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  • the problem is i think post-modernism

  • has to a large extent run its course

  • David Foster Wallace is known for being

  • one of the most influential writers in

  • recent history before taking his own

  • life in 2008 he decried the negative

  • effects post-modernism had on his

  • generation post-modernism is a very

  • wide-ranging term used to analyze our

  • world that emerged in the nineteen

  • fifties and sixties it rejected the

  • grand narratives that exists in

  • modernism things like there's one true

  • God history is progress and peace on

  • earth in postmodern thought there is no

  • scientific philosophical or religious

  • truth which will explain everything for

  • everybody

  • it lacks that optimism instead

  • everything is understood on a micro

  • level knowledge and truth are contextual

  • and constructed reality only comes into

  • existence through our interpretations of

  • what the world needs to us individually

  • thus post-modernism is characterized by

  • self-referential ality such as a

  • character who knows their character in a

  • novel or film by moral relativism and by

  • cynicism and irony with that in mind

  • here's Wallace again that the problem

  • though is now is that a lot of the

  • sticks of post-modernism irony cynicism

  • irreverence are now part of whatever it

  • is that's enervating in the culture

  • itself right

  • Wallace's biggest concern was with the

  • dominant cultural force of television

  • which he believed had become too

  • saturated with these postmodern

  • characteristics TVs response to dumb and

  • overly sentimental sitcoms was ironing

  • TV shows began criticizing themselves

  • for being dumb TV shows can't be

  • happening we have to see this movie dude

  • is great about the isn't that good

  • anyway and then what are you talking

  • about love carrots in film and animation

  • up crabby

  • it's hard to criticize a show that

  • criticizes itself first shows became

  • more self-referential and

  • self-deprecating

  • in short they took nothing seriously and

  • there's a problem with this in Wallace's

  • mind irony has no redemptive qualities

  • in and of itself it can point out

  • problems and deconstruct things but it

  • offers no solution

  • it's like a rebel to throwing a tyrant

  • only to become a better tyrant

  • take for example seinfeld ironic

  • critique of the sitcom every character

  • is very human problems are laid bare but

  • they're presented as unsolvable whereas

  • earlier more sugary sitcoms might offer

  • a solution through family friends or

  • hobbies seinfeld gives you nothing

  • that's not a redeeming formula it's a

  • cynical one family guys use of irony is

  • slightly different but no more redeeming

  • it makes ironic connections to history

  • celebrity stereotypes you name it he

  • cares more about the number of

  • connections that can make rather than

  • providing any lessons or challenging any

  • principles with them

  • it simply uses irony to reassure us of

  • our knowledge of cultural discourse

  • you've got saturday night lives

  • deconstruction of cynicism arrested

  • development superficial relationships

  • it's always sunny is irredeemable

  • characters and in Wallace's time all of

  • these shows the ironic mode shows up in

  • advertising all the time here 20 ads

  • making fun of themselves for being ads

  • hello I'm an actor I've been paid eight

  • thousand dollars to tell you how great

  • nor net is compared to other banks to

  • Wallace TVs unabashed self-deprecation

  • and deconstruction of our culture the

  • idea that everything is fabricated was

  • corrosive to the soul hip cynical

  • transcendence of sentiment is really

  • some kind of fear of being really human

  • he thought we'd find a solution in

  • shifting televisions overall tone away

  • from one of cynical irony to one of

  • sincerity and no doubt this terminal

  • shift is occurring in some spheres of

  • pop culture and has been for the last

  • decade it's due in part to david foster

  • wallace himself and likely to a general

  • cultural shift away from cynicism in

  • general it's interesting to see how this

  • total shift has affected TV comedies

  • some of comedies greatest tools are

  • characteristically post

  • so how these combined with sincerity to

  • change American humor

  • it all starts in $MONTH 2006 with the

  • office then in $MONTH 2009 the tonal

  • shift towards sincerity continued with

  • community modern family and Parks and

  • Recreation they all have similarities to

  • the postmodern predecessors but instead

  • of the blank parody of family guide the

  • superficiality of arrested development

  • or the cynicism of seinfeld they have a

  • heart

  • they have redeeming characters who have

  • a sincere yearning for meaning and human

  • connection

  • the office is full of redemptive people

  • looking for human affirmation any

  • ironing the show is balanced with Ernest

  • sentimentality

  • take for example Jim and Pam's romantic

  • chemistry their connection relies on a

  • hyper awareness and mutual ironic

  • detachment from the office

  • it's not just irony for irony sake it

