Author Topic: Post-Irony (& The New Sincerity)  (Read 3461 times)

Cramulus

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Post-Irony (& The New Sincerity)
« on: March 08, 2017, 03:44:29 pm »


I really enjoyed this youtube vid discussing "The Problem with Irony"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2doZROwdte4

The video follows a train of thought from David Foster Wallace. It is critical of how irony has infused itself so deeply into pop culture and everyday human relations. The video talks about how "Irony has no redemptive qualities in and of itself. It can point out problems and deconstruct things, but it has no solution." We've begun to treat irony as a statement in of itself.

This resonates with me through my experience spending years and years trolling the Internets with you cats. I found that there long-term consequences of wearing an ironic mask for so long, playing a character until it blends into your real personality. It made me argumentative and contentious in my day to day life. People told me that when they were talking, they felt like I was just searching for a weak point to pounce on it.  I was full of criticisms, and I defended myself against criticisms by not believing anything, by not presenting a solid base that could be attacked. Sometimes it felt like all I had was a critical posture... I had built walls and a moat ... with no castle to defend.

David Foster Wallace didn't like how irony (which, like Satire, is often employed to intensify the The Thing you're criticizing) had become The Thing itself. It has no values, no statement, no castle to defend.

Wallace's counter-movement is called the New Sincerity. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Sincerity


« Last Edit: March 08, 2017, 11:34:50 pm by Cramulus »

Cramulus

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Re: Post-Irony
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2017, 03:58:04 pm »
There is a little symmetry here between the New Sincerity, and Christine Harold's book Ourspace, which is critical of Kale Lassn's AdBusters.

In Ourspace, Harold says the problem with the "anti-commercial" movement is that it's just a negation. It doesn't present a replacement. Adbusters say "stop getting obsessed with brands." But what do we do instead?

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Re: Post-Irony
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2017, 05:04:10 pm »
There is a little symmetry here between the New Sincerity, and Christine Harold's book Ourspace, which is critical of Kale Lassn's AdBusters.

In Ourspace, Harold says the problem with the "anti-commercial" movement is that it's just a negation. It doesn't present a replacement. Adbusters say "stop getting obsessed with brands." But what do we do instead?

You get obsessed with sustainability and local shit and supporting ethics in consumption, etc, etc. This is pretty obvious, though maybe a tad implied.

TBH, it seems like irony, post irony, new sincerity, etc, are meaningless distinctions because all of them are intended to be sharp criticism of society. With every ironic statement is a very sincere criticism that is illuminated from the contrast.
Irony often didn't have the desired effect because the speaker knew what they intended, but this might be confusing to the observer. Irony is too often confused for sincerity because everyone is so inundated with shitty ideas on the internet that its no longer effective to present ideas as ironic due to their seemingly obvious absurdity.
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Cramulus

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Re: Post-Irony
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2017, 06:25:40 pm »
Quote
You get obsessed with sustainability and local shit and supporting ethics in consumption, etc, etc. This is pretty obvious, though maybe a tad implied.

I think both Harold and Lassn would say that there is, like, a meta-product, identity and individuation, which the product provides for the consumer. And that's why "just stop being so brand obsessed" isn't effective; the motivational power of Nike's swoosh can't compete with "support ethical commerce instead". You can't wear that on your sleeve the same way, it doesn't have the same spectacular power.


TBH, it seems like irony, post irony, new sincerity, etc, are meaningless distinctions because all of them are intended to be sharp criticism of society. With every ironic statement is a very sincere criticism that is illuminated from the contrast.

The video in the OP uses Seinfeld as an example, so I'll start there. Seinfeld is an ironic take on the sitcom.. In contrast with its peers, it's got no "point", no "moral lesson", the character's aren't "wholesome".. which is probably part of why it succeeded--it was a response to the schmaltzy family sitcom. But it's also kinda nihilistic and cynical. None of the characters have any values or passion, they don't solve anything. They're not good role models, and they wouldn't be fun to hang out with.

and I'm not saying sitcoms need to be these aesop's fables or anything like that, it's just lowbrow entertainment

But I do think the Sitcom plays a role in our cultural myths. I confess with a cringe that at a young age, Full House and other TGIF programming played a role in how I perceived romantic relationships and the larger world. And when I think about shows like Arrested Development, or Parks & Rec, where the characters are actively seeking out meaning and joy and aren't just cynical new yorkers...  It's a different experience. It takes you to a different place.

