The Harlot of Steampunk Babylon
Eric Renderking Fisk | July 11th, 2017
If there’s only two things I need you to understand after reading this rant, it’s that every time a group has a leader with a messiah complex it always ends badly for the group in general, and there’s a reason why I keep asking to define and redefine our principals and definitions repeatedly. I don’t want you to mistake me as being one of those members with a messiah complex in any of the aforementioned groups.
In every group, there is always that one scumbag who tries to pass himself or herself off as “the expert.” There is one person out there that passes themselves off as the arbitrator of what is or isn’t a thing. At first might be good natured because this person wants to preserve the ‘purity’ of the genre. But then there is that moment when that person reveals themselves as a degenerate con-artist who seems to believe that they’re going to exploit a counter-culture movement, religious sect, fandom, or just a mere fad for their own greed or status.
Sooner or later there’s that ONE person in the group who thinks they can maneuver themselves as the “god” or the “king” or “queen” of this thing. And that often marks the end of all the fun and games and that group collapses into an all-out war between the faithful group leaders who try to hold everything together and the members who won’t put up with the leader’s new vision of ‘perfection and purity.’
The best example is literally the pastor at the bottom of my hill who said that his thoughts and opinions must be MY thoughts and opinions. I must adopt all his believes, likes and dislikes, and buy into everything thing he says and thinks if I want eternal life in the kingdom of heaven.
And this guy believed that he had to become the head of everyone’s household. He had to help you decide your budget, your career, how you disciplined your children… And there were people at this church who would cry on the phone “why can’t you just submit to pastor!”
This is one of the reasons why I left that church. That, and anyone in his inner sanctum could screw up their own lives and commit the most unforgivable sins and then brought back into leadership positions because “she’s been anointed by the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed for our sins on Calvary” while the rest of us had to go through hoops just to have our lives “sanctioned” by the same ridiculous people who bought into the pastors new vision of ‘perfection and purity.’
Then there was the epic arguements, an exudos of one small group, then more epic arguements, and another exudos of another small group...
“But Eric!” I can hear you yell, “That’s one mere example! That’s just one bad church. that's not the entire retroverse? That's not the whole paranormal community! That's not all of Cosplay? That's not all of dieselpunk!”
Sorry, folks – I wish that was true. That is the most extreme version of the same pattern I’ve witnessed too many times in my life. Name anything that I’ve enjoyed, every group I’ve belonged to, and I'll share with you a story about how there was this guy or gal who reveals themselves to be that “charismatic, wicked pastor” that wants you to submit to their authority.
Cosplay groups, film noir groups, classic movie groups, (obviously religions groups…) I could go on… there are those folks out there who want to become “the go-to” person and dictate to everyone else what does or does not belong.
Which brings me to The Harlot of Steampunk Babylon: After I wrote the rant “Requiem for Steampunk” there were people who came to me with their own anecdotes after they read this passage:
Non-conformists, policing the non-conformists who are even more non-conforming then those who are acting as the “Steampunk” police!
The perfect example I can think of now is how some of the self-appointed police in the “Steampunk Community” is treating “The Original Girls of Steampunk” Kevin Serres and how some purity activists are trying to ban him from Facebook (again… and again…. And eventually make that ban permeant…) and constantly reporting images displayed in that group for being too “NSFW” or not steampunk enough.
And then, there are those who are trying to cash-in and trademark the genre and the movement as their own. That's a rant in its own.
It seemed like everyone knew who I was talking about, and everyone had their own experiences they wanted to share and wanted me to publish their own anecdotes. But they wanted me to publish them anonymously because this person has a reputation for being litigious.
As a result, there are people who have quit the community/groups where this woman has shown up and has eventually taken over. Once she shows up laying down the law on how she’s the one who determines what’s “steampunk” and how everyone in the “steampunk community” owes her because she’s made the genre ‘legitimate,’ there are those who flee that community/group and I have my doubts if those groups survive. And there are those who abandon the hobby all together thanks to that behavior, and when loose them it diminishes all of us.
But there are those among us who see her “success” and believe they can also ‘cash in’ on their favorite group, too!
These groups that we enjoy have this thing in common, they’re all in jeopardy of being ruined by that one person with delusions of grandeur who believe that the world (or whatever higher power they believe in) should be anointed our “holy one” The are those people who believe that you owe them your “respect” and submit to their “authority.” You need to adopt that person’s definition of what is or isn’t “this thing,” and if you contradict him or her in public, or question that man or woman’s authority there’s going to be trouble.
Last week, a self-appointed leader showed his true colors by demanding that I apologize for my definition of what’s “Dieselpunk” he was going to bring down the entire temple around our heads.
… This is the same character who insisted that he help by “partnering” with me and take over a certain aspect of The Fedora Chronicles to make sure I “got it right.”
Dieselpunk, the rest of the /punk movements is an anti-authority movement. What part of “anti-authoritarian” movement does this person understand? We are against the current establishment that demands everything be “this way,” so what makes people like that think we won’t revolt when they try to do the same thing?
When there are people who try to assert their authority in an anti-authority movement, there is bound to be some open rebellion. The fact that anyone couldn’t see that coming just reaffirms there are more than a couple of screws lose. For this reason - anyone with a messiah complex in these punk movements should be automatically shunned and banned, immediately.
Which is why I make sure you know I’m no expert and why I keep my definitions open. This is one of the reasons why I keep asking “is this right?” and “what do you think?” and “How is this dieselpunk?” I never want you folks to confuse me with one of these charismatic self-appointed cult leaders handing out the punch, demanding that you adopt my thoughts and options as your own. What I write here is my own guide-lines and they’re free for you to use if you choose. I’m also leaving the door open for you to send me your own text and images to host here on the Chronicles.
There is no room for elitism in these groups, especially these retrocentric gangs who are, anti-modernists against this current oligarchy. Shun the self-appointed leaders, especially the wolves in dieselpunk/retrocentric clothing.