90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
The Case Against Irony

It’s hip. It’s big. Does it keep us from living a full life?

Hipster (GabeB/Flickr)

Hipster (GabeB/Flickr)

Who knew that irony could be such a hot topic?  Christy Wampole wrote an essay saying we live in the age of deep irony, and it’s cutting us off from life.  Everything’s an ironic pose, she said.  In our humor, our fashion, our politics, our advertising, our hipsters.  Direct candor has become unbearable.

Rampant sarcasm, she charged, rules the day.  And it’s killing us.  Well, that drew a blast in return.  Lay off the hipsters.  Know thyself.  This world deserves some irony.  It’s a new sincerity that’s really the news.

This hour, On Point:  Our culture, and the power of irony.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Christy Wampole, professor of French and Italian at Princeton University. She’s the author of a recent op-ed How to Live Without Irony.

Jonathan Fitzgerald, author of the forthcoming Not Your Mother’s Morals: How the New Sincerity Is Changing Pop Culture for the Better and the editor of Patrolmag.com.

From Tom’s Reading List

You can hear an archived On Point show about irony here.

New York Times “The hipster haunts every city street and university town. Manifesting a nostalgia for times he never lived himself, this contemporary urban harlequin appropriates outmoded fashions (the mustache, the tiny shorts), mechanisms (fixed-gear bicycles, portable record players) and hobbies (home brewing, playing trombone). He harvests awkwardness and self-consciousness. Before he makes any choice, he has proceeded through several stages of self-scrutiny.”

The Atlantic “Cultural critics love hypothesizing about hipsters. And certainly hipsters make for useful lab rats if you’re interested in the culture of young, gentrifying, trendy, affluent, and white college graduates. But it’s easy to let this hypothesizing go too far, and you get into trouble when you try to charge hipsters with representing the “ethos of our age.” They’re just kids making their way from young adulthood to the rest of their lives.”

Playlist

Losing my edge by LCD Soundstorm

I’m on a Boat by The Lonely Island

Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell by Shut Up, Dude Mixtape

Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley

Call Me Maybe by Fun

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Oct 1, 2014
Pro-democracy protesters hold umbrellas under heavy rain in a main street near the government headquarters in Hong Kong late Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. The protesters demanded that Hong Kong's top leader meet with them on Tuesday and threatened wider actions if he did not, after he said China would not budge in its decision to limit voting reforms in the Asian financial hub. (AP)

China, democracy and Hong Kong. They’re in the streets in Hong Kong with their “Umbrella Revolution.” What now?

Oct 1, 2014
Actress Eva Longoria, center, Henry R. Munoz III, co-founder of the Latino Victory Project, left, and Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, are seated at an event launching The Latino Victory Project, a Latino political action committee, at the National Press Club in Washington, Monday, May 5, 2014. (AP)

Latino America. It is very large and growing very fast. How will it move the country?

RECENT
SHOWS
Sep 30, 2014
In this Jan. 15, 2013, photo, Rosser Pryor, Co-owner and President of Factory Automation Systems, examines a new high-performance industrial robot at the company's Atlanta facility.  (AP)

Nicholas Carr says automation, all over, is turning us into zombies. Out of touch with the world. He’s with us.

 
Sep 30, 2014
St. Louis county police officers advance on protestors trying to shut down Interstate 70 in Berkeley, Mo. on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014 near the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo. where Michael Brown, an unarmed, black 18-year old was shot and killed by a white police officer on Aug. 9. (AP)

Police shootings, cop culture, body cameras. And the big debate over how to protect the public and the police.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Transcript: Peter Thiel Wants Us All To Go From ‘Zero To One’
Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014

Entrepreneur Peter Thiel on innovation, technological failure and humanity’s uncertain future.

More »
Comment
 
Transcript: Sexual Violence Under ISIS Control
Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014

A transcript from our September 25, 2014 conversation on the Islamic State and sexual violence.

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: September 26, 2014
Friday, Sep 26, 2014

All of you love to listen to old broadcasts when we play them, and Taylor Swift loves the Internet.

More »
Comment