If I had to choose between living in a world where everybody behaved like a character in Parks & Rec vs behaving like a character from Seinfeld, Parks & Rec is clearly the better universe.

To draw on my trolling experiences again -- my Pterodactyl Handler character didn't have any beliefs, he was just a dick. He was borne of irony, and he had nothing but teeth. Playing that character for a long period of time (like 2 or 3 years embedded at TCC), and slowly growing into him... it honestly didn't feel good. My Cramulus character, in contrast, was actively creating stuff, trying to discover new things... In a lot of ways, the cynicism and bitterness of the Pterodactyl Handler forced Cramulus to be more sincere. So I feel the difference between irony and sincerity in a big and personal way.

Yeah in some ways Pterodactyl Handler was, through mockery, helping refine shitty people and shitty behaviors. But the lack of values and the fun of blowing people up rapidly eclipsed whatever Goodness mockery could accomplish.

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Re: Post-Irony
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2017, 06:42:42 pm »
Are we conflating irony, cynicism, and pessimism together in one big ball of emotions labeled "negative stuff"?

Because I think that's a massive oversimplification.

I prefer the John Waters' school of anti-irony.  Cf: Pecker.

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Re: Post-Irony
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2017, 07:00:20 pm »
I think that irony is best deployed when things don't really matter (ie. the fashions of the 70's) and during the early criticism phase of identifying social wrongs, but is of little use when it comes time to really tackle social change.

People who are stuck in perpetual irony-land are, in a sense, signaling that they don't really matter and have no intention of mattering. It is, for want of a better term, nihilism signaling.
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”


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Re: Post-Irony
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2017, 07:09:08 pm »
I began to write stuff for this in reply but found myself a bit diverted and I want to be clear about what I mean when I post it.

Posting this to note that you got me thinking.
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Cramulus

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Re: Post-Irony
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2017, 07:09:47 pm »
Are we conflating irony, cynicism, and pessimism together in one big ball of emotions labeled "negative stuff"?

No I don't think Wallace is criticizing emotional negativity, at all.

The "New Sincerity" thing is a response to the prevalence of irony and cynicism in pop culture, how these attitudes are no longer just a form of criticism, but have crept in as an expression in of themselves. Wallace thinks irony is basically hollow; when you put it in the creamy center of entertainment, its inherent lack of value has an "enervating" effect on culture.






Its kinda like that South Park episode where Stan becomes a tween and starts thinking everything is lame -- and in turn becomes awful to hang out with.

Quote from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You're_Getting_Old#Plot
From ice cream to movie trailers, Stan can now only see the bad in things, and this negative outlook alienates him from Kyle, Kenny, and Cartman, who begin avoiding him. When Stan catches them secretly going to the movies without him after lying about having the flu, he comes along, only for his attitude to ruin the trailers and Kyle, Kenny, and Cartman leave the theater.

 

Quote
I prefer the John Waters' school of anti-irony.  Cf: Pecker.

not familiar

Cramulus

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Re: Post-Irony
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2017, 07:16:02 pm »
related thread, dovetails nicely: http://www.principiadiscordia.com/forum/index.php/topic,27451.msg969661.html#msg969661


Back when I was a kid, which was a long time ago indeed, stuff that was cool was cool. It was cool to like stuff that was cool, and of course everybody thought the stuff they liked was cool. "Cool shirt, dude!" was not a condemnation, but an accolade. Nobody was embarrassed to admit that they were into something because they thought it was cool; a cool band, a cool car, a cool chick. Maybe, if you were a nerd, a cool computer or a cool calculator... computers and calculators were REALLY cool back then, because they were now, and damn if they weren't hot rats.

...

Somehow, though, cool isn't cool anymore. If you like something because you think it's cool, people will judge you and find you insincere, and probably therefore inauthentic. "You're only into them because you think they're cool" is an insult. People are afraid to look like they think something's cool, because they fear the labeling that comes along with it. You come across a Knight Rider T-shirt at Goodwill and at first your heart leaps... Knight Rider! That's so cool! But wait... if you buy it, people will think you're wearing it to be retro, because that's cool. Nope; must avoid the appearance of trying to be cool.

God fucking forbid anything or anyone be desired or admired because of being cool. EVERY FUCKING THING had better be "authentic", or YOU WILL BE JUDGED, AND FOUND WANTING.

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Re: Post-Irony
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2017, 07:21:02 pm »
I get what you and Wallace are saying, I'm just getting stuck on calling it "irony".

