Dylan Jones: 'Over the past 25 years, irony it has dominated our pop culture'

Share
Related Topics

While some like to say that irony was invented by Plato, as far as the entertainment industry is concerned, it reared its knowing, nodding felt head in the mid-to-late Eighties, roughly between the first sighting of Bruce Willis's smirk in Moonlighting, and Jack Nicholson's ya-gotta-love-me grin in Tim Burton's Batman.

For us, for me, irony was big. It seemed the natural conclusion of most post-modern experimentation. And what wasn't to like? It was designed to be playful, funny, diverting. In terms of pop culture it had actually started much earlier, almost as soon as the Eighties began, as each new pop genre made a nodding reference to the past. You only need to look at ABC ("Poison Arrow", "The Look of Love", "All of my Heart", etc) to understand just how soon tongue-in-cheek had become brass-in-pocket.

And now we're being told its time has been and gone. According to some critics, Hollywood has not only found a desire for more straightforward entertainment (always a sign of panic), but its audiences have also discovered a desire for more authenticity (unlikely, frankly). Hence a glut of columns asking where all the large polystyrene inverted commas have gone.

Well, I hate to burst the anti-irony bubble, but I actually popped it myself over 20 years ago, in a column in Arena, in an attempt to stop inverted commas being put around inverted commas. Then, over a decade later, years during which irony had defined both alt and mainstream culture (Quentin Tarantino, U2's disco period), irony was pronounced dead once again. After the 9/11 attacks, both Time and then Vanity Fair's Graydon Carter announced the death of irony, as though we couldn't work this out for ourselves.

But irony never goes away, it simply goes in and out of fashion. Over the past 25 years or so, it has become such a dominant strand of every part of the entertainment industry that is has almost become a genre in itself, and so consequently will never really die.

I mean, have you seen Lady Gaga?

Irony? It's the new irony. And I'm not even smirking.

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Chuka Umunna was elected MP for Streatham in 2010  

Could flirty Chuka Umunna be worth a punt for Labour’s top job?

Matthew Norman
 

One second Cameron cries for the Union, the next he’s joined the Poor Little Englanders

Matthew Norman
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits