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Amidst all this talk of KYLIE and TOM JONES and withall the attendant - or not - IRONY, it just suddenly struck me with quite forceful clarity that I'm really not sure I know what "irony" means in this context; i.e., I don't think I've ever liked or loved anything "ironically", in fact, I wouldn't begin to know what that entailed.

Duke Ellington I think it was famously said: there's only two types of music - good or bad.
Which, whatever your opinion of such pre-pomo surety, what he didn't say was: "Oh, and a third category - stuff that you only deign to "love" between scare quotes becoz you're a pathetic trendy who's too scared of your own desires and/or your social standing to let laughter BURST free from you like a geyser or genuine pleasure to LIGHT up your face & body like a thousand suns ..."

No more than a kiss or a clasp or a tender gaze can be put between scare quotes.

Alvays coming and going, and going and coming ...
... and always too ironically.

- ---- +

Context and power and the contextual power of reiteration are involved here.

Power = the power of TV companies and ad agencies to lower the quality beam in the name of "irony", i.e., scrape the very bottom of the barrel of old movies we've got and shove the second On The Buses film out cos apparently "irony" is the "in" thing nowadays but HEY it saves US money better spent on innovation or difficult but terrifyingly sincere European movies so who cares who's gonna write a thesis on it?

Reiteration = Kylie's "Can't Get You Out of My Head" e.g., which - like Madonna's "Music" is a record I loved to hear on radio, video, jukebox, dancefloor, etc, but it never crossed my mind to ever to sit down and play it at home: I dont think that is what it is FOR. It's a record to FORGET ... and then, be ambushed by it at some later date, and FLASH! love it all over again, and then forget, and then ... Pop as Eternal [45 rpm] Return. Which, both records - but especially the insistent mecanik affirmation of "Can't" - surely enact, both lyrically and musically?

Context = ... well, here's two examples.
In the grey grey days of 1979, someone from the Scritti Collective [Simon Emmerson?] dragged me along to a drear, dank pub in Kings Cross {in 1979, ALL pubs were drear and dank*} for A Meeting in an upstair's room to discuss {I think} some kind of nascent Rock Against Sexism project. Simon E. was getting nervier and nervier, giving out with those fake 'guffaw guffaw' {are THEY "ironic"?} flopsweat type laughs which indicate something's way off-key WRONG and YOU haven't woken up to what it is yet.

And it was like: O-h really IAN, come ON! Look where we are! You're just being ... "ironic" right? The problem was, I'd drifted off into a lager-limned reverie and was distracted by, entranced by, and GENUINELY splutteringly thigh-slappingly LAUGHING OUT LOUD AT a Benny Hill show showing on the drear dank pub's TV set. It was, I think, this really silly but really clever Two Ronnies-meet-Jean Luc Godard thing involving clumsy malaprop cuts and edits and jumps (and the resultant linguistic mayhem) in a piece of faux old sophisticated film. I was crying with laughter. (A sure sign things AREN'T IRONIC.) This was deftly daft, delirious comedy: it really was.

I looked up to see all these stern, disapproving faces. And donkey jackets. (Really! Cliches don't become cliches without some basis in historical truth!}

I was banned from the upstairs meeting. (Another sure sign things have gone beyond "ironic".) So much for all the Kristeva and Irigaray quotes and the Meaghan Morris articles I had up my sleeve. Huh. Their loss.
{Ego? Moi?}

*{so, if in 2003, some brewery got a design team to help them bring out a chain of deliberately drear, dank 1979 "style" pubs - that's what we mean by "irony" nowadays, right? Or is it just Kapital doing what it always does? Hoping the market will respond to one more kink or flyer or permutation? Like, the fuckers could CARE LESS if it's "ironic" or "po mo," if the investors have big Fat Cat That Just Decapitated The Mouse smiles on their sweaty faces?}

That was 1979. We'all didn't know about IRONY back then, not like all ye young dudey whippersnappers with yer 100 Greatest Misogynist Cop Aw Only Kidding! Lists...

Which brings us to Example Two...

PM as in POMO and IP as in INDIE PORN...?

... and an e-mail I got from Paul Morley a few years back, in which he relayed the (to me, at least) VERY surprising news that he'd been talking to James Brown and Brown had been all like, "We Are Not Worthy' becoz apparently me and Paul and our early 80s NME putsch in re cocktails for tea/Erroll's Diary/fuck rockism & hooray for jouissance - Paul's yeeha for pure pop for unironic people, and my sneaky refs to weird sex and white lines, and both of our COMPLETELY UNIRONIC celebration of TV HEROES - yea, apparently all this has been one of the major influences on ... yep, the monster that became LOADED.

Well, pick all the "irony" you want out of that.

{The post-Loaded exercise of "tits oot for the lads" irony ... is a whole other piece. [Which I actually wrote, twice, round about 1996, if I remember correctly.] But let us just note the abject failure of C4's last (gasp) post-Loaded fling: the execrable Boys + Girls ...

+ ---- +

Glad to see that Mark-punk picked up on the sweet, sad, smart "This is a True Story" documentary.

I saw (and taped) it a few weeks ago when it was on at 7.30 on a Friday night and thought it was marvellous, literally, and v. haunting and strangely moving. {Good use of electronica lite musick, too.}

I don't know if C4's late night [re]scheduling of it directly after FARGO last night counts as some kind of intended "irony" ... I do know that I tried to [re]view Fargo itself again and gave up in ... I dunno: not even desperation or distaste or anything particularly tangible or concrete. I just didn't care. On any level.

Is It Just Me, Or - The Coen Brothers? are they the single most overrated unit/mythos in modern cinema or what? There are often moments of near-punctum pleasure provided by the cool actors they choose {eg, most notably, Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski}, but I have been consistently amazed by the gap between the near hysterical hype which greets each new Coen Bros product ... and how completely unmoved I am by it. And again, is it just me, or - do ALL their films always feel about 20 mins or half an hour too long? As if a series of mock endings have been tacked on or tried out because they just don't have the emotional depth or non-ironic balls to just straight-up opt for a truly convincingly resonant, human arc?}

Some kind of nadir, I think, was experienced, when I was dragged along to see the last [?] one, the b/w one, The Man Who ... whatever it was, I dunno, I forget, Smoked A Lot? The Man Who ... Forgot Which Particular Far Superior Noir Classic This Was Supposed To Be A Clever (IRONIC?) Pastiche Of?

Didn't that win some kind of major prize, too?
Now that's ironic.

NON IRONIC* Recommendation

BBC2 11:20 pm tonight:

*{Actually: subliminal & unstated "irony": I grew up, the first 15 years of my life, on R.A.F. bases ...

posted by Ian 7/29/2003 07:30:00 PM

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