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The Complete Guide To Irony
June 28, 2003 9:34 PM   Subscribe

Irony in a Nutshell. Not an O'Reilly publication, but you can use it to teach yourself Irony in 24 hours. For dummies. And a reference for the rest of us.
posted by weston (27 comments total)

 
I forgot. Via, for some reason, Slashdot, of all things.

Also, there was an SNL episode about Irony that I'm looking for. It featured send up of a Masterpiece Theatre style presentation, and the repeated (?) use of the phrase "when Irony rears its ugly head." Any information gods want to help?
posted by weston at 9:36 PM on June 28, 2003


mARK mORFORD IS A PRIME EXAMPLE OF aMERICAN iRONY. i LOVE mARK mORFORD. hE'S SO LIBERAL. YOU NAZI TRAITORS MUST FESS UP TO LIE U BELIEVE. WE HAVE YOU SURROUNDED. LIBERALISM'S GONNA KICK YOUR ASS!!!!

BUT SEE! THIS IS A STEREOTYPE.

I LOSE. I simply cannot keep this up.
posted by crasspastor at 11:28 PM on June 28, 2003


Good essay, I especially appreciated the succinct dismissal of Alanis Morissette ("she proved... with her song Ironic, that she didn't know what irony meant"), and the author's self-control in writing ~3500 words on irony without mentioning David Letterman.

And crasspastor, please check for missed dosage. I certainly don't know what Mark Morford or the CAPS LOCK key have to do with irony or post-irony or the Guardian. Disappointing from a guy whose MeFi profile contains such a well-defined piece of Vonnegut post-war irony, and has recently demonstrated he knows just what irony isn't...
posted by wendell at 11:57 PM on June 28, 2003


Texting is a truly tricky form for the ironist - very brief texts are difficult to make ironic simply because it's difficult to inject many layers into seven words. However, if you write a very long text, because it's such a bugger to do, your extra effort suggests a sincerity - an undudelike urge to be understood - that sits all wrong with the irony. To get round this, forms like "(!)" and "Not" and "have evolved", but they're pretty dumb and basic.

Yeah I'm pretty "undudelike" for just continuing with my screed on just what a handle, I myself, have on irony.

But it's true. Irony is impossible in the world of text messaging etc. I have no clue if Wendell is "one upping" me or not. No idea.

But just to show that I was not being cruel to those who write in all caps (such as my cousins) I joke more about the flaws of making fun of someone for that "texting trait" because to do so is also to engage in an irony that is also very hurtful and does not lend to civility.

Maybe I should have written: BUT SEE! THIS **TOO** IS A STEREOTYPE. The act of writing in all caps was the STEREOTYPE I was trying to ironically mimic.

It's totally bad form to give away your jokes. But then again wendell could be taunting me into an endless cycle of irony. I don't know. All I do know is that I don't enjoy it.

As far as the link to my site is concerned, I've grown more into the wrongheaded approach of detecting and putting my undermedicated ego on the line predicting the lack of cultural useful irony of others. Yeah I may be wrong. But the cruel cycle has to stop somewhere, don't you think?
posted by crasspastor at 12:26 AM on June 29, 2003


Irony is impossible in the world of text messaging etc.

Hmph. Irony via text worked okay for Jonathan Swift...
posted by Vidiot at 1:05 AM on June 29, 2003


Good essay, I especially appreciated the succinct dismissal of Alanis Morissette ("she proved... with her song Ironic, that she didn't know what irony meant")

Alanis Morissette's song *is* ironic - its a song about irony that doesn't contain any.
posted by Orange Goblin at 1:33 AM on June 29, 2003


OK I saw this on Slashdot but gave it a miss but now I will go and read it. I think I already know what irony is but I will read it anyway.
posted by mokey at 1:45 AM on June 29, 2003


Sorry I couldn't read it. Does anyone really not know what irony is? It's such a simple concept.
posted by mokey at 1:49 AM on June 29, 2003


Or, if you don't like the stuff at all...
posted by Vidiot at 2:04 AM on June 29, 2003


Hmph. Irony via text worked okay for Jonathan Swift...

Irony works for all of us, and it works against us, is all I'm saying.

Irony does not work without some common background. The background is implied. If you're cool or dorky enough to "get it". And if you don't "get it" well then the joke's on you. You either get pissed and demonize with insult or you laugh and get over it.

The more obscure, the more ironic I guess. People think things and sometimes express their thoughts. A sense of humor is imperative if you're to allow just anybody to think and express.

In comes irony and then we do it all over again.
posted by crasspastor at 2:56 AM on June 29, 2003


"In Casualty, on the other hand - man leaves pub in middle of day; commences dangerous-looking welding job; burns own eye out in drunk accident. Dur."

