While flipping through the channels I cringe as I pass VH1 inflicting a decade-old Alanis Morrisette video on the masses. It’s that horrid “Isn’t It Ironic” single. Unfortunately it only takes a split second of insidious pap like that and my mind becomes corrupted.
It stands to reason that during the conception, writing, rehearsing, recording, mixing, promoting, and performing of the song in question there must have been at least several hundred thousand opportunities for someone — anyone — to step up to the plate and point out to Ms. Morrisette when it is appropriate to label something as ironic.
Maybe I’m being too much of a purist in my narrow interpretation of the term. Perhaps I should cut her some slack: she is, after all, a Canadian. As pervasive as irony has become in today’s society, the concept is misunderstood by a great many in the United States, the situation could be even worse north of the border.
A few years ago, while incarcerated in a Texas prison, I recall having a conversation wherein I mentioned that I was able to maintain a healthy attitude due to my ability to find humor in just about any situation. I said that I was on a constant lookout for irony. My cellmate, God bless him, told me that I should consider myself lucky if my clothes were laundered with detergent and that I would just have to live with wrinkled shirts because there was absolutely no “irony” going on down in the laundry.
But I digress: everything I can remember being described in that awful tune I would characterize as being nothing more than disappointing. allowing for plenty of interpretive leeway, I suppose it’s conceivable that some of the lyrical scenarios depicted might qualify for an adjective such as unfortunate, but I can recall none that meet the criteria necessary to be appropriately labeled “ironic.” “Like rain on your wedding day”? Well that’s too bad, Alanis, however it might be more ironic if your groom in the song was the local weatherman.
With that in mind, the next channel I happen upon is broadcasting one of those half-hour commercials for the Sharper Image’s “ionic breeze. I think it’s supposed to be an air purifier or something along those lines. It would be quite an understatement to point out that I am not a fan of the infomercial, but I understand how it might take an entire half hour to explain why anyone should be willing to pay $349.94 for an air purifier. Especially since the thing has none of the usual parts that might be thought of as potentially expensive. Parts like a motor or fan or obvious source of power. I don’t know, I could be wrong; maybe it’s worth far more than $350 to harness the magical power of the ion.
I had an air purifier/smoke-eater that I had purchased at one of the large discount retailers last year for $39. It had an “ionizer” button on it (the magic ion again) but had relied on electricity to power it. I presume the unsightly cord, the “whisper” fan, and it’s decidedly non-futuristic reliance on electricity necessitated the asking price of about $300 less than that of the ionic breeze.
That banal Alanis Morrisette song kept bouncing around inside my skull and about the forty-ninth time that I thought I heard the chorus repeat, I began thinking that what the Sharper Image should produce and market is an “Ironic Breeze.” A high-tech gizmo that would employ space-age technology to remove all irony from a room. Just think of the possibilities… grandparents could once again understand what kids are really talking about. The trendy could put down their trucker hats. Hipsters would be free of the burning need for a “vintage” Foghat 3/4 sleeve concert t-shirt.
Of course, sooner or later the cheaper imitations would start to pop up, but the Sharper Image has always been synonymous with quality (either that or it’s been synonymous with overpriced, completely unnecessary merchandise, I forget).
I can almost see it now… the financially compensated celebrity endorser pitching enthusiastically: “only ‘the Sharper Image Ironic Breeze’ can offer you separate cynicism reduction as well as sarcasm eradication controls.”
Here’s an inspired idea: perhaps Alanis Morrisette could sign an endorsement deal, become the face of an ad campaign and pitch the product in commercials. She seems to be quite the expert when it comes to irony.