This video, “Is Cyberpunk actually Punk?”, showed up in my feeds recently. The author talks about the origins of the word “punk” (starting with Shakespeare) and the trend to attach it to the names of genres and aesthetics.
Wow, thanks for posting this! This sums up my feelings perfectly in a way that I had just never really been able to articulate. Having been around during the inception of “cyberpunk”, I’ve never really doubted that cyberpunk actually is punk. The message of cyberpunk was always a rebellion to the “golden age” sci-fi scene and a backlash to the encroachment of corporations and technology into everyday life. Hackers were just then coming to be seen as a social problem and were already “punks” anyway. Cyberpunk was just a slight addition to bring digital and meatspace punks together under a common ideology. Most cyberpunks also have a good dose of traditional punk music, terms, and ideology in their past.
I also agree with the video’s assertion that Afropunk,Splatterpunk, and Solarpunk are also worthy of the punk classification, although I still have trouble thinking of solarpunk as “punk” because it’s just so damned optimistic! I agree that it absolutely fits the definition and etymology of the word “punk” as outlined in the video, but my brain rebels against the idea that something can be “optimistically punk”. Kinda seems like an oxymoron to me, but that’s just a “me” problem I guess. I’ve always thought of “punk” as defined here - undesirable, derogatory, unrelenting, and unsavory. I haven’t ever been able to rectify how the ideas of “punk” and “hope” can work together and still be “-punk”.
Those other genres, though - I think it’s those derivative genres that have just devalued the term and made it less impactful. I’ve always felt this way (I hadn’t even heard of “Decopunk” until this video) but I’ve never had the reasoning in my head as to why I felt this way until now. In my mind, these genres are decidedly anti-punk because they’re using an idea that is, at it’s core, about rebellion against the system (“rage against the machine”, if you will) and using it to relegate “punk” to a fashion statement or affectation solely in order to profit from it. The same thing happened with the term “hipster”. Now both “hipster” and “punk” are merely fashion trends for a significant number of people. I would love to see these “poserpunk” genres picking up the suggested names from this video that makes them more descriptive and closer to showing what they’re really about. “Gaslamp Fantasy”, “Dieseltech Romance”, “prehistoric sci-fi”…brilliant!
Thank you for posting this video! It was very interesting and informative!
I thought you might like it. When I saw it, it reminded me of a comment you had made a few weeks ago on the adjacent aesthetics.
That channel has good stuff in general if you’re interested in writing and storytelling.
Forgive the resurrection, reading thru older posts.
Hearing myself use the term a number of times a day - it is that big a part of my life - I’m beginning to find cyberpunk to be so broad as to no longer communicate.
Maybe this is done and done again, but I’m thinking about how I would deconstruct cyberpunk such that I don’t need the word any more. I’m not a snob about aesthetics - if you’re talking neon and rain, I’m there for it.
For me there’s tech - hacker by trade, I lean pretty hard into cyber - there’s art. There’s politics and the perceived extraterritoriality of corporations in the west. There’s the precarity of corpo life. There’s the state of the city, there’s rebellion.
It’s almost like a whole lexicon is needed to add specificity to any time I use the word cyberpunk.
Also, more punk.