Posts tagged “irony”

ChittahChattah Quickies

I gave a talk recently where I advocated for the importance of being aware of pop culture; this led to an interesting conversation (where not all parties agreed with my proposal). This set of quickies is dedicated to pop-culture-specific examples of note.

‘Les Misérables’ and Irony [NYT] – While I haven’t seen (and don’t plan to see) this movie (the stage show was enough for a lifetime), this analysis of the film’s cultural performance (and why that may explain it’s appeal to some) is pretty wonderful.

The key to what is intended by these technical choices was provided for me by Hooper himself when he remarked in an interview (also printed in USA Today) that while “we live in a postmodern age where a certain amount of irony is expected, [t]his film is made without irony.” Irony is a stance of distance that pays a compliment to both its producer and consumer. The ironist knows what other, more na?Øve, observers do not: that surfaces are deceptive, that the real story is not what presents itself, that conventional pieties are sentimental fictions.

The artist who deploys irony tests the sophistication of his audience and divides it into two parts, those in the know and those who live in a fool’s paradise. Irony creates a privileged vantage point from which you can frame and stand aloof from a world you are too savvy to take at face value. Irony is the essence of the critical attitude, of the observer’s cool gaze; every reviewer who is not just a bourgeois cheerleader (and no reviewer will admit to being that) is an ironist.

“Les Misérables” defeats irony by not allowing the distance it requires. If you’re looking right down the throats of the characters, there is no space between them and you; their perspective is your perspective; their emotions are your emotions; you can’t frame what you are literally inside of. Moreover, the effect – and it is an effect even if its intention is to trade effect for immediacy – is enhanced by the fact that the faces you are pushed up against fill the screen; there is no dimension to the side of them or behind them; it is all very big and very flat, without depth. The camera almost never pulls back, and when it does so, it is only for an instant.

Netflix to Deliver All 13 Episodes of ‘House of Cards’ on One Day [NYT] – I’m intrigued by how technology affords shifts in media consumption and then how those shifts inform the content of the media itself.

Netflix will release a drama expressly designed to be consumed in one sitting: “House of Cards,” a political thriller starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. Rather than introducing one episode a week, as distributors have done since the days of black-and-white TVs, all 13 episodes will be streamed at the same time. “Our goal is to shut down a portion of America for a whole day,” the producer Beau Willimon said with a laugh. “House of Cards,” which is the first show made specifically for Netflix, dispenses with some of the traditions that are so common on network TV, like flashbacks. There is less reason to remind viewers what happened in previous episodes, the producers say, because so many viewers will have just seen it. And if they don’t remember, Google is just a click away. The show “assumes you know what’s happening all the time, whereas television has to assume that a big chunk of the audience is always just tuning in,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer.

Muzak, Background Music to Life, to Lose Its Name [NYT] – Do we mourn when a derided brand goes away? The awful experiences that brand promised us – and perhaps much much worse – still seem to be on offer. I will shed no tear.

The Muzak name – long part of the American vernacular, if sometimes as the butt of jokes – will be retired this week as part of a reorganization by its owner, Mood Media. The company is consolidating its services under a single brand, Mood, thus eliminating the Muzak name…”We have a team of music gurus, visual specialists, sound and scent-tech experts,” Mr. Abony said. “We develop compelling, consistent experiences that connect our clients with their customers. The new brand signifies the integration of the company.”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • DEVO – Focus Group Testing the Future [YouTube] – Filled with brilliantly sarcastic soundbites, this is definitely pushing on post-modernism/post-irony. DEVO doing focus group testing (or so they say) on every aspect of their 2010 offering (brand, logotype, instrumentation, clothing). Interesting also to see how this appears in the press with varying amounts of the irony removed.
  • Theater Preshow Announcements Take Aim at Cellphones [] – In a production of “Our Town” the director, David Cromer, who played the Stage Manager, took a minimal approach because he wanted to stay true to Thornton Wilder’s desire to forgo conventional theatrics. “In that show we had this issue, which is that there was to be no theater technology. The whole act of my entrance was that you were supposed to think it was someone from the theater,” Mr. Cromer explained. “We didn’t want the Stage Manager to come out and say, ‘Please turn your cellphones off,’ because that would be rewriting Wilder.” Instead Mr. Cromer simply held up a cellphone upon entering at the beginning of each act and then turned it off and put it away, casually showing the audience what to do without talking about it. “The first time I was watching another actor take over in the show as the Stage Manager,” Mr. Cromer said, “he came out, held his cellphone in the air, and the woman next to me said, ‘Oh, someone lost their cellphone.’ ”

Risks of smartass system messages

I got a 500 Internal Server Error on YouTube yesterday.

It began with the usual Web 2.0 PoMo post-ironic stuff.