Highlight of the link, seriously. LOL.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 5:01 AM on June 29, 2003


Alanis Morrisette's take on her song "ironic" is interesting. She says that she knows it isn't ironic, she's always known it's not ironic, and could people stop bugging her, it's just a song, and "Isn't it unfortunate" (although more accurate) wouldn't have made for such a good tune.
posted by seanyboy at 5:25 AM on June 29, 2003


Can anyone post praise of this article without appearing ironic? I thought it was excellent and I learned a great deal. Here are my eyebrows: - - See? They're in the neutral position. I really did enjoy reading that article.
posted by chrid at 5:29 AM on June 29, 2003


"In Casualty, on the other hand - man leaves pub in middle of day; commences dangerous-looking welding job; burns own eye out in drunk accident. Dur.". Although it may be a highlight, it's completely wrong. Casualty always has three people doing dangerous things, and the tension is created by the fact that you don't know which one is going to get it. And they do pull the Six Feet Under switch. e.g. 2 minutes of man drinking. The barman tells him to leave, the drunken man wanders into the road, and the oncoming car swerves and in swerving - somehow - runs over the barman. I'm not sure if you could class this as ironic, but they do do it.
posted by seanyboy at 5:30 AM on June 29, 2003


chrid. Yes. Extremely well written, and about a subject I knew nothing about. It really was enjoyable to read.

Nope. Can't do it. Whatever I say about the article just seems to come over as sarcasm.
posted by seanyboy at 5:32 AM on June 29, 2003


On Alanis, comedian Ed Byrne had his own take on her song.

Weirdly, the page seems to be in invisi-text, so Ctrl-A to highlight may be needed. Which is a bit... no, sorry, can't be bothered.
posted by gdav at 5:54 AM on June 29, 2003


i have a (n american) friend who believes he's "ironic" - i get the impression that in the usa irony implies a certain (european?) cultural sophistication - but, in fact, he uses "irony" as an excuse for backtracking over what he appears to believe, when disagreeing with others ("oh no, i was being ironic....").

yet, as the article says, good quality american tv is often ironic

i'd always assumed that n american irony fails because the usa doesn't have a sufficiently complex shared culture - it's too much of a melting pot. perhaps irony is possible in tv shows because they first define a particular culture, within which they then operate. frasier, for example (maybe not such a good example, as when i last saw it, it had turned more towards slapstick; "unfortunately" i no longer watch tv), defines a very narrow social group, within which irony can be re-introduced.
posted by andrew cooke at 7:21 AM on June 29, 2003


Irony in a Nutshell: It's like goldy, and bronzy. Except that it's made of iron.
posted by skwm at 8:42 AM on June 29, 2003


mokey, I don't get it either. Suddenly people seem to be investing the concept of irony with massive subtlety and complexity. To me, it imples two straightforward things: irony of situations (ones where there's some darkly amusing or apt correlation of events - for instance, if JK Rowling were to be killed by being struck by lightning on the forehead); or irony as a verbal or written tactic (which to me is sarcasm played very deadpan, as in the recent thread on MOAB where comments were made like "what a wonderful bomb" and "Truly a force so great, held by nation so strong, will end war forever").
posted by raygirvan at 8:54 AM on June 29, 2003


That article was ironic.
posted by drstrangelove at 11:55 AM on June 29, 2003


"Isn't it unfortunate" (although more accurate) wouldn't have made for such a good tune.

"Isn't it a bummer?" would have scanned perfectly. And wouldn't involve inventing words such as 'alanic', although I do like Byrne's idea.
posted by riviera at 1:49 PM on June 29, 2003


This irony... it vibrates?
posted by squirrel at 4:40 PM on June 29, 2003


But then again wendell could be taunting me into an endless cycle of irony. I don't know. All I do know is that I don't enjoy it.
My apologies. It was not intended as hurtful, and I tried to express that I believe you DO know irony and non-irony when you see it/them. (Or as I non-ironically like to put it: "My bad, bygones, nevermind, d'oh.")
I just thought your exercise in First Comment mania was both too non-sequitur and too unsubtle to be ironic. But right now I'm working on a FPP about a certain kind of humor that is so non-ironic, it'll blow my (minimal) credibility out of the water. So, stay tuned.
posted by wendell at 6:49 PM on June 29, 2003


*settles in front of the computer and eagerly awaits wendell's Three Stooges FPP*
posted by Vidiot at 8:05 PM on June 29, 2003


there is a limit to how far you can take irony before you have to shoot yourself
posted by fidelity at 11:12 AM on June 30, 2003


Also, there was an SNL episode about Irony that I'm looking for. It featured send up of a Masterpiece Theatre style presentation, and the repeated (?) use of the phrase "when Irony rears its ugly head." Any information gods want to help?

Yeah, I sort of remember that, too. Late 80s, early 90s, I think. Jason Alexander was hosting. The gag was a "Tales of Irony" show, a Masterpiece Theater-style thing where they played "ironic" scenes which weren't. The punch line was "The Ironic Prospector," which was just some toothless old guy dancing a jig and yelling "I struck gold! I struck it rich!"*

*This jig-and-yell combo, for whatever reason, was trotted out at my wedding reception, and I have to say that it was one hell of a crowd-pleaser. But not terribly ironic.
posted by COBRA! at 2:33 PM on June 30, 2003


Wow, you know what's fun? talking about Alanis Morissette's song and whether it's ironic or not. It's certainly original. I mean, i've never heard it discussed before.

I vote to strike the word from our language.
posted by rhyax at 8:58 PM on July 1, 2003


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