Thursday, August 19, 2010

hello me! it's me again!

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.
Literature .
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.
Socratic irony.
dramatic irony.
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.


crazycarl said...

god I hate mustaches

Scott said...

i saw an older guy, probably 45-55 with a twirled mustache and a "Sherlock Holmes" style pipe driving a honda civic the other day, I am fairly certain he knew how crazy he looked and loved it. But he was in no way a hipster douche.

Now, on the flip-side, I wear glasses. I cannot see more than a foot without them. Sure, I try to get frames that look ok on my face. Not too huge, functional. But this gigantic tool bag i work with went and bought some black '80s looking frames with fake lenses because it is a "look" and he wanted to look smart. What do you think about this? Besides being completely fucking stupid?

Moxie. said...

omg Scott I can't see well either AT ALL and when people buy glasses because they want to "look smart" i always write them off as a catastrophically stupid human being.

jackson said...

So the fact that i know i have a crummy beard that i grew to help cover my lack of a prominent chin makes me a dork or no? Way to dump on my heart bk.

Matt said...

And you have hit the nail on the head in why every time I go to Brooklyn to drink/see a show/see friends, I want to punch half the people I walk past/see in the bar. The word "Ironic" has basically just replaced "retarded" in Greenpoint and Williamsburgh.

dustyfloors said...

I never thought we'd get a Megadeth reference in a title of a post here at BSC. That's amazing.

The talk of brain melting when seeing people without facial hair reminds me of a time many years ago when my girlfriend's dad shaved her mustache and it freaked her the hell out. She started crying and told him to "put it back on."

Capt Murdock said...

"reminds me of a time many years ago when my girlfriend's dad shaved her mustache "

Why would her Dad shave her mustache? At the very least one would think he would wax it for her.

That is, unless your "girlfriend" was a very gentle Italian man.

limited nobility said...

That legit buzzard would likely be banging some broad that resembles a shorter freja erichson within a month.Ive noticed that hipster sets have begun absorbing veritable members of whatever 'ilk' said set is attempting to emulate.The legit dude (it's always a male)is usually 8-12 years older than the median age of the hipsters who've sought him out or whatever.anyway,of course that dude gets laid because women (I believe) appreciate authenticity even more than least they do ephemerally

dustyfloors said...

Woops... he shaved his mustache... She cried and exclaimed "put it back"

Andrew said...

my dad has a moustache. a huge handlebar. he's had it for my entire life and probably the equivalent time period before that. i'm pretty sure my head would explode from shock if he ever shaved it.

I really dislike this whole "ironic moustache" movement for the same reason. My dad is 50-something, single, and isn't very socially adept. So in other words every time he tries to go out and do things he's probably wrongly labeled by many as a creep. I don't know this for sure but he sure dates a lot of women that are scared off for one reason or another.
I just feel bad for him.

BBBB said...

Christ, this blog has gotten terrible. That last few months all it has become is bitching and analyzing the dumbest shit ever (paragraph after paragraph about the word "ironic"?---fuck). And then a legion of tools that further disect it in the comments. Done with this blog!

Nick said...

Is the Mustache March/Movember phenomenon just an ironic clusterfuck then, or does it completely depend on each individual's motives and grasp on neo-cultural tendencies?

Good Governor said...

I thought mustaches were just for lazy people. I only ever let the mustach grow because I've gotten lazy. But I have really fucked up facial hair and look like a homeless person most of the time in the face region.

Irony is stupid.

Hamilton Martin said...

BBBB, its pretty ironic that you just started a blogspot account to leave that message

Anonymous said...

What's the deal with retard and retarded? Is it okay to use that word when referring to stupid people since it's not pc for mentally handicapped people? Is this the same as fag?

boringdan said...

I read "sex, drugs and cocoa puffs" a few years ago and there's a line that starts "I was unironically listening to guns n roses.." and it always bugged the shit out of me. Calling your bluff, klosterman.

Banana@1000MPH said...

I think doing something unironically, while it seems stupid, is possible. I guess it might need to be the metalhead scenario where the person doesn't originally know, but finds out. Your friend that likes having a mustache unironically could have started growing his mustache without really thinking about the possible irony and then continued to grow/keep his mustache after he remembered/learned that there are a bunch of 20-somethings that have the facial hair of 60 year old pedophiles out there.

