Day’s “Ironic Authenticity” -Bryn Stotmeister   Leave a comment

Day presents a strong overview and opinion on the controversy of how our society shapes irony and how that irony shapes our society. Her strategy of presenting her opinion, in opposition, is to give a fully detailed context of the controversy and the different views held, and then offer her counterargument which doesn’t refute the opposing argument but merely claims that there is more to it and argues for why her position would be found stronger.

After a very thorough description of the opinion help by her opposition, Purdy, she goes on to give an even more thorough description of the opinion held by other known “expert” writers, namely Slate writer Michael Hirschorn, David Beers of Salon and novelist Dave Eggers. This way, she gives the full context of what the controversy is and gives the opinions and names of the known outspoken “experts” within the controversy, leaning more heavily to the description of the opinion in which she also shares and agrees. While I feel her strategy is one closer to counterargument, one hole she does pick at is Purdy’s overgeneralized use of the word irony, which she dismisses as irrelevant by “[using] the term quite sloppily.” She finally asserts her own opinion stating, “I clearly orient to irony as a mode of engagement rather than as a cynical dismissal of politics,” but directly after she identifies some common ground and concedes with the opposition slightly. She basically asks is he right in some instances, answering in agreement, “Absolutely,” and then inserts the big “but.” Her counterargument commences here, where she doesn’t necessarily break down the opposing opinion, but rather explains and gives her supporting evidence why her opinion, that irony is promoting political engagement and activism, is the stronger and persuades that it outweighs her opposition. In conclusion, she indicates her agreements by actually agreeing and contending that yes her opposition could be right in some instances and giving ample context and evidence to that end. However, to indicate her disagreements, while she never explicitly disagrees outright, she conveys her opposing opinion by offering her more strongly supported and detailed counterargument.

Day supports her claims with an analysis of timely ironic video clip examples during the 2008 elections. One video she breaks down is “The Great Schlep,” a satirical clip by the nonprofit Jewish Council for Education and Research staring Sarah Silverman that uses irony to persuade the “media-savy” young Jewish generation to get their grandparents to move their “fat Jewish asses,” vote for Obama and “change the world.” Her claims are that the video “simultaneously acts as a parody of typical advocacy advertisements while also earnestly functioning as one of these ads itself.” She claims that it does this by making fun of itself, its genre and common stereotypes while also acting “on a very real mission” to sincerely motivate and inspire political action in its audience, a view in stark contrast to irony only fostering a lack of political concern and responsibility.

Day clarified and explained some large arcs and reasoning behind satire that I had never even considered. She also taught me theories of recent ironic evolution in our country related to current events and societal mindsets and pursuasions. I really enjoyed reading this article for the facinating context and the detailed description of two main views within the interesting controversy of irony’s hidden agendas or lack thereof. This text greatly reaffirmed my decision and even increased my interest to take rhetoric of satire through educating me in the recent history and evolution of American satire. I just wish I would have read this and gained the knowledge and fascination at the start of the semester and course.*


-Bryn Stotmeister

*Maybe giving this to students to read at the beginning of the course would spark some intrigued interest in the analysis and creation of the rhetoric of satire, and then given again to read at this point in our learning of rebuttal arguments to learn the precise strategies in how Day makes her argument.


Posted November 15, 2011 by brynstotmeister in Uncategorized

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