The Null Device

As America joins in prayer, the nihilistic young hellions of Portal of Evil News have put their misanthropic barbs on hold and replaced their page with a memorial for those killed in the WTC attack, and now the Onion is suspending its next edition, and doing some soul-searching. Some commentators are saying that the age of irony is over:
"Look at Congress singing 'God Bless America' on the steps of the Capitol" Tuesday night, he added. "That would have seemed ridiculously hokey 24 hours earlier, but when it happened, it was a mesmerizing display of unity."

It will be interesting to see whether the age of irony is truly over, whether the detached hipster cynicism that permeated the 1990s died on 11/9/2001, to be replaced by a new Organization Kid earnestness and sense of responsibility, just as America's innocence is said to have when Kennedy was shot, or whether it is merely on hold for the moment. It will be interesting to see whether, when the Onion resumes publication, it will be as detached and faithless as before, or whether it will develop a new wholesomeness and sense of communitarian identity, and if the former, whether its circulation will drop off as a result of changing public tastes. Also, it may be interesting to observe whether underground countercultures continue to flourish (after all, when everybody is singing God Bless America in unison, what sense is there in defining oneself outside of the greater whole), whether authors like Douglas Coupland and Chuck Palahniuk will keep being published, and whether low-budget disaffected-slacker comedies will keep appearing in cinemas.

We may soon, if not now, be living in a true post-ironic age; only this time the "post-" isn't short for "postmodern" and a symbol of still further detachment, but is used in its literal sense; A neo-Rockwellian earnestness without the blasphemous self-awareness of kitsch.

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