About Me

Kyle Smith (Twitter: @rkylesmith) is critic-at-large for National Review, theater critic for The New Criterion and the author of the novels Love Monkey and A Christmas Caroline. Type a title in the box above to locate a review.

Buy Love Monkey for $4! "Hilarious"--Maslin, NY Times. "Exceedingly readable and wickedly funny romantic comedy"--S.F. Chronicle. "Loud and brash, a helluva lot of fun"--Entertainment Weekly. "Engaging romp, laugh-out-loud funny"-CNN. "Shrewd, self-deprecating, oh-so-witty. Smith's ruthless humor knows no bounds"--NPR

Buy A Christmas Caroline for $10! "for those who prefer their sentimentality seasoned with a dash of cynical wit. A quick, enjoyable read...straight out of Devil Wears Prada"--The Wall Street Journal

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    Attack of the Quirk Monster: Nailing Wes Anderson, Ira Glass et al

    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. It’s easy for David Cross’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 ’90s, quirk is everywhere because quirkiness is so easy to achieve: Just be odd … but endearing. It becomes a kind of psychographic marker, like wearing laceless Chuck Taylors or ironic facial hair—a self-satisfied pose that stands for nothing and doesn’t require you to take creative responsibility. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

    It’s harder to construct a coherent universe that has something to say about contemporary life. This is why Judd Apatow’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 it’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, “Well, it’s This American Life.”

    Topics: Books, Movies, Radio, TV | No Comments »