“The week after the election, in a talk at the New York Public Library, Joan Didion lamented that the United States in the era of Barack Obama had become an “irony-free zone,” a vast Kool-Aid tank where “naïvete, translated into ‘hope,’ was now in” and where “innocence, even when it looked like ignorance was now prized.” Andy Newman, Sunday Styles Section, New York Times, November 23, 2008.
Quite the scholarly method of commencing to prove a point, Juhasz immediately takes a contradictory stance to such established academic names as Joan Didion and a bit later, The Web Is Us/ing Us creator Michael Wesch. Juhasz does this in what at first appears to be a pejorative maner, casually referring to Didion by her first name - "Joan, seriously (umm…ironically?), have you spent much time on YouTube?" - then quickly and gracefully begins to lay the theoretical groundwork under her taunt - "You of all people must be aware that Barack Obama, heralded by The Washington Post, no less, as our first “YouTube President,” also announced after his election the commencement of weekly broadcasts of his presidency’s “fire-side chats” on-line and on YouTube. While the tone, form, and message of these networked national addresses are decidedly serious, presidential even, Joan, you’re savvy enough to get the joke, to intuit the wink, the implied aside to a history of worn out presidents, tired fires, and cornball communications."
The subsequent explication of her thesis proves to be just as eloquent and cutting, but I'm not trying to re-post the whole thing to rack up my word count. To put it one way - recent worries I harbored concerning my possibly excessive use of commas, adjectives and generally (what I feel like may be) lengthy sentences dissipated instantly upon reading this post in its entirety. Juhasz's masterful use of commas creates an ease of reading reminiscent of completely informal blogs, but without the advent of irritating 'lol's and excessive use of parentheses (although parentheses can be done tastefully. wink). The overall tone created by this provides a legitimate academic backdrop for conversational humor - indeed, the effect of her writing is akin to what I imagine being in a starbucks full of P.h.Ds is like. At any rate, highly evident in this first jab is the effective, balanced combination of casual and scholastic tone (something I'm beginning to sense is neccessary for all blogs and indicative of the balance that life requires in general) that informs her overall writing style.
To neatly package this first thrust of her thesis in a flurry of excellent word choice, Juhasz refers to Obama's fireside youtube videos as "...a new kind of president-talk produced through documentary’s oldest, most eloquent sobriety, fireside-hot, only to be elegantly plopped into his society’s silliest platform. Incongruity-free? Naïve? I’d say not." Ending memorably seems to be a blogging rule of thumb, so in the spirit of this post and the one before it, I will appropriate the memorableness of that last passage and re-post it here, only one sentence later, in italics for emphasis.
His move, like most on YouTube, is irony-full: a regal black American taking up the hot-spot, filling the usually-segregated head-shot, a new kind of president-talk produced through documentary’s oldest, most eloquent sobriety, fireside-hot, only to be elegantly plopped into his society’s silliest platform. Incongruity-free? Naïve? I’d say not.