I stole my blog title from Parks and Recreation, which is my favorite sitcom currently airing. The original line: “God, why does everything we do have to be cloaked in, like, 15 layers of irony?” It resonated with me the first time I heard it—you can tell because I made it a quote on my Facebook profile, the highest of all honors. But it makes sense to me. I’ve often been frustrated by my inability to do something for the sake of doing it. That sort of thing makes me miss sincerity.
And it’s partly my fault. I’ve embraced a whole lot of terrible because I’m amused by things that are bad. But do I own From Justin to Kelly ironically, or do I genuinely appreciate the trainwreck for what it is? I guess it’s a little of both: I like the movie (on some sick, masochistic level), but I also enjoy the irony of owning something that is most definitely not worth owning. (Related: Last Action Hero on Blu-ray is going for $6 on Amazon. Do I dare?) Perhaps the mere act of owning trash isn’t ironic. On the other hand, praising a movie like Valley of the Dolls as “great” surely is.
But it went past that in college, a time in which I did all sorts of not-that-fun activities because they sounded absurd and I wanted a good story to tell. I remember the first time I went to a frat party, but I can’t remember why. It smelled like cheap beer and cheap weed and B.O. (the consequence of wearing cheap deodorant). I was drinking, because this was before I realized I don’t like drinking or being drunk. And I’m sure I knew at the time that I had no real interest in being at a frat party (or most any parties, for that matter), but I went because it was something to laugh at. You know, a party to attend ironically.
Then there were things I did—and this was likely far more common—that I pretended to be disenfranchised from. And I think that’s why the Parks and Recreation quote really struck me. It’s not so much about doing things ironically as it is about pretending to do things ironically, which is actually way worse. It comes from a fear of genuine enthusiasm, of showing an unhip and unironic appreciation of shit. Like when someone looks at my DVDs and asks, “You own The Simple Life?” I say, “Yeah, I love it.” And he says, “But do you really?” How do I answer that in the affirmative without outing myself as a Paris Hilton fan? It’s less awkward to feign detachment.
I don’t do it as much anymore, since I’m trying to be more honest about my feelings in general. Besides, who cares if I love Paris Hilton? She looks like a bird, and that’s pretty great. But I also feel like doing things under the pretense of irony is a waste of time. I’d rather people know that I’m super into something than have them think I’m a facetious asshole. (I guess I can be both.) With that in mind, I’m not sure the title of this blog is appropriate to what I’m trying to do here, but I like it and I’m going to keep it. Please stop making me feel weird about it.
Incidentally, I stole my header from The Golden Girls, which is my favorite sitcom maybe ever. I never said I was a role model.