Dear Dr. Boli: It has not escaped notice that many of our youths are re-adopting Victorian norms of dress and other conduct. They call it “steampunk.” What do you say about this remarkable development? Particularly I wish to know, is it a gas? Or will the whole thing just boil over? —Sincerely, C. Simon.

Dear Sir or Madam: It is indeed something of a satire on the mores of our time that the only way young people of today can shock their elders is by dressing properly and speaking with scrupulously correct diction. Some of them have gone so far as to study and practice the norms of social etiquette. Dr. Boli understands that these things are intended only to shock and annoy us; but he prefers to judge our young people by their fruits, and finds the “steampunk” fashion particularly fruity. It is a strange sensation to look on these well-dressed, well-behaved young men and women—something rather like waking up from an enormously destructive hurricane to find that a pile of unsorted lumber has been blown together into a tolerably attractive house. If sometimes the details need a little polishing up, one is nevertheless astonished at how much of the work is already done.

So much for the “steampunk” fashion of today. As to the question of its permanence, Dr. Boli regrets to say that it is only a fad, and as such must vanish, like the fads for crinoline or raccoon coats that Dr. Boli has watched come and go. The children of the “steampunk” generation will have to resort to still more radical ways of shocking their elders, such as driving within the speed limit or not getting tattoos.


  1. Having seen the ’50s come back in the ’70’s, the ’60’s come back in the ’80’s, the ’70’s come back in the ’90’s, and the ’80’s come back in the Noughties, the only thing that surprises me about the 1890’s coming back in the 2010’s is that it breaks the well-established pattern of nostalgia for 20 years ago.

    Of course, the only thing that really ANNOYS me about the current craze for Victoriana is that we seem to have gone whole-hog and gotten ourselves our very own Colonial Conflicts. I just hope Petraeus and company make up their minds over whether they’re re-enacting the Boer War or Gordon’s defeat at Khartoum. At least we have plenty of time left in the decade for a nostalgic re-visiting of the good old days of the Boxer Rebellion and the 99 Days At Peking.

  2. Buff Rodman says:

    Well, Dr. Boli – perhaps you were just really busy in the 1980s to have missed this. First off, Steampunk isn’t really a fashion trend in and of itself. Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction/alt history writing that imagines an industrial revolution of the Victorian age with out a fast jump to electricity. Along with the writing goes a very large and creative body of visual art. Steampunkish fashion is just an outgrowth from that. It was a lot more popular in the 80s than now, has since died down a bit, but never died out completely. It is old enough now to have it’s own sub-sub-genres. I think a “steampunk generation” would be a little hard to nail down since it is popular across a wide age-range. And I suspect a goodly number of those interested in it are far more drawn to it’s fun-factor than it’s shock the elders potential.

    • Parker Smith says:

      My dear Mr. Rodman –

      I am pleased to be able to inform you that your sense of humor has been seen in my neighborhood – I am sure you will be able to find it should you care to come by.

      I would advise haste if you have any concern for its welfare – it did not look healthy, and seemed to lack any great perceptive abilities.

  1. […] A Dreadful Fate Posted by mythusmage on 4 November 2011, 6:11 pm ASK DR. BOLI. « Dr. Boli’s Celebrated Magazine.. […]

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