Worst Predictions

#6

Graydon Carter Proclaims the End of Irony

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Carter in his New York office

Carter in his New York office

‘It’s the end of the age of irony.’
Graydon Carter, September 2001

You can stop laughing now. Seriously, that was the gist of what Vanity Fair pooh-bah Graydon Carter meant in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, when he declared that irony was dead. It was a reasonable thing to say at the time, when the entire world seemed to be dressed in black. How could anyone even think about trafficking in mindless, snark-based humor (such as the kind Carter pioneered at Spy magazine)? Easily. Within a matter of weeks, Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels was asking New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for permission to be funny again. (Why start now? asked Giuliani. Ba-dum-dum.) Needless to say, the end of irony came to a quick end—just in time for Zoolander. For the record, Carter now insists he had been misunderstood: what he really called for was an end to ironing. Now that’s funny.

Peyser is the culture editor for NEWSWEEK.

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