Monday, January 20, 2014

Ironing Out Irony

It's not a pretty sight, watching Kathleen Wynne trying to convince people that her announcements of goodies in advance of by-elections has absolutely nothing to do with politics, and is completely free of the taint of self-interest. It makes your jaw drop in awe to hear someone say something so patently ridiculous. And that's the point. That's why she said it.

She said it because she believes it completely and earnestly and because she knows saying it will completely mess up your frame of reference and reduce you to a state of utter confusion, wherein you have no choice but to accept it.

I think, in 2014, we are moving towards a post-irony world, and Kathleen Wynne's tall tale is but one example. As a child of the irony saturated 1990's, accepting this fact has been the basis for whatever passes as my quarter-life crisis, but I think, thanks to Premier Wynne, that I am finally starting to get over it. I, and all of us, must learn to live in a culture where denial is not just a river in Egypt, and people operate in clouds of delusion and create hermetically sealed "spaces" where they receive statements reinforcing that delusion, which leads them to say and do things so mindbogglingly dumbfoundingly stupid that nobody can speak or think about anything else for an entire week or more.

We've seen this sort of thing come out of the celebrity world before. Most recently, "actor" Shia Labeouf made Internet headlines for first stealing someone else's idea lock, stock, and barrel for a screenplay he "wrote", then alternating between trying to justify his plagiarism and apologizing for that plagiarism in between dodging legal threats and getting into a fight in a pub in London, England. I can't stop reading this story. I can't stop reading the interview he gave where he claimed his plagiarism was performance art and that he was actually some kind of genius. You won't be able to stop reading either, which kind of lends credence to Labeouf's theory.

Or, if you don't like big-box Hollywood insanity and would like something a little more free-range and grass-rootsy, I'd like to introduce you to Tumblr, which is effectively Stormfront for millennial social justice activists.

Picture, if you will, a kind of online mass protest against oppression of all sorts, kind of like the Occupy movement or the Red Squares, except this particular protest does not interact with the real world in any way. On Tumblr, celebrities are called out for being racist and for cultural appropriation without anyone actually interacting with the celebrities in question and doing any actual calling out to the celebrity's face. On Tumblr, people discuss why it is acceptable to discriminate against white, wealthy, male and otherwise privileged individuals but are quick to add that such discrimination is not and can never be racism. On Tumblr, people contribute to an ever growing list of why commonly used phrases, cultural practices, methods of dress, and other things you don't think twice about constitute rape and/or oppression. On Tumblr, people claim they are raising awareness about social problems but refuse to "educate their oppressors" about their (always) unconscious role in perpetuating those problems. (Also, there's a lot more free porn.) If you're a conservative, you're probably not going to be able to handle the raw experience right away, so I'd recommend starting with this tumblr, which is dedicated to mocking the other ones, and then moving slowly past that.

Tumblr proves that there are thousands upon thousands of young, educated, fashionable and cosmopolitan individuals who have retreated so deeply into self-constructed fortresses of denial that they cannot tell the difference between rebreathing the brainfarts of their online pals and actual social change, between the kind of oppression perpetuated by out-of-control governments who can and do turn entire economies upside down and the kind of oppression that comes from having your feelings hurt by something Phil Robertson said, between- and this explains the Bridget DePapes of the world quite neatly, I feel- revolutions in Tahrir Square and Ukraine and the kind of revolution that needs to occur here half a world away.

Tumblr works for the same reason that Kathleen Wynne's government works, for the same reason our movie theatres are filled with remakes, reboots, retreads and rewrites, for the same reason that having zillions of Twitter followers is now something to aspire to over having a legitimate job, for the same reason our airwaves and video game consoles and museums and stages and newspapers and bookstores are filled with the same kind of boring, safe, traditional appeal-to-all-audiences pap that still manages somehow to unintentionally offend the entire world from time to time- but no matter, because no real lasting harm is ever done, no one is ever punished, evil does not exist, and good always wins out in the end. Kathleen Wynne's total refusal to admit that she is motivated by self interest is so in step with our mass-deluded, hope-doped culture that is in itself an attempt to flee from the harsh economic realities inflicted upon us by well-meaning governments like hers that it's a wonder people aren't making bobbleheads of her to go along with the ones of Ford.

Again without the slightest bit of irony, progressives like to wag their fingers at us and say that the advent of Fox News and Sun News and other conservative content generators are dangerous because of the "narrow worldview" that they promote. But as we all know, we conservatives are the Emmanuel Goldsteins of this liberal 1984. We embody everything inside of them that they don't like and that they cannot come to terms with.

We, because we accept (if only on a theoretical level, sometimes) the existence of evil and the idea of personal responsibility, are way better able to handle our feelings being hurt. Kathleen Wynne cannot, which is why she cannot admit she timed funding announcements to coincide with byelections even though that is what she so obviously did. Tumblr social justice activists cannot handle the concept of personal responsibility because that means they might conceivably be to blame for something or that they might have to get off their computers and leave their comfortable bubbles and go take a stand.

There is no clearer proof of the correctness of the conservative point of view than the enormous dust storms of denial progressives throw up when confronted with the fact that their own behavior is no different from ours. They are self interested, they seek other people's wealth and privilege, they reinforce their own so-called "narrow" worldviews and are no more open-minded than the worst of the worst of the Tea Party.

They will never, ever, escape this truth no matter how much they hide, and that is why we always win in the end.

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