Filler Friday: Secrets of Irony Revealed
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We've been getting a lot of email asking us how we create such compelling content on a daily basis, how we compete in this zine-eat-zine world of the Internet and continue getting such astonishly high hit counts, and how we continue to be better than you on a daily basis. Well, we're going to give away all of our secrets, right here, today for Filler Friday.
Production on Über does not typically begin until 11:30pm CST. I, as editor in chief, put down my malt liquor, zip up my pants, and yell to Adam,, "Hey, fucko, are you writing today?"
"No," says Adam. "I just wrote yesterday."
"Fuck me," I say. I'll check my personal email account and see if there is anything worth copying and pasting, because everyone loves reader feedback, especially me. When none of my idiot readers has sent anything worth making fun of, I open up chat. "Hey Andrea," I say. "You're writing today."
This is how to have a popular website.
"Jesus, I hate you so much," she says. "Hold on, I think I have something I started a week ago but never finished." Andrea pastes a few sentences into our chat window.
"This is great," I say, without reading it. "We'll go with this."
I open up an editor window and paste Andrea's text into it. As I'm adding paragraph tags, I load up Suck to see if there are any jokes worth stealing. Copy, paste, tweak. Occasionally, after I've added as much padding as I can, the piece still rates slightly lower than usual on the irony scale, so we'll have an editorial meeting.
"I think that maybe this piece's relationship with irony is a bit too detached," I say. "Take a bit of time, go read McSweeney's and try to be a bit more earnest in your irony. I mean, we're living in the post-ironic age ... We've got a color scheme to live up to here. If there's nothing worth making fun of on some other 'zine, just make a vague personal insult about some well known microcelebrity. The audience loves that shit."
After I've posted the piece in a top secret directory, I send off the url to a few people in my "fans" buddy list. If 2 out of 3 people don't get it, we post it to the front page. If everyone thinks it's funny, we read the McSweeney's archives for a while and try to make our sentences more complicated. If people still think we're funny, we just trash the piece and write a letter from the editor where we talk about ourselves or some other website and make jokes about how popular we are.
This is how to get hits.
When 2am rolls around, regardless of quality, typos, length, conclusion, or general readability, we post the piece and go to sleep. The next morning, you read somewhere that we're very funny or that we're terrible writers, and even though you don't care and don't get it, you don't want to miss the meme-bus, so you click and read and then post to your own site that we're very funny or that we're terrible writers.
Click. Read. Meme.
Self-referentiality, self parody, self-concious self-awareness, it's all crap in a box. The important part is self. Ego, Ego, Ego.
Irony? Post irony? Meta-meta-deconstructionist-post-modernism? Nobody knows! But in a world where nobody knows what's going on, everyone will believe anything.
Ben Brown encourages you to write comments and critism about this piece and post them on your website. Just don't forget to make the link to us really big