A few months ago, Disney announced something called “The Mechanical Kingdom,” a set of collectable pins featuring steampunk versions of Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, etc. Here’s the wallpaper:
You can get more wallpapers right here.
Of course, once a massive entertainment consortium like Disney gets involved with something alternative and kewl like steampunk, it gets sort of, I don’t know, Disneyfied, and certain people will decide it’s totally over. Check out the debate raging here at Brass Goggles.
But here’s the thing: Disney has always been at the forefront of steampunk, even before there was such a thing. In our panel discussion from two posts ago, Cherie Priest and I both confessed that our nascent fixation with steampunk was inspired by 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. And we weren’t talking about Vernes’ novel or even the movie, but the frickin’ ride. And let’s not forget Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Oops: CCBB was not made by Disney,it just feels like it was), The Rocketeer (1991), Around the World in 80 Days (2004), or even the vine-and-coconutpunk stylings of Swiss Family Robinson (1960)!
I mean, we’re talking about Disney, an organization that owns multiple mechanical Abraham Lincolns! How steampunk is that? About this much:
So let me put it this way: everyone who’s complaining about Disney’s “Mechanical Kingdom” had best step off and go learn some history. And also get used to the fact that subcultures don’t just start off cool and then go mainstream to die. Rather, cool stuff bounces back and forth between alternative and mainstream in ways that are both unpredictable and awesome.
I, for one, welcome our new mouse-eared overlords. After all, they’ve been here all along.