Scrolling through Tumblr - Hey look Veblen! Who’s that woman tho? #meta
I Accidentally Fooled Conservative Twitter with a Fake Lena Dunham Quote
The internet is always stupider than you think. When you’re telling a joke to an audience of anonymous online strangers, as long as the setup is believable no amount of absurdism in the punchline will give the game away.
Here’s an example: The week before Breaking Bad ended, I tweeted, “My uncle is a teamster and got a copy of the ending.” And I attached a fake script page that clearly demonstrated I had never seen the show. I referred to the main character as “Bryan Cranston from Malcolm in the Middle,” gave him lines like “Here goes nothing! Suicide!” and wrote in the AMC copyright information with a Sharpie. But people still got furious and demanded I immediately take it down. One guy said my uncle wouldn’t find work again. Another told me, “Teamsters are pieces of shit.”
So every once in a while I try to test the limits of that joke format. And on Friday, I struck the mother lode: I took a quote from economist/sociologist Thorstein Veblen’s seminal 1899 workThe Theory of the Leisure Class and attributed it to Lena Dunham’s new book of essays, Not That Kind of Girl. I know almost nothing about Veblen; I just thought it was a funny way to say I don’t like rich people.
Obviously, Lena Dunham, who has chapters like “Take My Virginity (No, Really, Take It),” is not writing anything in the same universe as the Veblen quote, which critiques the cultural fallout of the Gilded Age while using words like “impinge” and “forfeiture” and “exigencies.” The joke made ten or so of my political science major friends smirk, which is all I thought it would do.