We’re drowning in quirk. It is the ruling sensibility of today’s Gen-X indie culture, defined territorially by the gentle ministrations of public radio’s This American Life; the strenuously odd (and now canceled) TV sitcom Arrested Development; the movies of Wes Anderson; Dave Eggers’s McSweeney’s Web site; the performance art, music, and writing of Miranda July; and the just-too-wacky-to-be-fully-believable memoirs of Augusten Burroughs.Ouch. I love This American Life, I love love Arrested Development, I love Wes Anderson's "Rushmore," I think Eggers is great, and I really liked July's movie "You, Me, and Everyone You Know." Thankfully for my ego, I read Burroughs' book "Running With Scissors" and I didn't really love it.
However, the damage is done. It doesn't feel very good to be put into a demographic category like that, to have someone say "Look, you fit neatly into this set of criteria." But I do fit. It appears that I'm a quirk lover, but I didn't think I was.
But what is "quirk"? According to the author of the article, Michael Hirschorn, it is:
an embrace of the odd against the blandly mainstream. It features mannered ingenuousness, an embrace of small moments, narrative randomness, situationally amusing but not hilarious character juxtapositions (on HBO’s recent indie-cred comedy Flight of the Conchords , the titular folk-rock duo have one fan), and unexplainable but nonetheless charming character traits. Quirk takes not mattering very seriously. Quirk is odd, but not too odd. That would take us all the way to weird, and there someone might get hurt.He follows up this definition with two recent film examples of quirk: Napoleon Dynamite and Little Miss Sunshine. I liked Napoleon Dynamite and loved Little Miss Sunshine.
Oh no. I'm a quirkaholic.
As I said before, though, I didn't think I was. I hated the forced quirkiness of movies like Garden State and Waitress.
Ah, who am I kidding. If quirk is done reasonably well, I'm a total sucker. Micheal Hirschorn, you nailed me, and it doesn't feel good. As a final insult, here's a criticism of quirk that stings me.
Quirk, loosed from its moorings, quickly becomes exhausting. It’s easy for David Cross’s character on Arrested Development to cover himself in paint for a Blue Man Group audition, or for the New Zealand duo on Flight of the Conchords to make a spectacularly cheesy sci-fi video about the future while wearing low-rent robot costumes. But the pleasures are passing. Like the proliferation of meta-humor that followed David Letterman and Jerry Seinfeld in the ’90s, quirk is everywhere because quirkiness is so easy to achieve: Just be odd … but endearing. It becomes a kind of psychographic marker, like wearing laceless Chuck Taylors or ironic facial hair—a self-satisfied pose that stands for nothing and doesn’t require you to take creative responsibility. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.Read the entire article here.