Friday, December 16, 2011

So Bieber did a Steampunk Video. Get Over It.

Okay.  I've been seeing a lot of crap going around about Justin Bieber's Steampunk Christmas Video, and peripherally, because Macy's in New York decided to do a steampunk Christmas display. 
Shot from Justin Bieber's "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" video
Part of the Macy's Christmas window in New York
Get over it, people.  Bieber can do whatever he wants.  He hasn't murdered steampunk.  In the Gawker site's snide blurb, Justin Bieber Ruins Entire Nerd Subculture With New Christmas Video, they conclude: "Sorry, steampunks: time to get a new quirky aesthetic pastime before it blows up among 14-year-old Beliebers."  Um.  No.  Well, actually, if Bieber's involvement is enough to chase you away ... fine.  Go.  Please.  If you're afraid some teeny-boppers may get involved ... then I guess your steampunk time is done.  Leave now.  If you just participate in steampunk because you want to feel like you're part of some private little clique, and you think you'll wither and burn because "your" subculture is given some mainstream limelight, then please, go find some other reclusive little subculture to hide in, where you can feel all special and unique until it hits the mainstream. 

However, if you're really into steampunk, well, you'll still be into Steampunk despite Bieber.  Or Macy's.  You're into steampunk because at least some portion of it appeals to you (and it doesn't matter what part).  Steampunk entering the mainstream shouldn't scare you off.  New people getting involved in steampunk, even just temporarily, as a fad, is not the death knell, people.  If it's just as a fad, they'll leave.  If they take to it, well, we've got more people!  How is either option bad? 

Personally, I don't care that Bieber was either intrigued enough, or savvy enough, to do a steampunk video.  He's in business to succeed.  (And the boy's pretty darn popular, so maybe now I won't have to try explain steampunk to so many people, since he just threw it into the limelight.)  And you don't have to like the lad, or what he does.  But he hasn't killed steampunk.  I'm not a Bieber fan, by any stretch of the imagination, but his video is entertaining, except for the very distracting sporadic cartoon clips that don't fit at all.  The dancing is excellent, the costumes are good, and I love the windup dancer.  The set is pretty nifty - and how can you not steampunk Santa's workshop?  And kudos to Ian Finch-Field of SkinzNHydez for having his armpiece used on the video, because of his quality work. (And I daren't get into what I think of the jealous whiners who kvetched on about the artist "selling out", as it will cause my language to decline radically!)  So the music is a pop version of a Christmas tune ... why is that bad, but hardcore industrial music is "approved of" by some unknown entity, for steampunk?  So far, no one has managed to reasonably define steampunk MUSIC. 

I don't know why so many steampunks are freaking out about this, and seeing the apocalypse in Bieber doing steampunk and the potential movement into mainstream.  Though I do suspect it's the same small noisy population you find in all walks of life, that snobbish percentage that has to feel they're unique, because they're part of a unique community who all does the same thing ... really?  Think about that for a minute.  

I see way too much snobbery in steampunk these days, and it's ticking me off.  I've heard steampunks disapprove of how people dress (see previous post), I've even seen steampunks ignore folks because they don't fit their image of steampunk people (NO, you don't have to be young or pretty or slim or some obscure definition of "cool" to be steampunk).

If you're unique, you're unique.  I'm not unique because of who I hang out with, or how I dress, or because like making things, or because I'm into steampunk.  I just am.  The steampunk is just a symptom of how it's all coming out.  If other people are getting twigged into the stuff I'm into ... AWESOME!  More people to play with.  How is this bad?

So come on people.  Really.  Get over Bieber being steampunk.  Get over Macy's Christmas display being steampunk (man I wish I could see that in person instead of just seeing pictures here!)  Or, just get out.  And leave steampunk to those of us who really enjoy it.

Thank you.


  1. I agree, it's not the end. I think with almost any youth subculture, it would be, or at least mark the end of the glory days - but the key thing is that Steampunk is NOT a youth subculture. This really crystalized for me when I went to Steamcon. It has such a cross-demographic appeal - I saw some elegant old ladies, tweens, 20 and 30-somethings, middle age married couples, and whole families - all being wonderfully enthusiastic and creative. I think a subculture with strong DNA can go on almost indefinitely. I knew Steampunk had really broken into a broader cultural awareness Roger Ebert mentioned it in a movie review a few years ago... yet things are still going, er, full steam ahead.

  2. Thank you for writeing this! I agree with you 100%! And yes - congrats to SkinzNHydez, that was awesome to see in the video! :D

  3. Thank you for writing this and your post on costuming snobbery. I'm definitely in the "not serious" category--I like a number of steampunk books, have always loved Victorian manners and books, and adore the aesthetic of steampunk but don't have the time or patience to devote hours/massive money toward costuming myself. Seeing that there are those who are ok with that, makes it a bit less intimidating to take a look and explore.

  4. Thank you, Bethany. I'm very much in steampunk for FUN - life's too short to have a hobby I don't enjoy. I hope you have luck getting into costuming - it definitely doesn't have to be expensive or involve hours of sewing (tho it can if you want it to!). And don't listen to anyone who tells you otherwise! Feel free to keep peeking back here ... now that my life has relaxed, I hope to do more sewing, and therefore, more "how I made it" posts. I'm planning to attempt a full on "how to costume in a thrift store" post at some point, but that will take some time to do all the background work.