I too, recently read this article by the NY Times and it’s made me think a lot about irony lately. Particularly since I’ve been travelling in so many countries recently where the same sense of irony seemingly doesn’t exist. And it’s kind of refreshing! Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think there is anything wrong with a harkening back to the past. I love vintage clothing, the comeback of the LP etc. Not so sure about Steampunk, though. What I’m more referring to is the unabashed ability of people in other countries to wear what they want, listen to whatever music they want, despite the “cheese” level and be happy with it. If someone is still rockin’ the Scorpions (which, oh my, do they ever in Southeast Asia AND Europe), they aren’t making fun of it. They genuinely LOVE the Scorpions and they don’t care who knows it! Bad example? No, I am not encouraging a Scorpions comeback! And I’m sure there is a different system of conformity in these places. In fact, I know there is.
I find North American culture, increasingly focused on calling each other out, taking everyone and everything down a notch, treating everything as though: “everything has already been done, or that serious commitment to any belief will eventually be subsumed by an opposing belief, rendering the first laughable at best and contemptible at worst.” I can only wonder if this is to be followed by a period where everyone gets extremely REAL; the antithesis of the hipster generation; extreme and unabashed realness. Gone are the ironic t-shirts and choosing what band you like based on a Pitchfork review. I am going to tell you exactly what I think about something, from ME, choose clothing based in extreme ME-ness.
David Foster Wallace talked about this in an essay about TV. He said: “The new rebels might be the ones willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs, the parody of gifted ironists, the “How banal.” Accusations of sentimentality, melodrama. Credulity. Willingness to be suckered by a world of lurkers and starers who fear gaze and ridicule above imprisonment without law.” (DFW-E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction). One can only hope.
There have been a spate of media flourishes recently on how we are living with the collective malaise of irony. What is irony? Says Christy Wampole in the New York Times it’s the hipster archetype. You’ve seen the hipsters, the ones haunting the cool but not slick coffee shop, dressed in the perfectly artsy tee, with that self mocking picture of justin beeber on the front, and a suitably fair trade scarf from a wool coop in Peru around their neck. There’s the understated nostalgia, the hearkening back to another age that we actually haven’t lived in and a sort of disembodied connection to the present. Wampole examines the “hipster” further and says that it’s easy to mock especially when you fall in that category yourself, it’s examining ourselves that’s the real work.
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