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Quirk Off!

Just wanted to give Michael Hirschorn a big thumbs down for his recent ARTICLE about quirkiness in The Atlantic.

Listen to this:

“Like the proliferation of meta-humor that followed David Letterman and Jerry Seinfeld in the ’90s, quirk is everywhere because quirkiness is so easy to achieve: Just be odd … but endearing. It becomes a kind of psychographic marker, like wearing laceless Chuck Taylors or ironic facial hair—a self-satisfied pose that stands for nothing and doesn’t require you to take creative responsibility. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”

He goes on to praise the recent film “Knocked Up” as an “almost 100 percent quirk-free summer comedy” because it “dares to matter” instead of taking the ironic, detached posture of quirkiness.

So many problems with this … where to begin?

First the entire article compares good “mainstream comedy” with bad quirk.  Knocked Up goes against The Life Aquatic (I guess many people thought it was good — I thought it was just OK). What about the other mainstream comedies that “dare to matter” and deal with everyday issues like the new Adam Sandler film “I Now Pronounce you Chuck and Larry?”  What about the comedies that “dare to matter” and suck?

Also, I don’t think it’s “easy” to be David Cross or Flight of the Conchords.  There a lot of crappy quirkiness that never makes it to mainstream media precisely because it’s quirky (and often sucky).  Quirk is important.  It reminds us of what it feels like to be out of the mainstream. It encourages us to be different, have strange ideas, disagree, rebel, and have fun doing it.  It is not a stance that is devoid of meaning.

Hirschorn calls David Byrne the father of quirk. Was that the beginning of the end of modern culture for him?  What a shame he doesn’t seem to understand it. It’s just another artistic stance, and it hasn’t happened at the expense of other things that “dare to matter.”

(I do agree with him that “This American Life” is pretty lame.  Though I wouldn’t describe it as quirky so much as gliberal*)

* “gliberal” was invented by Antoine Wilson and refers to quite a few things on NPR.