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  • This is not a mustache

It’s come to my attention that you don’t understand what the word irony means. It’s OK, no big, I actually have no idea either. This was pointed out to me earlier this year by a “friend” (put in ironic quotation marks because he’s not, per se, a “friend,” actually my boyfriend—am I doing this right?) after he’d read something I’d written in which I’d misused the term, or that’s what he thought. He probably doesn’t know what he’s talking about either. Anyway, it came to my attention more recently that neither does Christy Wampole, the Princeton French professor who wrote about it for the New York Times. The writer Elif Batuman tweeted, not long ago, that it’s confusing that there are two different meanings of the word irony—”bad hipster ‘irony'” and “good Romantic ‘irony'”—like there are two different kinds of cholesterol, good and bad. Why not just two different words for these very different modes of expression?

Alanis Morissette was a pioneer of misapplying the irony label, but hers wasn’t just a confusion of degree. She misunderstood entirely. She was just talking about bad luck. Irony isn’t bad luck, though bad luck can be ironic. It’s ironic that somebody can be acclaimed as a songwriter and make so simple an error of language. Isn’t it? That basically ties up your irony argument right there.