16 March 2010

In defense of my Gazette article

I have a new post up over at the Gatehouse where I defend my article in the latest Gatehouse Gazette from the controversy and criticism surrounding the purposed theme for the issue as a whole—the highly misunderstood term "Victorientalism"—and the perceived handling of the term by the Gazette's editor, Ottens.

My post can be found here.

The ongoing debate over Victorientalism can be found here.

I've sadly been too busy lately to spend as much time as I would like researching this topic and the responses to it. Going in to writing the article for this issue, I had assumed the decided topic of "Victorientalism" was a rather well-established subgenre of steampunk, but apparently this is not the case. In fact, it seems to be the first time many steampunk enthusiasts have encountered the term, and they are often reacting viscerally rather than intellectually. The issue therefore seems to have two battles raging: one that seems to disagree with the word itself, and feel that simply renaming the subgenre would fix everything. This is the prevailing mood, as few people seem to have stopped to undertake research for a reasoned, intellectual discussion and have merely resorted to gut-level reactions. Admittedly, this shows a flaw in the genre's name, but it is still unfortunate that so many will decry the evils of it without taking the time to really understand what "it" is. The others, such as myself, are beginning to question the implications in terms of the entire steampunk genre. Steampunk is, essentially, and alternative Victorian era, it's real life counterpart being a time of extensive colonialism, racism, and class oppression. Is it okay to borrow aesthetically from this, despite it's dark past? Is it okay in some cases but not in others? Is it okay to idealize history for entertainment purposes or fiction by removing the more sinister parts?

These issues and more have begun to take shape and I hope that the steampunk community will explore these through intellectual debates in the coming weeks and months.

As it stands, I simply felt the desire to defend myself and my article, considering I have been lumped in as being "racist" by those who did not bother to read my article or many of my fellow contributors. I think the content of article should have spoken for itself that I am not racist nor ethnocentric in my take on the interaction between Western and Eastern cinema.

I would also like to state that I have been a part of the community over at the Smoking Lounge along with the other contributors and that it is one of the friendliest and most accepting places I have ever been online. People are courtesy and while debates arrise, they tend to be very civil and intellectual. Even Nick Ottens—who I disagree with politically and ideologically as he supports Ayn Rand while I prefer Zhuangzi, and who has faced the most heat during this controversy—I do not feel to be racist or to mean any ill intentions, nor any of the other contributors. They all seem to me to be good, respectable, and smart people. I will admit that latent racist is, at the very least, implied in the term "Victorientalism," but that is most likely not at all the intention behind it. Still, for that reason, I am advocating an attempt at finding another name for the genre that would be suitable and deemed less inherently offensive.

Note: If you have been sent directly to this post, please check out my final take on Victorientalism, posted here.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm... it seems some delicious.com has been promoting my blog due to this post, and I've also come up in some searches for "Victorientalism."

    Unfortunately, it doesn't look like any of the new viewers have explored any further than this post... I suppose they're here for the controversy, not the film studies.