Eh, I don't want to derail.  I'll keep reading.

Oh, and you should totally see the movie Pecker.

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Re: Post-Irony
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2017, 10:49:05 pm »
I am liking sincerity more and more. I feel like gen-x really did irony to death, and then it lived on as a zombie, and much like zombies and zombie-themed merchandise WOULDN'T FUCKING DIE even when it was long past its sell-by date.
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”


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Re: Post-Irony
« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2017, 10:52:22 pm »
I'm jumping in here a little un-prepared, but who cares.  Fucking irony, yeah, I agree with DFW.  I also think his movement toward "new sincerity" struck me as being somewhat inauthentic and rehabilitated.  This is probably the result of my own different projections on the nature of "recovery" interfering with themselves.  This is not to detract from my rejection of irony, rather to indicate the insidious way that it infects us with its weakness. 

If it does serve as a tool for deconstruction, strong enough to dismantle even Itself, then what the fuck is it's business bolstering ego's and shielding fragments of self?  If irony were presented with it's own groundlessness, it would run off like a hysterical child screaming into the abyss.

If irony does indicate an absence, at least it can be full of a "positive-indeterminate"?

Now off to read what all this new sincerity clap-trap is about :lulz:
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Cramulus

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Re: Post-Irony
« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2017, 11:34:33 pm »
from
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Sincerity#As_a_cultural_movement

Quote
...[Radio host Jesse] Thorn characterizes New Sincerity as a cultural movement defined by dicta including "Maximum Fun" and "Be More Awesome". It celebrates outsized celebration of joy, and rejects irony, and particularly ironic appreciation of cultural products.... A typical explication of Thorn's concept is this 2006 "Manifesto for the New Sincerity":

Quote

What is The New Sincerity? Think of it as irony and sincerity combined like Voltron, to form a new movement of astonishing power. Or think of it as the absence of irony and sincerity, where less is (obviously) more. If those strain the brain, just think of Evel Knievel. Let's be frank. There's no way to appreciate Evel Knievel literally. Evel is the kind of man who defies even fiction, because the reality is too over the top. Here is a man in a red-white-and-blue leather jumpsuit, driving some kind of rocket car. A man who achieved fame and fortune jumping over things. Here is a real man who feels at home as Spidey on the cover of a comic book. Simply put, Evel Knievel boggles the mind. But by the same token, he isn't to be taken ironically, either. The fact of the matter is that Evel is, in a word, awesome. . . . Our greeting: a double thumbs-up. Our credo: "Be More Awesome". Our lifestyle: "Maximum Fun". Throw caution to the wind, friend, and live The New Sincerity.

In a September 2009 interview, Thorn commented that "new sincerity" had begun as "a silly, philosophical movement that me and some friends made up in college" and that "everything that we said was a joke, but at the same time it wasn’t all a joke in the sense that we weren’t being arch or we weren’t being campy. While we were talking about ridiculous, funny things we were sincere about them."

that last part sounds really familiar

don't read the part that comes later about adult MLP fans.

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Re: Post-Irony (& The New Sincerity)
« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2017, 02:45:44 am »
There certainly comes a point where avoiding having genuine values makes things easier. Nothing to get poked, nothing flawed that somebody can make a hilariously mocking meme.

I guess before I came to Discordia I was overly sincere, missing the other bit that allowed me to discern between things I liked or values I had and my WHOLE SELF.

Then, for a while, that constant lock-picking and deconstructing did get into almost all aspects of my life. To a point that's still true. I was born a Discordian, even when I was a newage idiot I never got along with any others. It's easier to see flaws in logic in others.

But you have to settle the minds constant tracking and hunting and find something with meat in it.

I was sort of apathetic politically until this last year. I just thought, "MEH, they're all the same." Now, even though I know there are flaws with it, I am very committed to doing my part in preserving the fabric of society. Mostly because of the concerted effort in the other direction.

Meaning to say: maybe living with constant irony crumbles in the face of actual danger.

Also, it's just nicer having things to care about. It creates a more fertile soil for the mind, I think.
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Re: Post-Irony (& The New Sincerity)
« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2017, 03:32:18 am »

Meaning to say: maybe living with constant irony crumbles in the face of actual danger.


That brings up the point that perhaps irony is the sole privilege of the relatively well-off. A parallel you could draw would be with the affected aristocratic languor of the nobility of days of yore. Perhaps cultivation of irony is a privilege of people without any significant, immediate threats to their day-to-day survival.   
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