Swingin’ to the Oldies & the Irony Reserve

November 24, 2008

Sunday’s New York Times proclaims that irony is dead, or ailing, or something to that effect.

The article compares today with the post-9/11 zeitgeist, when everyone was declaring irony dead at the scene. Today, the major difference is that instead of a calamity and fear, you have an African-American heading to the White House, and everyone is so gosh-darn hopeful. Yep, Obamania hit America, and irony got caught in the crossfire.

The best part of the Times piece is the quote from Colson Whitehead:

“Something bad happens, like 9/11, it’s the death of irony,” Mr. Whitehead said in an e-mail message on Thursday. “Something good happens, like Obama’s win, it’s the death of irony. When will someone proclaim the death of iceberg lettuce? I’m sick of it making my salads boring.”

He’s right, you know. Boring salads are one of our greatest problems.

I never paid too much attention to the state of irony post-9/11, and I suspect that I won’t any time soon. But can irony really be too far diminished in the age of the “interweb,” when all silly things are readily accessible?

I daresay the internet has bequeathed an “Irony Reserve” on us, far greater than anyone in any other time ever imagined.

Take the seemingly limitless possibilities for cheesy jazzed-up covers of serious hit songs:

In the olden days, you may have had to settle for William Shatner’s fantastically awful Mr. Tambourine Man, or perhaps Bill Murray’s SNL take on the Star Wars theme. Today, you have a virtual panoply of musical irony, from the 90s Frank Bennett’s (and not Tony Sinatra) “Creep”; Mike Flowers “Wonderwall”; to Richard Cheese’s more recent “Welcome to the Jungle” (Pardon Me… do you know where you are? You’re in the jungle, baby”).  Even some washed-up old-timers are getting in on the irony gig, such as Paul Anka’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Pat Boone “Crazy Train.”

Please see the videos below. And dream of the ironic possibilities.


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