Did IBM kill Steampunk’s 15 minutes of fame?

Mira Furlan, Trevor Crafts, Bruce Boxleitner, Tony Amendola, and Raphael Sbarge at HRM Steampunk Symposium
Mira Furlan, Trevor Crafts, Bruce Boxleitner, Tony Amendola, and Raphael Sbarge at HRM Steampunk Symposium

According to Google Statistics, Steampunk made a steady rise in popularity from 2007 to the end of 2012.  On January 14, 2013, IBM announced that, “‘steampunk,’ a sub-genre inspired by the clothing, technology and social mores of Victorian society, will be a major trend to bubble up, and take hold, of the retail industry. Major fashion labels, accessories providers and jewelry makers are expected to integrate a steampunk aesthetic into their designs in the coming year.”

Many of the Steampunk fans who took note of IBM’s statements were excited that it was poised to permeate the art and fashion of our modern society.  However that does not seem to be the case.

For those who like statistics and watch charts, if you look at the Google chart showing interest in the topic based on the Google Statistics, it appears that interest in Steampunk peaked out in October of 2012 and only reached that same peak once in October of 2013.  Looking at the chart today, October 9, 2014, it is at 91% of its peak.  It looks as though it may not reach the peak that it hit the two previous Octobers.

When watching the charts for buying and selling stocks it is advisable to buy when it is low and sell when it is high and one might think that IBM picked up on the peak of Steampunk and “bought into” it then when it was at its peak and it was just a poor understanding of the charts.

Alternatively, in this case the observer may well have effected the results based on their prediction.  They may well have been correct in predicting that the fashion world was about to embrace the Steampunk art and fashion but when they announced it as fact, they may have adversely impacted the trend.

How could IBM impact a social, art, and fashion trend?  To be quite blunt, IBM is known for its innovations in technology, not fashion.  Fashionistas create the trends and for them to be “predicted” would not set well with them.

With IBM, whose reputation is stereotypic of a nerd in a suit with a pocket protector, predicting a fashion trend, it wouldn’t be surprising for fashionistas to drop any plans that they had in favor of most anything else.

Did IBM’s prediction deal a blow to Steampunk fans?  Not really.  While their prediction may have diverted the fashionistas from letting it become IBM’s expected bubble, it did not kill nor even damage Steampunk as a fandom.

The truth of the matter is that Steampunk fans tend to be more strongly individualistic and mostly don’t care what IBM has to say about their fandom.  They also tend to be artists, writers, costumers, creators and innovators of many fields.  Is the average steampunk fan upset that the fashionistas have, apparently dropped out of the fandom?  By no means!  Steampunk is known for quality and creativity, not cheap, mass produced trinkets.

IBM’s prediction may have brought Steampunk to a plateau in what had been a rapid rise but the genre has some major fans, alot to offer, and much still in the works.   Bruce Boxleitner (Tron, Tron II, Babylon 5, and many other works) and his partner Trevor Crafts are working towards a Steampunk television series, Lantern City.  Jimmy Diggs (screenwriter noted for his scripts from Star Trek: Voyager and Deep Space Nine) is developing his creation, “The Crypto-Historians.”  With the lovely Susan Downey producing the third Sherlock Holmes movie, it is likely she will be able to pursuade her husband to reprise his role as Sherlock to the delight of Steampunk, Sherlock Holmes, and Robert Downey Jr. fans.

Author Leonardo Ramirez is working on an animated short based on his Jupitor Chronicles which will be steampunk fun for kids.  Grant Wilson, of Ghost Hunters stepped down from the show to start a gaming company, Rather Dashing Games, with his childhood friend, Michael Richie and they have steampunk projects.  Pop Haydn, World Class Magician and winner of several Magician of the Year awards at Hollywood’s Magic Castle, amazes and entertains his audience with his steampunk style.

So, while IBM and the fashionistas may have created a plateau in what had been a steady rise, the genre still hasn’t lost its, well, you know…  Steam!

More about National Art, National Music, and National Steampunk Examiner John N. Collins

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About the author

Weird AKA John Collins

John N. Collins is a writer, photographer, game & coloring book designer and a bad dancer. Any resemblance to the King John character is merely a coincidence. Follow John N. Collins: YouTube Facebook Fan Page Facebook Personal Account Instagram Twitter