It’s a question as old as my adolescence, which is rapidly gathering dust on a shelf somewhere:
In “Ironic,” did Alanis Morissette know most of the lyrics weren’t?
I say “most” because if I were a judge in language court, I’d allow “a no-smoking sign on your cigarette break” and then go back to thinking I had the best job ever.
Hopefully that would make up for still being a virgin.
Being that this question is one of the great mysteries of life in the modern-day world, I knew that sitting down to write a post on the topic wouldn’t exactly take me into uncharted waters. However, a quick Google search reveals that not only have those depths been charted, they’re filled with chum.
(I came up with this chum analogy because I thought it sounded funny, not because I thought it made sense. I was going to point that out here, but on second thought, I think there might be something to it. Chum, after all, is used to attract sharks, and water that has been filled with it would imply the presence of a lot of people, not to mention those harbingers of death, meaning that stretch of sea would be fairly well-explored—that is, charted. In other news, my mind is a weird place.)
All I’m hoping for today is that you, my loyal readers, can help settle a debate between my wife and me.
I’ve always been fond of saying Alanis just messed up. I’m not judging; my entire comedic livelihood centers on irony, and I still look it up at least once a month. I think it’s one of those things that’s easier to identify than it is to define, and this song is a case in point.
Jenny, on the other hand, likes to float this theory that Alanis intended for the song not to be ironic, therefore giving the listener some meta-level experience of irony. When I told her (Jenny, not Alanis—we haven’t been on speaking terms since she and Dave Coulier called it quits) that I was going to do this post, she asked that I point out she doesn’t necessarily subscribe to this theory; she simply knows it’s out there. I suspect she’s just enjoying pushing my buttons.
The third option is that Alanis had the definition of “irony” down cold and just didn’t really care. This would certainly seem to be a fair conclusion based on what you can find in the “Ironic” Wikipedia entry (as reliable a source as any), and I don’t imagine titling the song “Murphy’s Law” would’ve been quite as catchy.
So, what do you all think? A, B, C, or D, your own theory (preferably one of the conspiracy variety)? Leave a comment below and let me know, and I just might adopt it as tedfoxisawesome.com’s official stance on the issue. And wouldn’t that be a privilege for someone?
See, Alanis? It’s not that hard.