Friday, June 3, 2011

nissan leaf is now steampunk?

This is certainly a first- Nissan and steampunk joining together in a happy VSF/car marketing campaign?

That's what the somewhat deceptive headline for the Business Insider article written by Antonio Pasolini about the new Nissan Leaf seemed to suggest.  The article is, after all, entitled: "Nissan Plugs the Nissan Leaf With Steampunk Advert."

But if you read the rest of the article and watch the actual ad in question, the headline does not quite deliver the mix of Victorian technology that never was with 21st century automobile innovations the headline seems to promise, at least visually.

In fact, the only connection of the above-mentioned Nissan commercial with steampunk is in Pasolini's mind:
In [the commercial], [Nissan] presents a world where every device is run on gasoline. Imagine an MP3 player, a hair dryer, a cell phone, a microwave oven and other devices run on gas and you get an idea. Very steampunk concept, if you ask me.
Despite the deceptive article title, I do have to agree with Pasolini to an extent-the concept definitely has a steampunk flair to it, if you're looking at steampunk as imagining technology that never was and might seem rather archaic today as actually taking place in the modern world.

I like this marketing attempt on Nissan's part- challenging the "modernity" of gasoline-powered vehicles compared to vehicles that run completely on electricity:
...Nissan’s senior vice president of marketing Jon Brancheau said the “campaign was conceived to challenge the notion that cars can only run on gas. By using humor and asking the simple question, 'What if everything ran on gas?' we're able to rationally make the case that electric cars' time has arrived”.
But can the attempt be legitimately classified as steampunk? Although steampunk has many different interpretations, I think the definition would be more fitting if all of the appliances in the commercial ran on steam, which would totally defeat the purpose of the ad campaign's humorous take on gasoline powered vehicles. Can it only be steampunk if it's steam-powered? Can it be steampunk if it has nothing to do with Victorian science fiction, brass, or clockwork parts?

I wouldn't quite put Pasolini's article in the "Not Remotely Steampunk" category. I do think his use of the word to classify Nissan's commercial shows the increasing popularity of the genre, and is actually relevant. Pasolini's use of the phrase, however, was rather misleading to me because I expected aspects of VSF and neo-Victorianism in the ad. My question is, is his use of the word misleading to others who know nothing about steampunk?

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. It's not gaspunk, it's steampunk.

    I think the steam but is important. I think it also needs to have something to do with Victorian science fiction, because those are it's roots. Brass is pretty important, IMO, because it's the most common metal material. Clockwork is nice, and popular imagery, but not necessary.

    About the misleading bit... yeah, I think it is. Everything being powered by gas is /inspired/ by steampunk at the most. It's not steampunk, not even a tiny bit.

    I think it's misleading as well as not remotely steampunk.