Ironists of Waste

“He [his son Max] was engulfed by the media- by television and to a lesser extent radio, but also by movies, video- and audio-tapes, comics, activity books, computer games, Nintendo systems and the portable Game Boy as well as all the electronic games he occasionally visited in arcades. 

So, individually, none of these things struck me then or now as harmful. But collectively, I’m not so sure. Even if the child’s character is not formed by a single TV show, movie, video or computer game, the endless electronic assault obviously leaves its marks all over him… The child survives, but along the way he becomes a kind of cynic; or rather he becomes an ironist of waste. He knows that everything in the media is transient, disposable. Everything on television is just for the moment- it’s just television– and the kids pick up this derisive tone, the sense that nothing is truly serious. As they get older, David Letterman functions as their prince of irony: They learn from him that every part of their identity can be taken back; everything is a role, a put-on.”

-David Denby, Great Books (New York: Touchstone, 1996), pp. 71-72


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