Irony: the bane of our culture?

Irony sadly, is becoming a lost art form. By definition, irony is a situation that is strange or funny because things happen in a way that seems the opposite of what you expected.

English romance poet Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote that “poets are the unacknowleged legislators of the world.”

Too bad we don’t have more poets in Washington, D.C. I can think of a couple of dirty limericks told by, and about D.C., but I’ll stick with the following instead: “There was a young woman named Hall, who wore a newspaper dress to a ball. Her dress caught on fire, and burned her entire front page, sports section and all.”

Ironically, in the 19th Century, women wore dresses that we combustible.

Dramatic irony is having a president that used to be a reality star, yet he looks terrible on camera.

Not to mention that fact that our president puts the dope in dopamine, assuming he has two neurons to rub together. The man steps into an elevator, presses a button and waits for the candy to come out.

The man graduated West Point. His own college, Trump University, went belly up and a court approved a $25 million settlement with students who say they were duped by Trump.

And anyone who says he is a very stable genius, about himself, you just know has tried to order something from ACME because he saw it in a Roadrunner cartoon.

Trump irony? Trump’s in the middle of a reelection campaign. And when he approved a military strike that assassinated one of the most powerful people in Iran, Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, many experts called that “an act of war.” On Twitter, Trump justified the assassination by claiming that Suleimani “was plotting to kill many” Americans. During President Barack Obama’s tenure, however, Trump took a much more cynical view of the possibility of armed conflict with Iran during the lead up to a presidential election.

“In order to get elected, @BarackObama will start a war with Iran,” Trump tweeted in November 2011. Irony is a sassy bugger, eh?

Dramatic irony itself stretches from Shakespeare to Seinfeld. The latter typically had multiple plot lines and multiple ironic situations going on all at once. For example, Jerry goes on vacation with a girl to get closer to her but instead, it ruined the relationship. Kramer settles a million dollar plus lawsuit by making a deal to get himself on a billboard smoking in Times Square.

In the 1998 Farrelly brothers classic, “There’s Something About Mary,” Ben Stiller’s Ted finds himself in a wicked pickle, when he’s arrested. He thinks it’s for picking up a hitchhiker, but the police are interrogating him for murder, and the audience is in on it. Says Ted, “I’ve done it several times. It’s no big deal.” Farrelly irony.

There are countless, famed examples of irony in history — at the top of the list is the fact that in 1925, The New York Times declared that crossword puzzles weren’t going to catch on and folks would get tired of doing them on a weekly basis. Of course, today the New York Times is regarded as the gold standard for crossword puzzles, unless you’re the president, who calls it fake crosswords. What can I say, the man prefers ‘Mad Libs.’ And yet, he hates mad liberals. That’s irony smacking two stooges with one slap.

When the ancient Chinese first found gunpowder, they thought it was “an elixir of mortality.” We all know that to be wrong. MSG is the elixir of mortality.

So, where did we go right? Irony is now fashionable and considered the factory reset when it comes to social interaction. The Donald himself, made the saying, “You’re fired,” a staple of his “show.” In real life, and not reality TV, the man almost got fired himself. Ironic.

Speaking of which, consider Alanis Morisette’s song, “Ironic.” There were many heated debates when it came out in 1995 over whether the situations described in the song are actually ironic or just unfortunate incidents. And over the years there were more debates about whether the song really is ironic because it’s called “Ironic” but nothing in the song is ironic. Confused? Nope, just ironic.

In Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” Macbeth appears to be loyal to Duncan, but he is actually plotting his murder. Duncan doesn’t know Macbeth’s plans, but the audience knows what is going to happen.

Even the Bible is ironic, since it’s the most shoplifted book in America. Just be normal like everyone else, check into a motel, and read their copy.

Alcoholics Anonymous offers a little irony on the rocks. On his death bed, the founder of AA asked for a whiskey.

“A Charlie Brown Christmas,” decks the hall with bows of irony. It’s a movie about the over-commercialization of the holidays yet makes room for more commercials each year.

The man who invented the stop sign never learned how to drive a car. A firehouse catches fire. Even I know irony first-hand: My dog Bailey once chewed up his dog obedience school training certificate.

Irony knows no bounds. I read a post on Facebook by someone complaining about how useless Facebook is. The hook and jab of this is that the internet was created to save us time, yet we spend more time on it looking for things.

Locally, Merrimack County Sheriff Scott Hilliard plans to remain on the job despite a recent conviction for driving while intoxicated and calls for him to resign. The only thing slightly more ironic than this is when a police station gets robbed.

I think as we’re in an election year, Frederick Douglas said it best: “At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed.”

George Pelletier may be reached at gpelletier@nashuatelegraph.com. Ironically, he rarely checks his email.


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