robocop art

Cyberpunk Narrative vs. Style

I know that Cyberpunk is a lot of things to a lot of people.  

As far as story-elements, to some it’s a dystopian future filled strange gadgets and social issues revolving around where humanity meets technology - like Minority Report, IRobot (Asimov), and A.I.  To some it’s about a H.R.-Giger-inspired melding of biology to technology (maybe Robocop or Terminator).  And to some it’s about computers infiltrating our mind and thus our consciousness and perceptions (like Ghost in the Shell or the Matrix).

But there’s also a very artistic styling to this that I take away from related media (and a lot of it is probably based on H.R. Giger and Blade Runner to be honest).  By comparison, If you look at steampunk - which is really more about style than substance - there’s the melding together of Victorian elements to technology in an almost-magical fashion (we’re supposed to just believe things work - even though they’re presented through a purely mechanical artifice).  And, by comparison, if you look at cyberpunk, the style is really sort of similar, but we’re looking at a sort of grimy yet high-tech future where there’s a dirty-yet-practical melding of humans to machines (again.. in an almost-magical suspension of disbelief).

My question has always been whether cyberpunk is about the narrative or the style.  Unlike steampunk, there’s much more to it than just a visual element.  I know this theme started out in sci-fi stories that later got film adaptions and atomic-age-inspired book covers.  But recently, we’ve really taken those same stylings and artists have ran with it in awesome ways.  So whereas it was maybe 10% art and 90% literature, I’d say it’s now about 50/50.  Is that accurate?  I don’t know.. it’s just my perception based on popular media.  What do you think?