Monday, December 1, 2014

Steampunk in our Pop Culture and the Influence of Nostalgia.

I think the "Steampunk Culture" in our society is so interesting and I was actually pretty surprised when I found out that it was part of our curriculum for the Media & Society course. It's interesting how this movement has become such a phenomenon in certain communities and how it has created its own small subcategories of pop culture.

Last January, the DSU Theatre department did a production of Hedda Gabler, a play written by Henrik Ibsen that takes place in 1896 (right during the Victorian ages). The story has very dark themes, so the director decided that he wanted his concept to be "steampunk" with "lots of jewel tones and gears." One of my friends who was the costume designer listened to his concept and tried to create a more steampunk version of Victorian fashion. This included some very nontraditional Victorian things, like exposed corsets and short hair on women. The main character, Hedda, is the one who showed the most steampunk in her look, because she is the darker more serious character of the play.

Here is a production shot that shows Hedda's costume (sitting on couch).

I find it interesting that the director went with this Steampunk concept in a show that already takes place in the Victorian era. It just goes to show how steampunk has become its own time and style that is inspired or reflected off of an actual time period.

I am personally not a huge fan of the Victorian era, because the first thing I think of is the lack of personal hygiene, but this era has influenced an entire population of people who have created something new from it. There are many other eras that are romanticized and that have produced their own following, for example there are fans of the Regency era (Jane Austen) who romanticize that time in history and try to live that way as well. There are also people who romanticize the "roaring 20s" or the 50s and have created their own style of living that adheres to the ideals and styles of that time period.

I find that especially today, our generation is so influenced by nostalgia and the past. I find this most evident in the clothing of today. The interesting thing about fashion is the change of silhouette. In the past, most decades or eras are pretty defined by their silhouette in clothing, but if we were to give a single silhouette that defined the fashion of today, it would be nearly impossible. Dress styles from the 50s and 60s are becoming much more fashionable and everyone is all about "vintage" clothing and shopping from thrift stores. It seems that as we move into the future, our styles are moving back into the past.

Here are some funny clips that kind of parody the "Steampunk" style and type of person:

And here is a Vimeo link to the second video since I couldn't find it on youtube:
Key & Peele "Steampunk Skit"


  1. I really liked this post, and I agree with a lot of the things said about the Victorian era and how in SteamPunk it is romanticized as this great time when in reality it wasn't all that great. I find it kind of funny how, like Grace stated, we love to romanticize how great ,not just Victorian times were, but other times like the 20's were. A really good example of a movie that romanticizes the roaring 20's is The Great Gatsby. I really liked both the book and the movie but I just find it so interesting that instead of living in the now we as a society romanticize the past, I feel like if we didn't do this we could be a lot more productive, looking to the future instead of the past.

  2. A great example of the influence of Nostalgia would be the movie "Midnight in Paris." The entire movie is about how each generation thinks that the time before theirs was the best. It's a great movie that puts things into perspective for those who romanticize the past so much and it's also just a wonderful movie!