Anorak News | Any Old Irony

Any Old Irony

by | 3rd, September 2002

‘AMERICANS and irony – where would newspapers be without this staple?

What easier way to appear superior than to trot out the old line about how the Yanks just don’t get it, and how our sophisticated sensibility is wasted our literal-minded colonial cousins.

Ben in search of irony

Of course, the same papers run endless articles extolling the virtues of such irony-free sitcoms as Frasier, Seinfeld and the rest, but this doesn’t seem to detract from the appeal of the basic prejudice.

But now the Guardian has bucked the trend – albeit in the form of a slightly sarcastic backhanded compliment.

”Quotes prove that American do have a sense of irony” it declares, having perused the new Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations.

And it gives examples. ”We don’t just have egg on our face. We have omelette all over ours suits” – Tom Brokow on Bush’s election.

”The American people have spoken – but it’s going to take a little time to determine what they said” – Bill Clinton. And so on.

All very interesting, but what does it prove? Nothing much – except that the Guardian’s idea of the meaning of irony is somewhat at odds with our own definition (not to mention that of the Oxford Concise Dictionary).

But no matter. The Guardian closes the piece with a gem from the comedic colossus that is Ben Elton.

”Uncool people never hurt anybody,” opines Britain’s answer to Oscar Wilde. ”All they do is collect stamps, read science fiction books and stand at the end of railway platforms staring at trains.”

Ironic or what, as Ben would no doubt say.

Posted: 3rd, September 2002 | In: Broadsheets Comment | TrackBack | Permalink