This Is Dieselpunk
Eric Renderking Fisk | June 9th, 2017
It’s been a long time coming, my explanation of what “Dieselpunk” is and why it’s the most important genre of them all. And since I’ve been asked this question a lot, I have a lot of practice and because of the work I’ve done, I’ve become an accidental authority on what is, and what isn’t dieselpunk. I’ve been a dieselpunk long before there ever was a word “dieselpunk,” and I’ve seen many other names for it come and go along the way, too. But for now, since "Dieselpunk" is the name of whatever “this” is, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to switch anytime soon.
So, here it is - the answer to the question, "What Is Dieselpunk?"
According to Wikipedia;
“Dieselpunk is a genre like that of its more well-known cousin "steampunk" that combines the aesthetics of the diesel-based technology of the interwar period through to the 1950s with retro-futuristic technology and postmodern sensibilities.”
Wikipedia continues to define it under “origins:”
The name "dieselpunk" is a derivative of the 1980s science fiction genre cyberpunk, and is used to represent the time period - or "era" - from the interwar period until the 1950s, when diesel-based locomotion was the main technological focus of Western culture. The "-punk" suffix attached to the name is representative of the counterculture nature of the genre with regards to its opposition to contemporary aesthetics. The term also refers to the tongue-in-cheek name given to a similar cyberpunk derivative, "steampunk," which focuses on science fiction based on industrial steam power and which is often set within the Victorian era.”
Because it's from Wikipedia, folks seem to think that's "the" definition. but what we really need is the defninition from an actual Dieselpunk like Andrew Gearwood from Dieselpunk HQ.
We're in luck, because this is waht he has to say:
"Dieselpunk is a contemporary retrofuturist movement that takes its inspiration from the first half of the 20th century and mixes in anachronistic and/or advanced technologies to create a new imagined speculative and fictional alternative world view."
But from all the reading, writing, and observations I've made over the years I've discovered that Dieselpunk is whatever you or I say it is, so long as it reflects retro-futuristic elements of the 20’s, 40’s and sometime around the mid-50’s.
For myself and The Fedora Chronicles: Dieselpunk is simply maintaining the style aesthetic of the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, and the absolute cut off is somewhere between the start or the mid-50’s. Anything more than that, and you’re over-complicating it. Dieselpunk is maintaining any style aspect of that specific period of human history and what you want to intertwine in your life is totally up to you.
From there, we have two extremes of Dieselpunk: The Naturalist Dieselpunk and The Retrofuturist Dieselpunk.
- The Naturalist Dieselpunk are those of us who wear authentic vintage clothes or faithful reproductions of clothes of the Jazz Style Era.
- The Retro futurist Dieselpunk are those of us who are enthusiasts of ‘what the future was’ in that era and try to recreate that style and produce the “SF” elements into everyday life.
Here are are some other examples of how you might be dieselpunk...
- Those people who are really into the alternate history of The Jazz Style Year? Dieselpunk.
- Some of you folks who are into the safari gear look of those decades and incorporate elements of that in your everyday wardrobe now in the 21st Century? Dieselpunk.
- All those folks who are into the military look of uniforms, military machines, and World War 2 paraphernalia and interweave those items into their everyday life? Dieselpunk.
- Guys and gals who like to dress-up in period suits and dresses and go to swing or Big Band concerts, and love to do that more than anything else? Dieselpunk.
- Any and all aspects of someone’s life where they’re trying to recreate their world as if the style of the 20’s through the 40’s never left… with all due respect to Jeff Foxyworth… You might be a dieselpunk.
- In fact, if you’ve ever worn a fedora and vintage style suit or mere leather jacket with your modern clothes, and you’ve ever wondered if you’re the only one or if there are more people out there, you might be a dieselpunk.
Dieselpunk is more than a mere style or pursuing a specific aesthetic as well.
The "punk" aspect of Dieselpunk is an act of passive aggression against the modern establishment that dictates to everyone what you can and cannot wear. More specifically, the people who write the ridiculous “What’s in, what’s out” articles in fashion magazines that range from Esquire, Maxim, Playboy… and the countless other rags published for women. Dieselpunk is especially against the women’s fashion rags that dictate everything old is bad and everything new is good – and everything that’s good now will be bad in a few short weeks. We are openly against the self-appointed authority in a fashion industry that expects us to throw out all our clothes we bought last season and spend a fortune on this seasons fashions, only to throw out this season's fashions when this one is over and the next season arrives. We will not bow or paly alms to the cult of “The Catwalk.”
Dieselpunk is the declaration of war against the establishment that demands conformity. It’s a solid punch in the face towards people that demand that we dress a specific way and kneel before the altar of hyper-consumerism, Dieselpunk is the full-blown repudiation against aspects of modern society that demeans and belittle those of us who know that “new” doesn’t always mean “better” in their attempt to blame us for not constantly updating to the latest model while blaming us for the technological oligarchy’s profit losses.
If you haven’t’ guessed yet, there is – or there should be – an anti-authoritarian element of dieselpunk. As dieselpunks, we reject the notion of there being any self-appointed ‘leader’ or authority of this genre and counter-culture movement.
Dieselpunk is also a celebration of rugged individualism from the aforementioned time; not so that we can live like hermits but so that we can be greater contributors to the dieselpunk community. The stronger we are as individual dieselpunks, the better the dieselpunk community.
One of the most important aspects to remember when discussing what is or what isn’t dieselpunk is that this debate is one of the most popular activities among dieselpunks. My definition of Dieselpunk is meant to me to be more inclusive and allows a “big tent” approach to making sure that nobody is the dieselpunk communities feel excluded or left out. Other dieselpunks are more restrained in what the word means and what the genre is to them or what it should be to everyone else.
Dieselpunk is Dieselpunk and will remain so as artists, writers, builders and all other creators of any material incorporate the style aesthetic of that era into their projects and products.
Now, what is your definition of "dieselpunk?"