  • has that addition of a sincere human

  • relationship attached to it

  • indeed rarely does the show use irony at

  • the expense of a character ever in one

  • episode a recently dumped and he tries

  • to talk jimmy out of being with Pam and

  • Jim response to him

  • ironically so scared all right things

  • are going on and you're coming out with

  • almost no knowledge of course adjuster

  • opinion on this

  • Andy Reid's Jim's ironic comment as

  • sincere and for the rest of the day

  • believes he's genuinely taking on all of

  • jim's emotional troubles even though

  • Jim's perfectly happy with his

  • relationship at the end of the episode

  • one of andy's co-workers reveals the

  • joke i think Jim is messing with you but

  • instead of judging or belittling Andy

  • for the postmodern crime of being naive

  • in the face of irony

  • Jim uses the occasion to teach Andy a

  • sincere lesson that's not that Apple you

  • and angela is a bummer and I know that

  • you don't think you're going to find

  • someone else but you will I promise you

  • you will

  • Jim's ironic stance ends with in

  • delivering a sentiment upholding

  • American romantic ideals much like the

  • office community balances it's pop

  • culture references and ironic moments

  • with characters who sincerely desire

  • human connection the title of the show

  • tells us this out right

  • it's about how and why we come together

  • and form communities with other people

  • and even when it parodies and

  • deconstructs tvtropes like the jock it

  • so in an uplifting way turning the

  • all-star quarterback into one of the

  • most caring people on the show and

  • despite its frequent cynicism community

  • tells us that no matter how isolated and

  • alone you may think you are we need

  • other people around us in order to

  • function

  • it doesn't matter if it's a bunch of

  • outcasts they can still come together

  • through their shared similarities in the

  • ways they conflict with each other as

  • well the show at its core believes in

  • common human dignity and communal

  • integrity

  • it's a sincere anti nihilistic message

  • you won't get from these shows then

  • there's parks and recreation which

  • contains very few postmodern

  • characteristics you won't find the show

  • making fun of itself there's no meta

  • humor

  • it avoids a cynical tone entirely

  • ultimately it's a show about good people

  • trying to do good things

  • Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson have an

  • entirely different idea of civic duty

  • you have the hope and naiveté of

  • government and body then Leslie and the

  • pessimism and deconstruction of

  • government embodied in wrong

  • this relationship is right for a sort of

  • seinfeld and resentment and cynicism but

  • rotten Leslie have a mutual respect for

  • each other and they have a good

  • friendship

  • both are awesome both are flawed and the

  • show constantly goes back and forth

  • between them without taking the side

  • Andy and April are very similar both are

  • great but one is ultra sincere and the

  • other cynical we see every characters

  • ideology but never fully embrace or

  • discredit their stance sure the show is

  • about bureaucratic conflict but it's

  • also about how disparate people in a

  • town connect the show's overall tone

  • that cynical thinking isn't the smartest

  • or coolest makes a dramatic shift away

  • from post-modernism this wave of

  • earnestness and TV comedy shows no sign

  • of slowing down part of the reason jon

  • stewart was successful for so long was

  • that he had an unwavering sincerity

  • behind the irony in the daily shell two

  • of his major successors understand that

  • balance the best shows of our age aren't

  • finding the humor in the gaps that have

  • developed between people they find the

  • humor in the absurd and awkward attempts

  • by people trying to bridge those gaps

  • they want to show us that humans can

  • have real connections and sincerity for

  • each other it's not impossible it's just

  • really fucking hard postmodern thought

  • with its deconstruction of every

  • thing in its emphasis on individual

  • interpretation leads us down a road of

  • narcissism cynicism and detachment to

  • fix it we need not appeal to something

  • as abstract or dangerous as the grand

  • narratives of modernism to feel less

  • lonely it's perhaps this non-ideological

  • pursuit of getting along of striving to

  • have strong communal integrity valuing

  • others for their human dignity

  • unabashedly enjoying the things we find

  • to be awesome and as David Foster

  • Wallace would say making it ok to be

  • unavoidably sentimental and naive and

  • grown and generally pathetic that might

  • help us find a greater sense of meaning

  • and optimism in our lives

  • these shows tell us that strict

  • adherence to cynicism isn't all that

  • smart or cool and that perhaps we learn

  • more about what it means to be human

  • by embracing life and the different

  • people around us everyone thank you so

  • much for watching I had an absolute

  • blast making that video I don't always

  • make videos like that i like to make