Imagining a Better Future by Re-imagining the Past

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Alt. Right Fascist Perverts World War II Posters

Many of us in the Dieselpunk community have discussed our fear that contemporary racists would use Dieselpunk for racist means. Primarily we’ve been concerned about Fascists. Recently some racists have used patriotic material from World War II for their own perverted propaganda.

In January of 2017 Fascist writer Jared Taylor began posting perverted versions American posters from World War II. These perverted posters included one of Rosie the Riveter where here replaced the words ‘We Can Do It!’ with ‘Don’t Apologize for Being White’.

If you don’t know who Taylor is, he’s an American white nationalist who believes that intelligence and race are connected and that whites are the superior race. He founded the white supremacist organization New Century Foundation, which uses pseudoscience to promote the philosophy that whites are a superior race. In addition, he’s the editor of the Foundation’s magazine American Renaissance. He is a former member of the advisory board of The Occidental Quarterly, and a former director of the National Policy Institute, a Virginia-based white nationalist think tank. He is also a board member and spokesperson of the Council of Conservative Citizens.

Taylor isn’t some uneducated hick. According to Newsweek magazine he’s Yale-educated and is trilingual in English, Japanese, and French. In addition, Traylor has a Masters of Arts in international economics at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po), graduating in 1978.

So why this appearance of racist posters? When Taylor was asked why he launched his poster campaign, he response was, “We just got inspired…. The timing is good, given all of the controversy around the Trump presidency.” Such views should not be a surprise since as the Conservative newspaper Wall Street Journal reported Taylor supported Donald Trump's presidential campaign, and recorded robocalls to support Trump before the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary.

On a personal note, I find Taylor and his beliefs repugnant. This recent stunt of taking American World War II posters and twisting them into racist propaganda perverts what men and women were fighting and dying for. When Dieselpunks acknowledge the racism of the Diesel Era (circa 1920s - circa 1954) it’s to combat it, not celebrate it.


I intentionally didn’t post images of the posters. If the reader wants to see one, visit the Newsweek article. That article not only has several examples but an in depth analysis with a great video.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Great Performances: ‘Young Men’

PBS goes to war with ‘Young Men’.


This intriguing production stars the internationally acclaimed, all-male dance company BalletBoyz.

According to the Great Performances web site,

"The narrative follows a young solider and his squadron’s experience of basic training, combat, and ultimately, the destruction of modern warfare. The film is shot without words, instead using the locations and carefully choreographed dance to depict the devastation of a continent. The characters themselves remain ambiguous, representative of the experiences of young men of every nation as they struggle to maintain their humanity in an unending cycle of combat and death.

These young men succumb to the terror of their situation in a myriad of ways. War takes its mental and bodily toll on these comrades, as they struggle to survive one day’s destruction, only to wake to another’s mortal threats. A potent combination of music and choreography, the film is an immersive emotional journey into the reality facing young men at the extremes of human experience."

This production originally aired April 7th. If you missed this you can see it online at the official Great Performances web site.



Saturday, March 25, 2017

Archer: Dreamland

In April of 2017 Dieselpunk returns to the small screen. The eighth season of the hit series Archer becomes Archer: Dreamland. To be shown on the cable network FXX, Archer: Dreamland is set in 1947. It turns out that Archer didn’t die at the end of season 7 but is in a coma. So all of season 8 takes place in his head.


Archer: Dreamland premiers April 5, 2017 on the FXX cable network.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Daylight Saving Time

The following is an article for February 9, 1942 at History.com

On this day, Congress pushes ahead standard time for the United States by one hour in each time zone, imposing daylight saving time–called at the time “war time.”
 

Daylight saving time, suggested by President Roosevelt, was imposed to conserve fuel, and could be traced back to World War I, when Congress imposed one standard time on the United States to enable the country to better utilize resources, following the European model. The 1918 Standard Time Act was meant to be in effect for only seven months of the year–and was discontinued nationally after the war. But individual states continued to turn clocks ahead one hour in spring and back one hour in fall. The World War II legislation imposed daylight saving time for the entire nation for the entire year. It was repealed Sept. 30, 1945, when individual states once again imposed their own “standard” time. It was not until 1966 that Congress passed legislation setting a standard time that permanently superceded local habits.

 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Does Dieselpunk Demand Darkness?

