Quirk Is the New Kitsch (Sigh)

Atlantic writer traces the devolution of idiosyncrasy into idiocy

Quirk is the “ruling sensibility” of today’s culture—random narrative, “mannered ingenuousness”—and it’s become exhausting, writes the Atlantic's Michael Hirschorn. “This American Life” has been the standard-bearer, but the quirk it purveys hasn't held up well in expanding from radio to TV.

After name-checking movies Napoleon Dynamite and Rushmore, Hirschorn credits quirks for re-energizing sentiment in American culture—but the “pleasures are passing.” The framework can often be an end in itself, and the writer disdains the embrace of the odd: “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” (More This American Life stories.)

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