Sorry, something went wrong.

A team of highly trained monkeys has been dispatched to deal with this situation.

And then what seemed to be a more serious request, complete with link

In any case, please report this incident to customer service.
Also, please include the following information in your error report:

Hmm. What do information do they want me to include?


Now, are they being smartass or serious? Yeah, cut and paste is cut and paste whether it’s two lines or two paragraphs, but that mass of computer gibberish is something they want me to use to communicate to a human? Strange and off-putting. Let’s put some of that Google money to work on that, folks…

We’ve gotta get these MF butts in the MF seats.

We saw Little Miss Sunshine on Saturday (highly recommended) in our first visit to a theater in months and months. The guy in front of us (English likely being a second language) asked for tickets to Snacks On A Plane (good luck, buddy, snack boxes are $5 now).

Anyway, at the risk of adding to a heavily crowded blog-topic, “Snakes on a Plane,” the wildly hyped high-concept movie, turned out to be a Web-only phenomenon this weekend, as that horror-comedy starring Samuel L. Jackson took in just $15.2 million at the box office in its opening days. The article runs through the history of the film and the hype and the marketing and the buzz pretty nicely, but did any of us expect it to do well? It seems like there’s some confusion between irony, post-irony, and post-post-irony…okay, that’s a lot of bullshit, but my way of saying that it can be fun to be involved with something that you know is crap, but that’s a very different sort of loyalty than, say, Harley-Davidson owners with company-logo tattoos and wardrobes that consist entirely of HOG-branded t-shirts.
Update: shortly after posting this I see on BoingBoing that a guy did indeed get a SoaP tattoo – I don’t think this changes my thesis, but it is ironic.

Studio sez: Hey, here’s a bad movie.
We say: Hey, that is a really bad movie. Ha-ha! We can’t believe how bad it is! You should, oh, I dunno, add some more cursing into it, heh heh, it’s soooo bad. It’s bad. A bad movie. Heh.
Studio sez: Yeah! It’s a BAAAAD bad movie. Here’s some more cursing. And more over-the-top bad stuff. We know you know it’s bad.
We say: Hey, they put more cursing into it! It’s pretty silly and funny and bad. It’s a bad movie.
Studio sez: You know that we know that you know it’s bad.
We say: Yeah, it’s a bad movie. Snakes on a plane, yo. Heh.
Your mom sez: Are you fellas going to see this snake movie?
We say: Hey! Bad movie! Snakes on a plane!
Studio sez: Here it is! The movie you have been talking about.

[crickets chirping]

Come on! How much appeal is there for crap, compared to the appeal of making fun of crap? Just because the studio got in on the fun, doesn’t mean anyone was really persuaded or had much intention. I guess a Rocky Horror cult particpation thing could have emerged (and still could; it’s early days, some of these films take on second and third and beyond lives), but it didn’t seem likely.

And as I posted before, the meme definitely jumped the shark. I don’t know if they talked about the movie on The View, but I wouldn’t be surprised. If being ironic is supposed to be cool, I don’t want Barbara Walters or Parade Magazine in on the joke with me.


It’s not a new phenomenon by any means, but the fake Amazon product reviews are hilarious and surreal. Is this subverting Amazon’s attempt at community building/crowdsourcing/whatever? How does Amazon decide when reviews are too far out or should they even?


Having spent 20 years in the Far East I returned to Blitey with a greying head of hair. This unforseen aging process also affected my tash. Now, a tash is the signature of a Far East Expat, everyone knows that. So, yes hullo, I had to try and salvage what dignity I had.

I first of all tried to dye my tash. This resulted in me going to A&E for severe burns to the upper lip and they had to shave my white tickler off. I was distraught. I had an important meeting with some government ministers the following week and I would never grow my pride and joy back in time.

Hense my intro to FAKE MUSTACHE – 6 WAY. I was saved, and I had 5 spares incase number 1 fell into my beer.

My meeting with the governement ministers went very well indeed and everyone commented on how good I looked and how my tash had grown to a quality expat thickness.

I now no longer grow my natural tash as ‘6 WAY’ is more versatile and I can put it to bed at night (I have a little action man bunkbed for him) meaning I dont have a shabby tash in the morning.

Hurrray for 6 WAY.

Yes hullo…


Is there a man, woman, or child who would not benefit from ownership of a FAKE MUSTACHE – 6 WAY? I think not. Once the crucial element of Rosalind’s transformation in Shakespeare’s As You Like It, now the centerpiece of my casual Friday wear, the FAKE MUSTACHE – 6 WAY is as timeless as hair itself.

The product ships with an extensive manual describing the different curves the moustache can take, but neglects to list the six accepted ways of wearing the hairpiece:

1) Below the nose, above the lip: the classic; highly recommended.

