I Don’t Want to Use the Word Irony Anymore

I’m fairly certain that the word ironic, outside of a literary context, is one of the most widely misused words in the English language. Many point to Alanis Morrisette’s horrible misuse of the word as a key proliferator of the incorrect definition that seems to mean, “an unfortunate coincidental event” or, perhaps, “an occurrence that contradicts the expected outcome.”

I have, in the past few months, read some essays on grammar, some essays on semiotics, and some literary criticism. I am at the point where I borderline cringe when people use the word, because it’s very rare that the word is used correctly.

“The point?” you ask.

I am tempted to use the word ironic to describe my filmgoing experience yesterday.

I will, however, refrain; I will simply use the phrase “contrary to expectations.”

Contrary to expectations, I actually enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End overall.

Granted, there were some intensely cheesy moments, and the sheer number of betrayals (as commented on by every reviewer) is borderline idiotic.

At one point a character comments (regarding Jack Sparrow) something to the effect of “Do you think he plans it all out or makes it up as he goes?”

I immediately leaned over to Amanda to said, “I think he’s talking about the plot.” I meant script.

So why did I like the movie?

I’m not sure. It could be that I was expecting far worse. It could be that the film wasn’t boring like the last one (action sequence upon action sequence to the point of drudgery). I was expecting this, so having my expectations undermined was a good thing.

The movie concluded in, more or less, the way it needed to, and it essentially bookended the series with two scenes (the final scenes before and after the credits).

Contrary to most critics, I didn’t find the plot overly convuluted. Or, in my case, I went into the film anticipating every character to be planning a betrayal of pretty much every other character, so when that happened I just made a mental tally on one side of the other.


I had entered the film just wanting to get it over with as a conclusion to a story left unfinished. Contrary to expectations, I left the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie thinking that I would probably watch a fourth one if they made it.

Or, maybe my lack in moviegoing since coming here provides extra goodwill to those fews films to which I do go.

In other news, I finished Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets after I returned from the movie. I still don’t know whether the next book will be Eco or Pratchett. I’m leaning towards Eco, my wife is pushing Pratchett. And I’ve quite enjoyed the last couple Potter books, so I’m tempted to just finish those quickly.

We’ll see.


~ by truth9 on June 2, 2007.

5 Responses to “I Don’t Want to Use the Word Irony Anymore”

  1. Well isn’t that ironic…

    I know it’s not, I just couldn’t resist baiting you. 😛

  2. Sorry, but that doesn’t bait me. I’m too used to biting my tongue around the misuses of the word to comment on it.

    Mainly because it’s pretty much daily.

  3. I’m surprised you have any tongue left. 😛

  4. The funny (not ironic) thing is that you still misunderstand irony, which is not about parallels but rather twists of fate exposing the folly of the human condition.

  5. I didn’t actually provide a definition of ironic in the post, nor did I say what I believe irony is. I simply stated what I believe isn’t.

    The definition you provide works for some forms of irony but not for others. Understanding parallels is necessary for some irony. Verbal irony, for instance, relies on the parallels of the literal meaning and the intended meaning. Without one or the other, the irony is lost. Likewise, dramatic irony, usually understood as the audience having knowledge which characters do not, relies on the parallels between character knowledge and audience knowledge to have any kind of effect. I am, of course, simplifying, but I feel the point remains valid.

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