PUNK 101: Steampunk, Dieselpunk and a Three Year Old Genius!
“A guy walks up to me and asks ‘What’s Punk?’. So I kick over a garbage can and say ‘That’s Punk!’ So he kicks over a garbage can and says ‘That’s Punk?’, and I say ‘No that’s trendy!”
- Billie Joe Armstrong
Now that’s Steampunk!
On Sunday, my youngest daughter, ‘Yemi, who is three years old, was watching an episode of The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. with me and whenever Lord Bowler – one of the main characters on the show, played by the late Julius Carry (“Sho’ ‘Nuff, of The Last Dragon fame) – would do something exciting, she would shout: “Now that’s Steampunk right there!”
Curious, I asked her “What’s Steampunk, baby?”
She waited until Lord Bowler punched a guy and then she pointed at the screen and said “That!”
I put The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. on pause and then showed her the fight scene between Count Dooku and Yoda from Star Wars, Episode II. I asked her was it Steampunk and she said “No; Steampunk people don’t look like that.”
Even more curious, I showed her a scene from the Sherlock Holmes movie (the one starring Robert Downey, Jr., not Basil Rathbone – which I actually like the most) and said “This isn’t Steampunk, is it?”
‘Yemi stared at me in disbelief, placed her tiny fists on her hips and said “Now Daddy, you know that’s Steampunk”
Somehow, she gets it. Through listening to my conversations with my wife and students about Steampunk and through observing me as I research hundreds of photographs and newspaper clippings in doing research for my novel, Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman, she has internalized the aesthetics of Steampunk and has come up with actions that – to her, at least – are representative of the genre.
I have thus decided to formalize her study of Steampunk, Steamfunk and all the other “offspring” of that rather fertile mother / father – Cyberpunk. I now share with you her syllabus.
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