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Are you Dieselpunk or Steampunk?

5 min read

Welcome vaporist, I've been waiting for a long time to talk about Dieselpunk.

And why do some people think it's the most important steampunk genre of all?

When you work on alternative styles, this is the kind of question that often comes up. With hard work you know right away what influences and sub-genres you are using, like a seasoned stylist or fashion designer. How often do we ask ourselves the question when we run an online store to know if this or that object fits in this or that box, certainly quite often. In short, we have become an accidental authority on what is and what is not dieselpunk.

In the Steampunk Store team, we've been cosplayers and steampunk fans for a long time, and truth be told, we've been using dieselpunk elements long before there was ever a word "dieselpunk", and I've seen a lot of other names for it up until the 2000s.

So, dieselpunk, right?

According to Wikipedia:

"Dieselpunk is a genre like its better-known cousin "steampunk" that combines the aesthetics of interwar diesel technology through the 1950s with futuristic technology and postmodern sensibilities.

Like steampunk, the name "dieselpunk" is a derivative of the cyberpunk genre, the good old 1980s science fiction of William Gibson (Neuromancer). The term is used to represent the period from the interwar years to the 1950s, when diesel engines or not were the main technological advance of the western culture. The suffix "-punk" attached to the name is representative of the counter-cultural nature of the genre in terms of its opposition to contemporary aesthetics. The term also refers to the family of names given to the cyber-like genre, such as steampunk.

Because it is from Wikipedia, people seem to think it is "the" definition.

Now here's ours:

The word "steampunk" was first used by Lewis Pollack when he released his 2001 revenge game, Children of the Sun. It looks like Steampunk but the industrial revolution and the Victorian era give way to the troubled period of the world wars. A dark world dominated by war, the army, its codes and its iconography. A universe finally quite different from the world of the steam age, replaced by oil and electricity. A sentence summarizes all this by the fans: "Because steam just wasn't dirty enough".

Dieselpunk is a recreation of the futurism of the 1920s - 1940s. The genre requires imagination and the ability to interpret the future of tomorrow through the eyes of yesterday. The visual aesthetic incorporates elements of art deco, film noir, prohibition, gangsters and the Great War combined with science fiction, fantasy, magic, alternate history and future technology to create a unique and distinct genre.

In short, after all my reading, writing, and observation over the years, I have come to the conclusion that Dieselpunk is what you or I would say it is, provided it reflects the real-futuristic elements of the 1920s, 40s, and sometimes the mid-50s. Dieselpunk is simply the maintenance of the aesthetics of the style of the 20s, 30s and 40s, and the absolute break is between the early and mid-50s. Nothing more than that, no need to complicate the matter further. It maintains any aspect of style of this specific period of human history, then free to incorporate science fiction and fantasy.

There are two extremes in style: the natural Dieselpunk I would call and the future Dieselpunk:

  •  In the natural Dieselpunk, people wear authentic vintage clothes or faithful reproductions of clothes from the past. Uniforms of the British or Nazi army are numerous for example.

  • The Dieselpunk futurist is the one of us who is passionate about what the future was and who tries to recreate this style and produce these "S-F" elements in everyday life.

 Captain Sky and the World Tomorrow, an example of a diselpunk film réussi

Here are some other examples that suggest you might be dieselpunk. ... 

  1. Some of you who like the safari and colonial look and you incorporate these elements in your daily wardrobe nowadays, in the 21th century? Dieselpunk.

  2. All those people who are into the military look of World War II uniforms, military machines and accessories and intermingle those items in their daily life? Dieselpunk.

  3. The men and women who like to dress up in suits and dresses and go to concerts dressed in leather, cap and makeup, and who like to do more than anything else? Dieselpunk.

  4. The one who in all aspects of life tries to recreate his world as if the style of the 20's and 40's was the norm (I know some)... ... You may be a dieselpunk?

  5. In fact, if you wore a fedora and vintage style suit or a simple leather jacket with your modern clothes, and you wondered if you were the only one or if there were more people, could you be a dieselpunk?

steampunk, dieselpunk, cyberpunk, same fight?

Like other variations of cyber, dieselpunk is more than just a style or a specific aesthetic.

The "punk" aspect of dieselpunk is an act of passive aggression against the modern establishment that dictates what one can and cannot wear. More to the point, the people who write the ridiculous "is this fashion?", "is this has-been?" articles in fashion magazines, all those countless rags published for the famous under-50 crowd. Dieselpunk is particularly against these fashionable dictates that everything old is bad and everything new is good - and everything good now will be bad in a few weeks.

We are openly against the self-appointed authority in a fashion industry that expects us to throw away all of our clothes that we bought last season and spend a fortune on this season's fashion, only to throw away this season's clothes when this season is over and the next season comes along. We will not bow down to the cult of the catwalk.

Dieselpunk is the declaration of war against the establishment that demands conformity. It is a solid punch in the face of the people who demand that we dress in a specific way and that we kneel before the altar of hyper-consumption, it is the total denunciation against aspects of modern society that belittle and degrade the individual;

If you haven't already guessed, there is - or there should be - an anti-authoritarian mentality in dieselpunk. We reject the idea that there is a self-appointed "leader" or authority of any kind, it is a counter-cultural movement.

Being Dieselpunk is also a challenge to the rugged individualism of the present era, not so that we can live like hermits, but so that we can contribute more to the community. The stronger we are as individual dieselpunks, the better the community is.

One of the most important things to remember when discussing what dieselpunk is or is not is that it is one of the most popular activities among dieselpunks. My definition of dieselpunk is more inclusive and allows for a mainstream approach to ensure that no one feels excluded from the dieselpunk, steampunk and cyberpunk community. We are finally one family, envious of the past and its alternative style, fighting to be ourselves.

One thing is certain, Dieselpunk and Dieselpunks will remain and grow as artists, writers, hobbyists and all other creators incorporate the aesthetic of this style into their projects and products.

Thank you Steampunks and Dieselpunks for reading this article, pass it on and have a great trip home!

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