making it ironic (don’t you think)

Alanis_Morissette_-_Jagged_Little_Pill

Confession: I unabashedly love Alanis Morissette. My teenage self loved the angst (specifically the albums Jagged Little Pill, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, and Under Rug Swept), and my adult self actually loves her more, because teenage me had no idea what she was really on about, but adult me Gets It. Add a layer of 90s nostalgia on there, and this shit is timeless. Those CDs will be in my car until they crack.

But this post isn’t about the angst! This post is about “Ironic.” Now, it’s been a popular pastime over the years to rag on this song, and the specific complaint is that none of the examples in the lyrics demonstrate irony. The commentary is so prevalent it’s even noted in the album’s Wikipedia page and there are theories that the entire song is a meta work, i.e., it is itself ironic due to the lack of irony. Well, I am about to posit a different theory in defense of my teenage angst heroine! I propose that every single lyric is indeed situational irony, if you add the right context. Though I will admit, some take a little more mental gymnastics than others…

So join me as I embark on a pointless literary exercise that nobody asked for, 20 years in the making!


Ironic

An old man turned ninety-eight
He won the lottery and died the next day [in an accident at his post-retirement day job, which occurred when he threw down his safety helmet and announced he was quitting]
It’s a black fly in your Chardonnay [at your new restaurant, which you opened after leaving your job as a health inspector]
It’s a death row pardon two minutes too late [the convicted man, of course, was previously a lobbyist who helped limit the governor’s pardoning abilities]
Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think

It’s like rain on your wedding day [after you changed the date due to the weather forecast; your previous date remained dry, naturally]
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid [wait, is this one already ironic? there’s a joke here about the inventor of Lyft Shuttle and public buses, I can feel it]
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take [from a psychic, to you, the psychic debunker]
Who would’ve thought, it figures

Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly [and switched to a later flight after chickening out the first time]
He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids good-bye
He waited his whole damn life to take that flight
And as the plane crashed down he thought
“Well, isn’t this nice.” [because if it weren’t for his phobia, he would have stayed on the first flight and been okay]
And isn’t it ironic, l don’t you think

It’s like rain on your wedding day
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
Who would’ve thought, it figures

Well, life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
When you think everything’s okay and everything’s going right
And life has a funny way of helping you out when
You think everything’s gone wrong and everything blows up
In your face

A traffic jam when you’re already late [to protest a new freeway expansion at the city council meeting, since you don’t think congestion is a problem]
A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break [at your job at the cigarette factory]
It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife [you fired Barbara last time for ordering too many knives and not enough spoons]
It’s meeting the man of my dreams
And then meeting his beautiful wife [right after swearing off non-monogamous relationships for good]
And isn’t it ironic, don’t you think
A little too ironic, and yeah I really do think

It’s like rain on your wedding day
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
Who would’ve thought, it figures

Well, life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
And life has a funny way of helping you out
Helping you out.

the glory of classic Aerosmith

I grew up listening to hair metal and 80s pop, so no matter where my musical tastes develop in the future there will always be a soft spot in my heart for the likes of Madonna, Paula Abdul, Def Leppard…and Aerosmith.

Aerosmith was the be-all, end-all rock band of my youth. My family went to a kickass concert on the Just Push Play tour, and we never did concerts. I copied my dad’s CDs with early CD-R technology, then played them to destruction because early CD-R technology totally sucked.

Yesterday I put on a classic Aerosmith music video playlist on Youtube, intending it to be some background noise. Instead it hogged all of my attention. Such memories! Aerosmith videos have it all. Great hair band outfits, hilarious cutting-edge digital technology, and plots often hinging on losers wanting to get laid.

Here are some highlights from my binge watch. [And apologies in advance for my crummy Youtube video screencaps.]

1. The number of baby-faced actors who later went on to bigger things.

Everybody remembers Alicia Silverstone’s trilogy of Aerosmith videos, including her romp around town with Liv Tyler in Crazy. But do you remember…

Steven Dorff as Alicia’s shitty ex-boyfriend in Cryin’?

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AKA that one guy from Blade!

Or Edward Furlong as the boy who gets hit on by his sexy teacher in Livin’ On the Edge?

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Quit smirking, John Connor!

Or Mila Kunis as the jaded girl in Jaded??

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Such ennui.

You’d better believe I’d jump at the chance to be in an Aerosmith video, even though I’d invariably be one of the weirdos in the background.

2. The actors who never go on to anything else, but totally give it all they’ve got.

A prevalent theme of 80s rock was to appeal to a base audience of guys who wanna get laid like rock stars, and Aerosmith was no different. Thus, in Crazy we get Alicia and Liv having a wild time, while guys like Gas Station Loiterer ogle in ecstatic disbelief:

crazy

The director said, “Ogle harder! Harder!”

Or this guy, who will forever be known as Billy, the guy calling a sex line in Sweet Emotion:

sweet-emotion-billy

Billy, no.

The videos go meta in Amazing, when a lank-haired, basement-dwelling computer nerd is so smitten with Alicia Silverstone in the previous music videos he enters cyberspace to be with a computer simulation of her:

amazing-guy

Kid Rambo here

I’m just saying, they were a little on the nose . But it brings us to my next highlight…

3. Total commitment to computer technology.

Let’s take a look at Kid Rambo’s computer interface there:

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Oh yeah

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Yeah that’s the stuff

I don’t think I need to show you his VR helmet or cyber glove.

4. Steven Tyler loves to dress up

Nobody does hair band costume party like Steven Tyler. He will strut around naked or in a skirt or with a bunch of bird feathers on his head, and he Does. Not. Give. A shit. You watch Steven Tyler perform and you know Steven Tyler is having the time of his life.

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Not giving a fuck in Livin’ On the Edge

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Not giving a fuck in Fly Away From Here

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DEFINITELY not giving a fuck in Livin’ On the Edge

5. But, no matter how outlandish Steven Tyler gets, the cardinal rule is this: Joe Perry must look cool.

Because he’s Joe Fuckin’ Perry.

Whether that means he is playing guitar in front of a speeding train:

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Yes, that’s Livin’ On the Edge again

Or playing guitar in a raging fireplace:

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Jaded

Or playing guitar with mechanical robot wings:

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Fly Away From Here. Duh.

Even in a video like Pink, where the entire band dances toward the camera with their heads CGI’d onto disproportionate bodies, naked ladies, etc, and Steven Tyler spends half the time as this monstrosity:

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BURN IT

Even then, Joe Perry must look cool.

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You’re a national treasure, Joe.

6. Finally, and most importantly, there is no chemistry burning brighter or love story any greater than that of Tyler and Perry.

The B-plots about dorks loving Alicia Silverstone or jerks leaving Alicia Silverstone are only a ruse. The real sexual tension in every Aerosmith video is front and center:

sweet-emotion-tyler-and-perry

True love conquers all…

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…even when it gets weird.