We all know that in 2012, IBM labelled the word “steampunk” as a buzzword for 2013. Because of that it generated all sorts of ridiculous articles and increased prices on eBay by at least 30%. Since then mainstream business has tried several times to worm its way into steampunk including Wired Magazine’s relentless use of the word in 2014, a £165 T-Shirt with a picture of a corset on it and the television show Steampunk’d. None of them managed to last because steampunks are far too shrewd to be dictated to by corporations as to what they should enjoy. The only thing we really allow is mainstream arts, such as cinema. Because when done properly, it looks pretty.
But what happens when we take steampunk to the masses? What will people say when two guys – one dressed in braces and a bow tie with a snarl and the other in a red sequin jacket, red eyes and horns on his hat – stroll onto a stage? A stage that is in front of thousands of audience members as well as millions of home viewers? The answer could very well soon be upon us. Steampunk Journal house band and steampunk global names Victor and The Bully have announced that they’re considering entering The X-Factor in the UK.
On the Facebook based Victor and The Bully Sinner’s Page – a central hub for keeping in touch with the band and looking at near the knuckle memes – Matthew (AKA Victor) noted that all he wants to do is get on television and say “We’re Victor and The Bully!” I can see why the appeal of that is so enticing. As an artist, to have the opportunity to get in front of millions of people is fantastic for advertising.
This isn’t the first time the band have been to these auditions. Though whereas last time they had to queue up with the rest of the applicants, this time they will jump the queue and go straight to pre-audtions to see if they can get on the stage in front of the Judges. It would seem that the show actively contacted the boys to invite them to audition.
The announcement had a mixed reception from fans and followers of the band. The responses varied from thinking it was a fantastic idea, to thinking it was a terrible idea and that they were selling out. There were also a number who warned of problems with the companies involved with making the show and other connected shows. The channel producing the show have full control of how anyone going onto The X-Factor is perceived. They can edit whatever they want out of anything you say and have it taken completely out of context. And there’s nothing you can do about it. A 20 minute video on YouTube by Mess Music that lists what a typical contract says is horrifying. As well as the general points about not being responsible for negative comments or hurting yourself while there, they also ask you to sign over your image and all your creative work. INCLUDING work that has been produced in the past. That would mean that potentially any of the songs or videos that the boys have posted will be owned by the company running X-Factor and can be sold, modified or taken down any time they want. That would be really bad, especially if they didn’t get past the initial stages.
Incidentally, Matthew isn’t expecting to get very far, as he pointed out when people mentioned that he’s not mainstream enough. He just wants to get the band mentioned on the stage and play some music. That could have a really positive boost for the boys if the restrictions mentioned above aren’t correct. There are bound to be people that like their sound, even if the Judges don’t. That could lead to increased sales in albums and merchandise as well as opening networking doors.
Arguably, another thought is whether the general audience is ready for the image that Victor and The Bully have. The one of emulating the Devil while both of them use black make-up on their eyes. Matthew covers his eyes and forehead so they’re dark and emphasises his red eyes, while Harry has black “bleeding” from his eyes. To show up in front of an opinionated and judgemental crowd who are already hyped up and using the fact that the boys are there voluntarily as an excuse to voice whatever opinion they like, it could be very damaging.
It made me wonder just how much the public is ready to accept steampunks and other cultures. In recent years we’ve seen a massive explosion in individuality as the millenials come to age and decide that they want to be themselves and do as they want. Regardless of what people think of them. While this outdated view of societal norms is slowly – yet thankfully – being swept away, a new outlook on what is considered normal is coming in.
What that could do for people in the future is going to be very exciting as we see more and more traditional “weirdness” be considered normal. That would definitely be a world that I’d like to live in.
What do you think?