As I organized the book, one thing that become clear was how often I came back to the subject of irony. “Oh, by the way, this element has to be ironic. And that one. And this other one.” I soon realized that I had to figure out how many separate ironies I was dealing with and how they interacted. Let’s spend the next several posts doing that.
I first addressed the need to have an ironic concept here and then followed it up here but both concern themselves more with things that aren’t ironic, rather than things that are. One problem I have with ironies, and with all advice that’s practically universal, is that it’s hard to pick out specific examples, and they wouldn’t be very useful anyway, because exemplary cases aren’t the point: I’m talking about how this should be everywhere, but without being the center of attention.
In many such cases where I wanted to prove that something was true across all types of movies, I’ve found myself, more and more, data-mining the 15 checklists. So let’s see how each of the movies we’ve looked at has an Ironic Concept:
- Casablanca: The least patriotic American has to save the Allied cause.
- Sunset Boulevard: The nation’s most glamorous people are psychotic lowlifes.
- In a Lonely Place: A writer adapting a crime book finds himself living it.
- Alien: They go to answer a distress signal sent by a creature that wants to kill them.
- The Shining: A recovering alcoholic rededicates himself to his family, then finds that himself compelled to kill them.
- Blue Velvet: An idealistic amateur detective discovers he’s just as creepy as those he investigates.
- Silence of the Lambs: The only way to catch one serial killer is to work with another.
- Groundhog Day: A man who just wants to get his least favorite day over has to live it again and again.
- Donnie Brasco: An undercover FBI agent finds his pitiful targets more sympathetic than his bosses.
- The Bourne Identity: A spy with a conscience becomes the latest target of his own agency.
- Sideways: A man celebrates his upcoming wedding by looking for love.
- How to Train Your Dragon: A dragon killer in training succeeds by befriending a dragon.
- Iron Man: Arms dealer is targeted by his own clients, declares war on arms dealing.
- An Education: A bored girl rejects the idea of getting “an education”, but learns another meaning of that phrase in the process.
- Bridesmaids: A group of friends planning a happy day go to war against each other.