Can you spot the difference?
Unlike other rebellious popular movements, Steampunk is a movement of compromise.
This millennium has brought a smorgasbord of changes that have cast a pall of fear over our society, thicker than a London fog. New technologies are tripping over each other to get into our pockets, emerging ways of viewing gender identity and sexual orientation continue to baffle the mainstream, and the populations of people that were once considered ‘minorities’ are now statistically pushing the majority. In the past, we have associated popular movements with societal rebellion. Flappers, Beatniks, Hippies and Punks have all classified themselves as countercultural or alternative movements. But in this modern age of uncertainty, we should not be surprised that the Steampunk Movement emerges as one of open, friendly compromise.
Instead of rejecting the cultural norms of the past to create something new, we Steampunks are obsessed with innovating, upcycling, rethinking and repurposing those traditions. These themes are scattered throughout every expression of the movement, as we draw upon the style, technology, thought, and skillsets of the past to express ourselves. Because the idea of ‘rebelling’ requires the assumption that everyone in history acted in exactly the same manner; that we draw a line in the sand between what was, (as being pervasively 'wrong'), and what will be, (as being unilaterally 'better'). But Steampunks utterly reject such notions, preferring instead to deconstruct our perception of the past to show that it was actually a lot more diverse than our common textbook interpretation.
If we can find the rebellious, the risque, the ethnic, the freaky, the gender-bending, the experimental forgotten and tell their stories; then perhaps we can show the mainstream that changes we consider to be ‘modern’ have really been a part of who we are all along.
Only familiarity can drown fear and we endeavor to remember, reimagine and celebrate as much of history's diversity as we can.