News: Revisiting the Appeal of Steampunk in Light of Today's Tragic Shooting in Connecticut

Revisiting the Appeal of Steampunk in Light of Today's Tragic Shooting in Connecticut

This most recent school shooting, one of the worst in history, has devastated our country. That such an act can be performed not by a begrudged child, but by one or more adults, is nearly unthinkable.

And yet the idea of school shootings is far from new.

In fact, the Victorian era gave birth to the very idea of a school shooting. The first incident on record, in New York City on June 8, 1867, tells of a nameless 13-year-old boy who brought a pistol to school (without the knowledge of his parents) and shot a classmate. That classmate was only injured, but it was the first of many more to come.

However, it's not until the 1927 school bombing which killed 45 that we begin to see the sort of multiple-casualty spree-killings that often occur today. Before that, attacks were largely one-on-one grudges, such as when Will Guess shot his little sister's teacher, Irene Fann, in 1887 for whipping her at school.

Those days appear to be gone. Now the mentality is "take as many with me as I can", which may or may not be indicative of a larger sickness in our society. The fact that today's tragedy is only one of many such incidents means that we, as a society, have had to come to terms with it. Is it any wonder, then, that people find the past in many ways more appealing?

Let me make something clear: this is not a question of technology or better guns. A revolver with six bullets is easily capable of shooting six people, and revolvers became popular between 1850 and 1860, which predates all known school shootings. So we're not talking about a technological difference, but an ideological difference between then and now. Something has changed in the way we view the world, and many people find that idea thoroughly distasteful.

Steampunk is in many ways like a History buffet; people will pick and choose what they like and leave the rest—for example, you don't see many Steampunks dressing up as characters with incurable syphilis—but this is one of the things that many people take from the buffet, the sense of respect for other people that seems to now be gone from modern society.

I've said before that Steampunk is primarily about the present rather than the past, and I don't mean to imply in this article that Steampunks go to the past in order to escape the present. To the contrary, I believe that they bring the past to the present in order to correct some of the ills of society, at least insofar as they are able. Steampunk is a reaction to those things that are wrong with our society, but it doesn't fight them by restricting gun laws, or by petitioning for metal detectors at schools.

It fights them by bringing back a sense of wonder to the world, of respect and civility. It shows people that there's more to life than just being born and dying, and that's something that we need more of. Not just from Steampunk, either, but from the world at large.

But in light of all that, Is it really any wonder that people see the appeal of Steampunk?

6 Comments

IMHO dude, a bit too soon for historical analysis. You know I love you dude but... Not right now...

As I told Diana earlier, I thought some perspective may help people in the Steampunk community deal with this tragedy. We, as a nation, are trying to come to grips with the idea that something like this exists. It happened, and that's really broken a lot of people.

I may not have the ear of the nation (and if I did, I would have written an entirely different article, believe me), but I do have the ear of the Steampunk community. If any other Steampunks are like me, it will help them to have a historical context, as well as to understand that what they do helps the world in some small way, even if it's just a small drop in a huge ocean.

In fact, just doing the research for this article helped me cope with it, personally. I can only hope that others feel the same way.

Believe me, I absolutely did not want to offend anyone, and I'm extremely sorry if anyone is.

I know you enjoy pontificating about steampunk here and on Reddit. Fine. But to try to drive readership by making the most tenuous of connections between steampunk and a huge national tragedy shows everyone just how desperate you are for attention. No one, in the steampunk community or elsewhere, needs this type of perspective.

Wow, I just wrote a really long, thoroughly heartfelt response, and the site ate it. T_T

Essentially what it said was that I've left the post up because the positive responses have thus far outweighed the negative (to the contrary of your statement that no one needs it).

However, if that changes, I'll take the post down and issue an apology, because I understand that even when you have the best of intentions, it's still possible to be wrong.

The sad fact is that anyone can be wrong, no matter how right they think they are, or how pure their motives were. I am certainly no exception. So I count on people like yourself to let me know when you think I've gone too far, or stepped wrong.

So believe it or not, I actually very much appreciate your comment. Thank you. =)

I got to admit i agree with the other commentators. Tenuous is right; to the point of being absolutely unrelated. Its about as relevant as if i were to write an article on the appeal of eating Brussels sprouts in light of the tragic shooting. The historical tidbits were interesting, however. But trying to put

the appeal of steampunk in to this context; just comes off as random and completely off-topic. No worries though, my intention isn't to complain or put down this site. While I'm new to it, and not very involved in steampunk, I do enjoy both.

Thanks for posting this. I feel for the people effected by the shooting. It did not happen in my state but I do have a 5 year old son who is in Kindergarten. I feel for all of these people. I am one of those people that always look back into history, If we do not know our past how can we help our future and possibly try to prevent a tragedy like this again. My sons school has started a new line of procedures just to get into the school if you are not a student or an employee. I commend all the educators for trying their best to keep our children safe.

Thanks again for the article

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