Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Arizona Blogger Tries to Foist Her Fashion Sense On Wild West Con Goers

The following is my own comment on an online version of  The Phoenix New Times culture blog called Jackalope Ranch.  The article is titled:

Seven Overdone Steampunk Fashions at the Wild Wild West Con


Categories: Don't Wear That, Fashion
You can see the full article on their web site at:
(note that there were over 90 comments on their site within a few days and they were almost all angry and very critical of the content, delivery, and intentions of the article's writer) 



I will not quote any of the actual article, but suffice to say that, while Ms. D'Andrea does shed some interesting light on what the average outside observer likes, dislikes, or thinks is just ... well ... to use her words "overdone" at this or any "Steampunk" event, her approach seems to be more based on trying to fit the blog category which is actually labeled, believe it or not, "Don't wear that fashion", than attempting to offer any sort of useful feedback that could possibly be expected to be received in a positive way.   It almost reads as though she feels pressured to find things to "trash" as though that is what she feels she is being paid to do.  Note that, she also praises many things as well, but the level of items she praises, while they are indeed the best of our work, are generally items created by acknowledged professional craftsmen and entertainers (I personally know some of these people and recognize their work) rather than giving serious feedback on the do-it-yourself efforts of new members of our community.  That would be rather like saying if you can't afford to buy "Gucci" or to design and create your own fashions at that level, then don't ever leave your home.

While I recognize that taking an objective look at what outsiders, with apparently very limited knowledge or understanding of the real underlying motivations and agendas of the Steampunk sub-culture and social movement is extremely valuable, especially to steampunk designers like myself, it is not helpful to them or to yourself to go out of your way to trash ... well ... anything that a person actually tries to do themselves.  In the age of international corporations trying to grind the populace of the world down into mindless little zombie workers that have no original thoughts, skills, or interests other than loyal service to their masters, the "Steampunk" movement encourages people to reject typical fashion aesthetics, including those of the "Victorian era", and develop themselves as a person by re-awakening any trace of craft skills they previously had and any form of original creative thoughts they might possess, then develop them (often through trial and error, but also through classes and education), not just to impress other people, but more importantly, to make them feel alive again!  We are much more interested in valiant efforts to do something themselves, than we are in what any fashion critic has to say about anything.  As such, if that part of the equation is lost in the blog or review, then you missed the point of the event entirely.

On the other hand, a comparison can be drawn here between, say, the Aztec Conchero/Mexica dancing my wife and I have been a part of, where the real goal is to not only revive and share the wisdom and traditions of the past, but to fight the good fight against intolerance and prejudicial destruction or oppression of those ideas.  Part of that fight is studying and learning what outsiders and newcomers find most attractive int hat culture, as whatever attracts them and holds their interest, entertains them, or garners their respect, will make the outsiders much more receptive to the underlying message of respect for the ancient wisdom and ancient ways.  The "Steampunk" movement really is a social movement to re-awaken artistry and original thought as well as to use that to effect change on what is truly becoming a dystopian and very deteriorated world destroyed by greed and the desire to grind everything down into mediocrity.  As such, we need objective and third party observations in order for, at least those working regularly in the arts and entertainments areas as "Steampunk Performers" like myself, to help us consider more effective ways to reach people outside our community better as well as those within.

I would suggest; however, that Ms. D'Andrea consider refraining from use of terms or phrases that tend to make someone feel embarrassed, rather than proud, to have others see their first efforts at the do-it-yourself crafts that we so strongly encourage, or you will quickly find yourself, and any that pretend to be in our own community with those attitudes, rapidly pushed out and ostracized by serious "Steampunks" that will not tolerate such behaviors toward those courageous enough to try to learn and grow in such a public way.

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