The End of Irony

My daughter came home from school today and announced that her literature teacher had let them listen to a song by Alanis Morissette during class.  Intrigued, I asked which one and why.

She said that they had listened to “Isn’t it Ironic?” to learn what irony is.


Have you heard this song?  I used to love this song, but it always irritated the heck out of me because nothing in it is truly ironic.

I will provide for you here the lyrics and my point-by-point explanation of why this is NOT ironic.

It’s the least I can do.

Isn’t it Ironic? by Alanis Morissette

An old man turned ninety-eight
He won the lottery and died the next day.

(Not ironic…if the lottery ticket that he yearned for actually somehow killed him, then yes…ironic.  Just being old and dying = sort of expected eventually).

It’s a black fly in your Chardonnay

(Also not ironic…just gross…and disappointing.  Possibly chewy.)

It’s a death row pardon two minutes too late
And isn’t it ironic… don’t you think

(No…bad timing again…bad luck…not ironic. If the guy delivering the pardon ran over him accidentally and killed him anyway…ironic.)

It’s like rain on your wedding day.

(Bad luck.)

It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid

(Bad timing.)

It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take

(Bad decision making skills.)

Who would’ve thought… it figures

Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly
He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids goodbye
He waited his whole damn life to take that flight
And as the plane crashed down he thought
“Well isn’t this nice…”

(Not ironic…turns out he was right to be scared.  If he stayed home in fear and a plane crashed into his house and killed him…ironic.)

And isn’t it ironic… don’t you think

Well life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
When you think everything’s okay and everything’s going right

(Not irony…just life.)

And life has a funny way of helping you out when
You think everything’s gone wrong and everything blows up
In your face

(Not irony…just life again.)

A traffic jam when you’re already late.

(Irritating…not ironic.  If the traffic jam somehow made you end up on time, that would be ironic.)

A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break

(A sign from above that you shouldn’t be killing yourself that way…not ironic.)

It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife

(Unfortunate distribution of utensils…not ironic.)

It’s meeting the man of my dreams
And then meeting his beautiful wife

(This would be ironic only if the beautiful wife was the one who introduced you, so that if he weren’t married you would never meet, but because he is your love is destined to be unrequited.)

And isn’t it ironic…don’t you think
A little too ironic…and, yeah, I really do think…

Yeah…I really don’t think…

Do you?

I tried to explain to Sprout that her teacher was off base here, to which she replied, “She is a LITERATURE teacher, I think she knows what she is talking about.” (Imagine the pre-teen tone implying my complete and utter lack of credibility.)

I tried to give her examples of true irony…she gave me more of those “You clearly have no idea what you are talking about” looks.

I sort of gave up (and basically decided to rant here instead.  Thank you for playing along :)).

So now generations of children will grow up misunderstanding irony due to a song about irony that isn’t.

Which is, if you think about it, ironic.

You also need to go read this. It will make you laugh AND you will learn even more about irony.  For real.

You are welcome.

About Kristen

Me: Kristen, more than 40-something (don't make me face the number), suburban mom of 2, working girl, therapeutic writer, proprietor of an emptying nest Addictions: Iced Coffee, FOMO resulting in twitchy compulsion to check FB/Instagram/Pinterest in an unending loop, texting, hugging my one child while Snapchatting the other and yelling at my dog

3 Responses

  1. Frank James Davis

    Thank you, Kristen, for your amusing and accurate mini-analysis of some non-ironies.
    I do think, though, that you too easily accepted your daughter’s misplaced trust and–what appeared to me to be–obvious disrespect.

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