Virtual Visor (Mesmerizer) said...

'Beex' - I incepted your inclination to make a rant on the perennial and oft-maligned topic of irony and its using a meticulously crafted, carefully monitered dreamscape environment; however, your misconception that one's mere awareness of a given thing's ironic potential makes indulgence in said thing ironic by default on said person's behalf was entirely unanticipated--seemingly the result of a fault in the beex irony rant template (2.17 beta).
The claim of enjoying something unironically is is fact a tongue in cheek statement of intent/attempt at differentiation often made by individuals who, despite enjoying a given thing on a truly genuine level--unencumbered by ostentation and measured attempts to come off as quirky and 'cute' to peers via indulgence in said thing--possess a sufficient awareness of 'cultural assimilation via hipster dildo' to feel the need to differentiate their indulgence in said potentially ironic thing from the aformentioned funny business. Just as often, such individuals are telling a bald faced lie--in fact falling within the culturally assimilating dildo faction they attempt to distance themselves from--but it is genuine in approx 14% of cases.

Virtual Visor (Mesmerizer) said...

BBBB - I incepted your hilarious misconception that you are somehow less of a tool than any given person you encounter on information superhighway using a meticlously crafted, carefully monitered dreamscape environment

Drunken Acorn said...

I'm still confused about irony. I'm going back to sixth grade english.

Karen Kitten Cupcake Sweet said...

I really like mustaches ( on men). Im not sure i would call them a turn on. I know mustaches are weird and gross, and have a tendancy to smell and collect things in them, but i really really like them anyways..

why you ask? Its something that i have pondered myself over the years. I think its because they look so rediculous. They really make me giggle. And if something is so absurd that it makes me giggle, im down with that.

ian. said...

The most disturbing aspect of today's "hip" trends and styles is that they lack any genuine coolness, so to speak. The fact that there is a large collective of people who find that dressing themselves to the 9s in the kitschiest fucking things imaginable is just wrong and damn silly. Today's abuse of dayglo is worrying. As is the mustache situation. Calling your mustache ironic makes you appear spineless, like you lacked the confidence to just admit you wanted to grow a sweet tache.

Anonymous said...

nice shout out to the trailer park that is my north eastern neighbor Kittanning, pa. sadly this is true for many towns in western, pa. we're so stuck in the eighties, its awful.

Virtual Visor (Mesmerizer) said...

addendum - typewriter guy is never genuinely unironic - falling within the approx 86% window of irony fabulists 100% of the time - and is to to be persecuted relentlessly. Likewise for individuals claiming unironic enjoyment of the Willard remake starring Crispen Glover.
My internal sociometric algorithms ascertain that marginally talented actress Aubrey Plaza tends to date typewriter guy, of whom she quickly grows tired and replaces with Crispin Glover, who was already typewriter guy.

Anonymous said...

Here is another mustache brain melter: for those of you who are baseball fans, what should we make of the mustache choices of Milwaukee Brewers' closer John Axford? He has worn a number of different styles of mustaches this season, so we can sort of rule out that he likes the way any one single style of mustache appears, though it is within reason that he enjoys the look of some sort of facial hair. All of his mustaches, however, harken to important closers of bygone eras, so there is historical justification for Axford's facial hair. However, due to his recognition of this historical context for closers, there is an argument to be made that irony does exist within his mustaches.

In other words, we must ask the question of whether or not John Axford is a pseudo-hipster douche or a culturally- and historically-aware baseball pitcher. In this case, does irony outweigh heritage? And in your analyses, do not forget: he is Canadian, so different rules might apply.

Anonymous said...

i cannot grow a decent mustache,or a decent beard for that matter. and i hate people that try to be "ironic" sporting mediocre mustaches or beards,it's even more pathetic, at least be ironic with a decent amount of facial hair you dildo.

i think it works the opposite with pubic hair, i mean, i shave mine, and something tells me that's ironic, don't really know why.
i'll leave that to you mr. kelly

Keri said...

i don't understand the irony of typewriters. at all. to be honest. i use to a typewriter because, as you expressed here, dear brendan, it actually is the best means for me to express my thoughts. you're not born and 1987 and start using a typewriter at the age of 15 to be ironic. i feel like i'm over-justifying myself now. dammit. am i ironic now?

It's A-me, Martucci said...
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