I read “quirk” and I think of a twitchy older man.

That’s just me, I guess.  Leading with that quirky subject header, I introduce you to this piece on "quirk" and its ascendant status in American culture, for better and apparently for a whole lot of worse.  Watch wide-eyed as

specific circumstances are nipped, tucked, torqued, and squeezed until they fit the theme

with the following (and preceding) excerpts:

As an aesthetic principle, quirk 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.

I think Hirschorn’s got some points about quirk being employed as an easy out to serious treatments of the subject matter (including comedy), but he works feverishly to take examples (as in "specific circumstances are nipped, tucked, torqued, and squeezed until they fit the theme", which his article is most certainly guilty, guilty, guilty of) from culture’s most successful – and by successful, I mean effective, not "popular" – conveyors of quirk.  It is, indeed, easy to be a bit off, a bit odd, and have that be your selling point.  Lord knows I employ a varying share of quirk here.  And, maybe, I’m just a bit defensive, as Hirschorn’s targets are my current primary non-book sources of entertainment.  (Just last night, I watched the episode of AD from season three that featured this statement (roughly paraphrased): "Who am I supposed to find that will want to spend a night in that musty old clap-trap?" which, let me tell you, makes me laugh just typing it, even though I butchered it)  But, truly, these sort of seem like the more successful conveyors of quirk, generally speaking: TAL tells stories without easy answers.  Okay, so the guy who was gored in the nutsack by his cloned bull, maybe he is a bit touched; maybe he learned a lesson, maybe he didn’t.  More likely the latter.  I don’t think any sort of epiphany is necessarily being forced down our throat here; it’s just a story, even if an epiphany is implied.  If we, the viewer/listener, were being lead to think Holey Nutsack had some sort of epiphany, would footage be included that contradicts that conclusion? 

I think "quirk ascendant" (and really, it seems much more marginal to regular joe culture than Hirschorn is letting on, though I suspect his target audience with The Atlantic is populated mainly by the sort of folks who are already very familiar with the subject matter) is as popular as it is because it succeeds in providing some level of nuance that you aren’t going to get in most of your other "braying" media. 


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