Monday, February 11, 2013
Destination - Nowhere
It seems like all I've been hearing about for the past two weeks is the upcoming Portlandia Steampunk episode that features the Rose City Steampunks, Local 23, a group which I formed and was eventually kicked out of (read my previous post for details). Apparently those who participated in this endeavor were extremely proud of their work, and by all accounts this was going to be the television show that would set Hollywood on its ear and announce to the world "Steampunk has Arrived!". The infamous episode finally aired on Friday, Feb.8 at 10 p.m. on IFC, which I don't get since I don't subscribe to cable. I had to wait two entire days with bated breath to witness the glory that had sadly passed me by. Finally, the "Steampunk Convention" clip was posted on the IFC website. I swallowed my pride and pressed "play"to begin the episode...
The sound you hear is crickets snoring.
This is obviously not the television event that is going to bring Steampunk to the unenlightened masses. Indeed, other than being dressed in Steampunk style outfits, the episode had little to nothing to do with Steampunk at all. The "plot" of the skit (if it can be called by so generous a name), involves a group of Steampunks at a convention who raid a panel on "fan fiction" to retrieve a renegade member who has 'gone over to the other side'. It could as well have been a group of anime fans trying to rescue a member who has gone over to the Star Trek fandom, or a group of Browncoats trying to convince a friend to leave the Star Wars universe behind. Any two nerd-culture fandoms would have sufficed. It seemed to me to be a skit poking fun at 'con nerds' more than anything else. The Steampunk part of it was just window dressing; a couple of prop rayguns and some ruffly clothes. To add insult to injury, none of the actual Steampunks were even remotely featured in the skit; they were not given lines to speak, nor parts to play other than 'oddly dressed extras who follow Carrie and Fred down the hall'.
I feel bad for my friends who participated, as I heard they put in a full eight hour day to end up with only a few minutes of screen time. I hope they at least had fun doing it. The episode, IMHO, is embarrassing to the Steampunk community as a whole as once again Steampunks are played for laughs as 'costumed weirdos'. Until we get a television show that is 'made by Steampunks, for Steampunks', I am afraid we will only be seeing more of the same. Steampunks, please think carefully before jumping on the next media bandwagon that comes along. It could just be a ticket to nowhere.