If the prototypical highly educated, white, 20-something city dweller is a skinny dude in a vintage Stryper T-shirt with elaborate facial hair, then The New York Times is the used-to-be-cool middle-aged parent squinting skeptically at that clothing and mustache, trying to figure out whether this is all a joke at her expense. It has now been almost two years since Brian Williams, who was already over 50 at the time, shamed the paper of record for treating Brooklyn and its denizens with a condescending brand of anthropological wonder. But The Gray Lady just can’t leave so-called “hipsters” alone.
The latest entry in what will probably one day be compiled into the worst book ever written is “How to Live Without Irony,” a dire op-ed by Princeton French professor Christy Wampole that begins with the bold pronouncement, “If irony is the ethos of our age — and it is — then the hipster is our archetype of ironic living.” But it isn’t just the time-machine-to-2002 vibe of the piece that’s got Twitter in a spin; it’s the imprecise definition of “irony,” the tired hand-wringing about modern technology, the laughable insistence that the ’90s of the author’s youth was irony-free, the contention that “nonironic living” is now so endangered that its practitioners are limited to “very young children, elderly people, deeply religious people, people with severe mental or physical disabilities, people who have suffered, and those from economically or politically challenged places where seriousness is the governing state of mind.”
If you were to construct a Reactionary Social Criticism Bingo card, this essay would provide no shortage of paths to victory. But since that might be considered an “ironic” way to respond to the piece, let’s go a different route. After years of publishing articles that misunderstand and indict young adults, the Times deserves to have the tables turned. So now it’s time to engage in some rapid-fire deconstruction of the op-ed and its author. Below, we’ve formulated 15 ways of looking at “How to Live Without Irony.”
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