“I wonder if that's how darkness wins, by convincing us to trap it inside ourselves, instead of emptying it out. I don't want it to win.” ― Jasmine Warga, My Heart and Other Black Holes

Dieselpunk has reputation for being a dark genre-punk. The seeds of this reputation were planted in its origin when one of its founders, Lewis Pollak, back in 2001 described it as being darker and dirtier than Steampunk. That phrase stuck and ever since Dieselpunk has been labeled as a dark genre.


I have to admit that I kind of like that reputation. Being a “Dirty Thirties” kind of Dieselpunk myself dark appeals to me. Even my interest in the other Diesel Era decades tends to be dark (mobsters of the Roaring Twenties and World War 2 of the 1940s).

With all of this being said, there is nothing in the definition of Dieselpunk that requires it to be this way.

The web site Dieselpunks.org has the definition written by Dieselpunk Founding Father Tome Wilson, which has become the standard for the genre:

Dieselpunk is a style of art that combines the spirit of the Jazz Age (1920s-1945) with a contemporary twist. We welcome all people from all nations and all walks of life.

Notice the absence of being dirty and dark from this definition. My own spin of the definition doesn’t require darkness either:

Dieselpunk is a mashup of modern ideas with the style and spirit of the 1920s through the early 1950s. The goal is to combine the zeitgeist of the past with today's ideas in order to build a better tomorrow.

In addition, there’s a positive flavor of Dieselpunk. Known as Hopeful Ottensian and named after the Dieselpunk Founding Father Nick Ottens this style of Dieselpunk gives a positive spin to the genre. I wrote about Hopeful Ottensian Dieselpunk here on my blog back on November 7, 2010.

An example of positive Dieselpunk
Dieselpunks reputation for being dark is well deserved for much of it is. However, this darkness is not the full picture.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Dieselpunk Lexicon Part 10: Decopunk

"No matter how thin you slice it, it's still baloney." -  Al Smith, American statesman, Governor of New York, Democratic U.S. presidential candidate in 1928

Dieselpunk has always had a dark reputation. One of its creators, Lewis Pollak, described it as being dirtier and grittier than Steampunk. But not all Dieselpunk is dark.

Decopunk is a brighter, more positive member of the Dieselpunk family. In an recent article at the Barnes & Noble web site titled Why "Decopunk" Deserves to Be Bigger than Steampunk, Sam Reader wrote,

"Drawing from the sleek, streamlined, futuristic aesthetic of the art deco movement, decopunk takes the glitz and glamor of the Roaring ’20s in science-fictional directions, frequently sprinkling in glittering elements of the weird and pulp fiction of the era."

Decopunk Movie "The Great Gatsby" (2013) Directed by Baz Luhrmann
Recently there have been rumblings on the internet describing decopunk as being a full-fledged genre-punk (Reader’s article is one example). However, those who would make such claims are mistaken because it’s not a genre-punk of its own. Decopunk source material is the 1920s, which as I mentioned in a prior blog post is one of the decades that provides source material for Dieselpunk. Wikipedia is correct when it defines decopunk as a subset of dieselpunk.

You can slice sashimi until it resembles fugu but it's still raw fish. ‘Decopunk’ is but simply a thin slice of Dieselpunk.

Decopunk Fiction, Radiance: The Novel by Catherynne M Valente

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Dieselpunk Lexicon Part 9: Interbellum Period

In my last post I wrote about the Diesel Era, which stretched from roughly World War One through the Korean War. Buried within this Era was the Interbellum Period or Interwar Period.

The Interbellum Period had clear starting and ending dates. It began on November 11, 1918, which the day the Armistice went in effect and hostilities stopped in World War One, and ended on September 1, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. This roughly twenty year period of time saw dramatic upheavals, politically and economically, across the globe.

The Interbellum Period saw peace and prosperity. In the 1920s, the US economy flourished. The UK and France both recovered from the devastation of the war. Democracy appeared in Japan with the Taisho Democracy and in Germany with the November Revolution and Weimar Republic. Plus, voting rights for women were granted in both the UK and the US. There was a cultural renaissance across the globe.






However, the Interbellum Period also saw chaos. The world economy collapsed in 1928 resulting in the Great Depression. The Dust Bowl smothered the central regions of the US during the 1930s. In 1922 Benito Mussolini rose to power and established the first fascist dictatorship in 1925. By 1933 both the Japanese and German democracies had been replaced with fascist dictatorships. Russia saw starvation partially caused by collectivization, the rise of Stalin, purges of anyone he thought might oppose him, and the terror of the Soviet Gulags.