with so much going on in the world, it's hard to figure out what to write about. I'm, in theory, picking up my new computer today. Also in theory, Dr. Laura is leaving her show after she repeatedly said 'nigger' for some reason. And in a move that was surprising for more reasons than I can enumerate, a topless Tila Tequila was attacked and bloodied up at the eleventh annual gathering of the juggalos. Pretty wild. But today I want to talk about the most maligned word in english and its relationship to hipsterdom: Irony.
irony - 6 dictionary results
i·ro·ny1 [ahy-ruh-nee, ahy-er-] Show IPA
–noun, plural -nies.
the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite ofits literal meaning: the irony of her reply, “How nice!” whenI said I had to work all weekend.
a technique of indicating, as through character or plotdevelopment, an intention or attitude opposite to thatwhich is actually or ostensibly stated.
(esp. in contemporary writing) a manner of organizing awork so as to give full expression to contradictory orcomplementary impulses, attitudes, etc., esp. as ameans of indicating detachment from a subject, theme,or emotion.
an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might havebeen, expected.
the incongruity of this.
an objectively sardonic style of speech or writing.
an objectively or humorously sardonic utterance, disposition,quality, etc.
I'd like to point out that this definition provides ample room for people to say "that's ironic" at a whole ton of times when pseudo intelligent dickholes tend to sneer and point out that the word is being abused. Actually you're right, irony police. It's being abused by you and other people who scoff and pooh pooh everyone who uses the word in any other context besides that of the first provided above definition. That makes the word 'irony' about as scary to use in a crowded room as the word 'nigger' which is pretty uh...ironic? (No.) Heh. Now THAT'S a misappropriation, folks.
Nah, it's just weird how a bunch of smarmy smart guys somehow all decided to narrow down the definition of this one particular word and decry the popular usage and all that. Why? Alanis Morrisette? Is she really behind all this? (For those of you blessed enough to not know, in the 90's, Alanis Morrisette put out this terrible song called "Ironic" which fully bludgeoned the meaning of said word and beat it within an inch of its life. She listed off a series of scenarios [rain on your wedding day, a free ride when you've already paid, something about a guy dying in a plane crash] which were, to the last, not ironic. This incensed a bunch of people, your blogosphere overlord included). Well, we should take a page from the Goonies script and take it back. Take it all back. Right? Good.
Okay, anyway, onward to today's topic: hipster irony and the use of wacky turns of phrase, facial hair, antiquated notions, bizarre cocktails etc and the desire to be seen as simultaneously ironic and unironic at the same time. Let's take typewriter guy from a few weeks ago. He was presumably being 'ironic' (you know, sitting in a coffee shop writing on a typewriter; it's totally contrary to what might have been expected, bro!) but at the same time, I'd bet my dick that he had some dumb planned out explanation about why using the typewriter was actually terrific and how it was truly, TRULY his preferred method of putting his ideas down, thereby rationally explaining his seemingly ironic choice and rendering it unironic, and instead the result of pragmatic decision making. He desired irony and the lack of irony all at once.
Here's what's funny about irony: as soon as you can recognize it you're doing it. Here's what I mean: the other day this dude told me that he enjoyed having a mustache 'unironically' which struck me as a totally bizarre thing to say because 1) what the fuck does it even mean and 2) you can't really say that and have it be true. Once you recognize something's ironic potential if you choose to do it you're being ironic. This is true 100% of the time. Let's examine the mustache as an example, shall we?
I've got an uncle named Steve. Uncle Steve has had a mustache for as long as I've known him, which is about 33 years (he actually recently shaved it and it totally melts my brain to see him without it, but that's really neither here nor there). He presumably enjoys his mustache and what it does to the perceived dimensions of his face. He does all this simply and without much thought. There is no irony in Uncle Steve's mustache. In fact, were you to approach him and ask him wether or not his mustache was ironic, he'd have no fucking idea what you were talking about. Much in the same way that if someone asked me if I drank coffee to be ironic I'd be completely confused. "Uh, no. It's not ironic. I don't even really see how it could be ironic. It's good, functional, and I like it."
There's no wiggle room here. Even if you told me that you thought drinking coffee was terribly ironic, I wouldn't believe you and it wouldn't change my opinion of coffee. It would only change my opinion of you and make you (in my eyes) either a total nutjob, a retard, or some desperate for attention dildo that pretends to find irony in regular things in order to seem more bizarre.
Ditto my uncle and his mustache. He doesn't have the perspective that you dinguses at the bike shop have; You know: the one that states that the mustache is the sole domain of perverts, cops, gym teachers and gay guys with huge muscles. He'd never dream of twirling his mustache because that shit makes you look like you just stepped off the Wright Flyer 1 and it's just not what's done these days. He MAY be able to look at some dildo like me and say "that's a weird mustache. What are you doing that for? To be funny or something?" but that notice wouldn't have anything to do with his mustache. His mustache would still be unimpeachable and normal because it just is.
However, I could never grow an unironic mustache and neither can you. Know why? Because you know that mustaches are ironic. To repeat the phrase: there's no wiggle room here. If you see the ironic potential, you're being ironic. There's absolutely no way around it.
Here's another example: metal. I'm talking about real metal here folks: metallica, slayer, maiden, megadeth, that sort of shit. There are people out there who rock this shit and wear sleeveless jean vests and mullets and wristbands and fucked up hi tops and shit because that's the cultural norm for a metalhead in, say, Kitanning PA. There's nothing ironic about any of these choices. They're the available and normative styles. However, once one of these buzzards leaves Kitanning and goes to live in Brooklyn, he's gonna be derided as some ironic 'neo thrash' dork by everyone except the other neo thrash dorks who will get to know him and suddenly be confused because he's not being funny. He's just himself. Now, these neo thrash dorks probably think they look awesome and they genuinely like how they look, but there's a level of thought that goes into it, a level of subverting expectations that our PA boy doesn't consider when he puts on his bandanna. He's just doing himself. That's how irony and non irony can look EXACTLY the same and yet still be completely different.
Now, the question is: once he's lived in Brooklyn for a while and he's gathered enough information to understand why people that dress just like him are being ironic, if he continues to dress that way, is he still unironic?
This one is hard. Firstly, the odds of him gathering this huge amount of cultural data and still staying unchanged are pretty low. Secondly, he developed his style on his own and presumably what's cheap buzzard wear in Kitanning is expensive boutique shit in Brooklyn and finally, the odds of this buzzard actually hanging out with the types of hipsters that pretend to be buzzards (and vice versa) are practically nonexistent. This is, after all, a hypothetical situation.
All that being said, I don't know the answer. My brain kind of pops every time I try to work it out. I don't know.
This whole thing is seemingly very condescending, isn't it? I mean, who am I to suggest that somehow some metalhead from the boonies has such a lack of breadth of knowledge of cultural norms that he'd need to immerse himself in a new culture and learn a lot in order to be ironic? I dunno...
I just don't know anymore. All I know is this: if you've got a mustache or a typewriter or a mullet and you know why that shit is frowned upon by the popular culture at large and you STILL DO IT you are a dork.
That is all.