23 November 2008

A Brave New Post-Ironic World? Not a Chance... I Hope

A couple days ago ("Irony is Dead. Again. Yeah Right.") the Times raises the terrifying possibility that a post-Obama-as-President-elect world will also be a post-ironic world. Current evidence for this prediction includes the apparent inability of anybody to effectively make fun of the President-elect - which isn't really a question of irony, but, anyhow... - which, for what it's worth, seems on the mark. Has anybody seen The Daily Show recently? Tough crowd there. Quoth the puff-piece:

Roger Rosenblatt, the former Time columnist who wrote that Sept. 11 might at least “spell the end of the age of irony,” said that while irony had its place and time, this was not it.

“Irony,” Mr. Rosenblatt said, “is a diminishing act — the incongruity between what’s expected and what occurs makes us smile at the distance. But there are some events that occur, like 9/11, and perhaps Obama, though I didn’t think of him in this context, that are so big that they almost imply an obligation not to diminish it by clever comparisons.”
America just elected a President with the expectations that he will bring sweeping, fundamental change in Washington politics, a re-invigorated foreign policy that will raise the U.S. to new heights of exceptionalism (the good kind?), and an improved standard of living for "the middle class" after decades of decay - among other things. This in the midst of an economic crisis that threatens the economic and social foundations of advanced-industrial-liberal-democracy. Mr. Rosenblatt: there is going to be some incongruity.

I ardently hope that an Obama presidency does not mean that humor, presidential satire, and healthy critical self-distancing(which all appear to be what the Times means by "irony" these days) become the preserve of the right. If it does, November 4 was a tremendous victory for them.

1 comment:

Luke said...

Irony ain't dead. I'm waiting for the awesome SNL skit in which President Obama is awoken at 3AM by the phone beside his bed ringing. The caller? Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State.

You can't make up that kind of material.