Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wasn't It Ironic?

And now to something totally different.
Wired has this post about how irony is going to diappear and die out within the next decade.

This, however, doesn’t mean irony is magically going to disappear from your radios, multiplexes or flat screens (sleep tight, Jon Stewart). It just means it’s increasingly becoming less and less popular for critiques to be framed in the smart-alecky tone of someone dead-set on proving they’re smarter than Dancing With the Stars.

Okay, maybe not all of my beloved irony will go down the drain, but the author claims that it will not be the defining force in popular culture it used to be and that it is being replaced by a new sort of sincerity.
I tend to disagree.

Irony thrives in situations of ambiguity and inherent contradictions ("Wow, that was so bad that it was good"), while sincerity demands a clear cut position ("Do you like that movie, or don't you?")
Irony offers a solution and justification for grey areas, for the "kind of like"-situations of our everyday lives, while sincerety is our mode of operation, when the boundary between black and white is well defined.
One has to look for something other than sincerity, if one wants to find what is taking irony's place.
Nostalgia is a good candidate for that. It replaces irony's: "I like it because it's kind of bad", with a: "I like it, because it reminds me of the good old times"
Combine that with the constant morph of former geek-subculture into what is today's mainstream popular culture, and you have the reason for the success of a series like Glee (which the orignal article was about... should I have mentioned that earlier?).

Seen in the larger context of conservative movements gaining ground all around the world, because a permanently futureshocked populace wants to go back to the good old times, nostalgia already is a defining theme of the present. No surprise, if it leeches into popular culture as well.
Postulating nostalgia as the new cultural driving force replacing irony, seems more reasonable than framing the current loss of ironic distance as "sincerity".

Looking at the kind of future, which prefers looking back... Could I have my irony back?

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