Ironic Authenticity   Leave a comment

As evidenced in the title of this chapter, Amber Day actually uses irony to make her case that irony, contrary to the beliefs of many, should not be dismissed and should be given more credit, for it serves many purposes.  The purpose that she defends the most throughout this chapter is that of irony being a sort of bridge between Americans and the political world.

Her main adversary that she critiques is Jedidiah Purdy, whose book For Common Things serves as a very outspoken opinion that basically sums up irony as something that should not be taken seriously and should not be a real form of persuasion or news.  Day refers to Purdy many times throughout the entire chapter, rebutting many of his claims.  She first gives him a fair summary and even refers to critics who praised his work, showing that he is no straw man that she intends to strike down to make herself look more knowledgable.  She refers to Dave Eggers’s book A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius as an opposite to Purdy’s.  Eggers’s book “uses a clever, tongue-in-cheek approach as an effective way of imbuing the story with insight and genuine feeling” (32).  Published near the same time, it can be viewed as a rebuttal to the assertions made by Purdy.  Day reinforces her recurring message, irony and sincerity are not mutually exclusive.

Focusing on the political aspect of irony, Day refers to the all-too-common agenda of mainstream media to just robotically support and reinforce the words and ideas of the government, in the hopes of remaining on the winning side.  In this lack of journalistic originality, a large number satirists have seized this opportunity to present their thoughts, using irony.  For example, The Onion was one of the few voices that challenged the Bush administration’s either/or choice of Good versus Evil following 9/ll.  The Onion uses irony to show that the government is wrong in their claim that there are strictly two sides, and if a person is not on one side, then they are on the other side.

Day also uses viral vides to make her case, specifically the ones created near the end of the 2008 presidential election.  Through descriptions of these videos, Day again points out that irony and earnestness can be used at the same time.  These videos have definite intended responses and outcomes, but they attempt to elicit these responses through a very wry tone.  An example would be Sarah Silverman’s video ironically explaining why elderly Jewish people in Florida should vote for Obama.  “Throughout the ad, Silverman mixes real, persuasive details with more facetious ones” (36).  Day also refers to a couple MoveOn videos that use irony and satirical strategies to gain support for Obama.  One video parodies anti-drug and anti-alcohol commercials and talks about the recklessness of voting for McCain and Palin.  Another video shows the outcome after the specific viewer of the video did not vote for Obama, and thus the nation has become totally Republican, and “the United States could start bombing Iran in a matter of days” (38).  In both videos there are very real messages being voiced, yet they are being voiced through irony.

Day holds that irony connects us to the political world.  It is not something that should be dismissed as shallow sarcasm.  Her last sentence states, “Thus, irony is not inseparably linked to cynicism; instead, oddly perhaps, it appears that, for many, irony is becoming a new marker of sincerity” (42).  Very cleverly, she actually uses irony in her statement to conclude the chapter regarding irony.


Posted November 15, 2011 by samkite12 in Uncategorized

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