Imagining a Better Future by Re-imagining the Past

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Is It Dieselpunk?

For a long time I’ve worked under the assumption that for something to be considered ‘dieselpunk’ it had to have three elements: decodence, contemporary, and punk. ‘Decodence’ being defined as either a setting during the Jazz Age (1920s - 1940s) or the aesthetics/ feel of that era. ‘Contemporary’ means that it was created in a post-Jazz Age time period. Finally, the ‘punk’ element being either a twist on the era (some examples being alt history, science-fiction, horror, fantasy, musical, etc) or a counter-cultural spin (the anti-hero being one example).

Over the years these three elements have served us well. They’ve allowed for different ‘flavors’ of dieselpunk to be identified. At the same time, these elements set parameters so that not just anything could be considered dieselpunk.

Yet, I've been wondering how far we can push this three element criteria. Are there artistic productions that meet this criteria that would not be considered dieselpunk? Let me give you an example of my concern.

The Sound of Music
The Sound of Music was a stage musical that first premiered in 1959. It was composed by Richard Rodgers with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Later, in 1965 The Sound of Music was adapted into a film produced and directed by Robert Wise, and starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, with Richard Haydn and Eleanor Parker. The movie is now considered a classic. In 2001, the United States Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Both the stage musical and the movie are loosely based on the Von Trapp family. Set in 1939, the musical tells the story of Maria, who takes a job as governess to a large family while she decides whether to become a nun. She falls in love with the children and their widowed father, Captain von Trapp. He’s ordered to accept a commission in the German navy, but he opposes the Nazis. He and Maria decide to flee from Austria with the children.

Is It Dieselpunk?
The source of my doubts is using the word ‘punk’ in association with “The Sound of Music” just feels off to me. Certainly, it has the first two elements of dieselpunk. It has decodence in that they’re set in 1939. It’s contemporary in that no matter where one cuts off the Diesel Era, both were made post Jazz Age.

But is it really ‘punk’? Is simply being a musical enough to make it considered as such?

I’ll leave that to my readers to decide. If you have an opinion send me a message. I would love to hear your thoughts.

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