Springingtiger's Blog


Inevitable Betrayal
September 14, 2016, 22:36
Filed under: Justice, Steampunk | Tags: , , , , ,

One of the joys of Steampunk is the excuse to dress a little differently from the crowd and to explore new possibilities for everyday objects. Of course like any genre Steampunk too has clichés like gears and goggles, top hats and pocket watches, but it also has infinite variety. I only mention this because it tends to be upon the obvious clichés that those intent on making money focus. There are many decent crafters who add gears to items because it looks good and good luck to them. However it doesn’t take much browsing on line to find that ‘Steampunk’ is also used to sell all sorts of mass produced tat as well. I think it a shame for those who put their heart and skill into the making to share a marketplace with those whose only goal is to make money. I suppose it’s always been that way.

In Scotland there used to be an excellent festival of alternative health and esoterica called Connections it ran annually and was popular. Needless to say there were those who decided to cash in on the idea and before long it seemed that there was an alternative health fair every weekend. Okay it wasn’t every weekend, but it felt like it and instead of a range of pioneers introducing people to new ideas the talks were little better than infomercials and the exhibition little more than a series of Tarot readers and other mystagogues selling readings. There don’t seem to be as many as there used, perhaps it’s because I have closed myself to them, I hope it’s because people have become less gullible. I suspect it’s because in their greed the peddlers of alternative spirituality over fished a limited resource without allowing it sufficient time to replenish itself.

I suspect the same will happen to Comics Conventions. They used to be few and far between, but now there seems to be one in the Glasgow area alone every couple of months. We Steampunks go to them because it is an opportunity to pull out the stops when it comes to dressing up. The backbone of the Comic Cons is the cosplayers of the various fandoms who turn up dressed as their favourite characters. Many of them are attracted by the opportunity of putting up their efforts for comparison and judgement against others. Without the cosplayers these events would hardly exist, true the serious comics collectors would still have their comics marts, but it is the cosplayers who make the Comic Cons. It is sad when people see the Comic Cons primarily as a way of making money from the fans and Fans can be easily exploited. Trust me I’m a Browncoat, I am not unaware of the marketing, we just don’t get hit as heavily or as often. Now the mentality seems to get the fans through and take their money as quickly as possible, run more cosplay competitions and shove the players through without giving them a chance to express themselves just so you can cram in more. The whole point is self expression and if people can’t express themselves they’ll stop coming.

Another thing I notice is that a number of the stalls seem to be the same as we used to find in the alternative health exhibitions with their crystals, dream-catchers, pendula and incense. Many of them are selling exactly the same products as half a dozen other stalls. Sometimes there is an oasis of taste and Steampunkery shining amidst the dross, it’s called Victoriana for Voluptuous Vixen, it is a relief after passing display after display of plastic pistols and identical pocket watches and pendants. I don’t believe people will continue to pay admission charges only to be treated like suckers. I doubt whether the cosplayers will continue to come if they are feeling ripped-off, of all the attendees they above all should be afforded respect, they are what draws many civilians into these events.

I am not opposed to anyone making money, but I am concerned that when people get too greedy they can kill the goose for everyone. The exploiters will just find a new bandwagon to run the wheels off, but the crafters, the fans, the cosplayers will be left high and dry. I believe that what people really want is just a few really worthwhile events, preferably with some big names in the panels and workshops and for the cosplayers to be given their chance to shine. I believe the best way to make money over a longer period is to treat people with respect and in turn they will repay that respect with loyalty. Asset strippers belong in the City of London not in the fabulous worlds of Fandom. You have been warned Darth Banker!

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