By Kyle | August 20, 2007
We are drowning in a sea of quirk, says the astute Michael Hirschorn in the Atlantic, who draws a bead on the way unbearably cute alterna-culture often doesn’t dare to actually say much of anything:
Quirk, loosed from its moorings, quickly becomes exhausting. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s easy for David CrossÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s character on Arrested Development to cover himself in paint for a Blue Man Group audition, or for the New Zealand duo on Flight of the Conchords to make a spectacularly cheesy sci-fi video about the future while wearing low-rent robot costumes. But the pleasures are passing. Like the proliferation of meta-humor that followed David Letterman and Jerry Seinfeld in the Ã¢â‚¬â„¢90s, quirk is everywhere because quirkiness is so easy to achieve: Just be odd Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ but endearing. It becomes a kind of psychographic marker, like wearing laceless Chuck Taylors or ironic facial hairÃ¢â‚¬â€a self-satisfied pose that stands for nothing and doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t require you to take creative responsibility. Just because you can doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mean you should.
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s harder to construct a coherent universe that has something to say about contemporary life. This is why Judd ApatowÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s almost 100 percent quirk-free summer comedy, Knocked Up, packs such a punch. Its characters face real peril, show real anguish, and have genuine epiphanies. The comedy, at times so funny itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s painful, finds its potency in the absurdity of maleness, femaleness, singleness, married life. It dares to matter.
Quirk culture, by contrast, throws up its hands, gives a little chuckle, and says, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Well, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s This American Life.Ã¢â‚¬Â