2) Atop a bald head, in lieu of a toupee: be careful when removing your bowler.

3) On one’s right-hand index finger: briefly popular during the Victorian era; long out of favor in polite society.

4) On one’s bait and tackle: a delightful surprise. Ladies love this, as will your fellow fishermen.

5) Atop one’s feet: requires two moustaches. One bare foot looks ridiculous.

6) On the cheek: a jaunty variant of the classic upper palate.

It saddens me that I need to say this, but I have seen too many neglected moustaches to remain silent: please, gentlemen, take care of your moustache! I heartily recommend Colonel Ichabod Conk’s Moustache Wax. If you can withstand the Colonel’s grim visage staring at you from beyond the grave (and the side of the jar), your FAKE MUSTACHE – 6 WAY will thank you for the much-needed wax job.

A toy for someone you love

Here’s a nice toy – your very own cuddly facehugger from the Alien movies. I’m sure you remember how it wrapped around the guy’s face and laid an egg in his stomach and then the egg hatched and burst through his chest.

Now you can get your very own.

I saw this in a toy store in Toronto and have been meaning to post it here, but was finally spurred to do so when I saw it on we make money not art via this blog (who points out there is a chest-burster toy as well. Nice.)

But what I’ve got special for you is the warning label on the package.

Choking hazard!

Business Code of Ethics

CoVisp‘s About Us page offers a (now offline) link to their Business Code of Ethics but the entire page is obviously copied-and-pasted from corporate text at XO.COM.


While other companies are talking about making telecommunications simple, XO actually delivers simplicity without compromising the level of service that business customers expect. XO is able to cut through the clutter in the telecom space and offer businesses what they need: a reliable, end-to-end source for telecom services with a broad product suite backed by trustworthy, dependable customer service. XO offers new customers a no-risk satisfaction guarantee on standard products and services for the first three months after installation.

Everything You Want. Exactly What You Need.

Company Information
See why businesses just like yours have found a happy ending with the XO story.
* Proven Leadership and Innovation
* Network AssetsCustomer Centric
* Extensive Product Portfolio

Investors Center
View the latest financial information through a comprehensive listing of all XOÔø? Annual Reports, Quarterly Earnings Statements, and other pertinent financial news.

Business Code of Ethics
This document contains the XO Policy and Ethics for all XO employees, as required for posting by the SEC.

Interested in a career with a truly unique telecommunications company? Explore our career center for the latest job postings and company information. If you find the perfect listing, submit your resume online.

The COVISP Network
XO has a unique ability to serve customers from premise-to-premise over XO facilities, ultimately ensuring the highest levels of performance and reliability. See what makes our network unique.


Description of a BitTorrent download
The Truth Behind The Gates of Auschwitz
Documentary. mpg. 60 mins. English.

This controversial documentary centers around Revisionist’s theories concerning the accuracy of the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp.

WARNING: Filmmaker/Narrator has an extremely annoying voice.

11 Japanese infected with hepatitis E after wild boar barbecue

Eleven people were found to have been infected with hepatitis E after barbecuing and eating wild boar meat in the woods of Nagasaki Prefecture in March last year

And Google Ads on that page included:

Old World Smoked Meats
Sausage varieties, hotdogs, jerky. Specialty meats, elk, venison.

Premium Elk Meat
Succulent, tender, protein rich and lean farm raised gourmet elk meat.

Safari Snacks
Big game and exotic snack sticks Great taste, premium quality

Alligator Tail Meat
frozen, vac-pac delivered overnight to your door.

Mmmm, tasty!

Where bad people live

Australian paper’s rundown of Saddam’s environs

In the hut, Hussein slept in a bedroom screened by a dirty yellow scrap of curtain, surrounded by fly spray cans and insect repellent creams. About 20 Arabic books were on a small bookshelf, including a translation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. At the back was a small closet-size toilet and a shower.
But despite months on the run, Hussein continued to pay attention to his personal hygiene. On top of the fridge lay a lavender-scented vanity bag and a bottle of moisturising cream, next to a bottle of Lacoste Pour Homme cologne and a canister of minted toothpicks.
The bedroom was filled with men’s clothes, including new shirts and socks still in their wrappers, suggesting Hussein had shopped recently. A gold-plated mirror hung in a corner.

Especially interesting because the US news channels are taking a strange glee in describing the disgusting squalor and bad personal care of the place he was hiding, with galling moral twist, that for someone who was once so powerful to be living so poorly he must really truly be a bad person. Seemingly ignoring the fact that we know he was a mass-murderer, and that he had the entire US military after him and maybe grooming wouldn’t necessarily be first on his list. It’s one of those really messed up media angles that is trying way too hard to spin something, now with extra hyperbole. Bleggcch.


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