonsense, of course, as there is no surer measure of a movement’s success and longevity than when it finds itself embraced by the mainstream. Any watering-down that may occur was inevitable to begin with. Aspects of the movement that are infected with Bieberitis or some other such deplorable malady were susceptible in the first place. The Bieber virus simply took advantage of a weakened immune system.
So how to avoid the coming plague? How to maintain the individuality and creativity that make Steampunk so appealing to so many?
Some fine discussions on this issue were presented by M Gabriel Colbaugh, who wrote on developing one’s persona and finding one’s place in the greater Steampunk community. For me, the place to start was a collection of PUMOs (Potentially Useful Metal Objects – credit for this coinage must be given to Mark McNutt, an Oregon-based astrologer I met in 1997).
I come from a line of men who worked with their hands. So when I stumbled into the world of Steampunk, the first thing I did was head for my workbench. I started combing through dross piles at the local charity shops, picking out candlesticks (Ooo, shiny!) and random metal items that I found suggestive of weaponry or gadgetry. I hunted around the local university campus for dropped bits of bicycle (this town I live in has no shortage of such effluvia). I also appealed to my wife’s patience when the collection of PUMOs began threatening to overwhelm our garage, though it hadn’t really reached that point. Yet.
The path towards individuality and creativity in Steampunk is the same path to joining any movement of art and artistry. Remain true to yourself, your roots, your interests and passions. Bring to the movement what only you can bring. Leave a maker’s mark, a costumer’s stitch, a writer’s wit. No amount of pubescent wailing about Santa Claus will ever tarnish your effort or the movement to which it belongs.