The lead story in today’s Style section of the New York Times is an article about how “baby-faced men are opting for beard transplants,” and as much as this is the type of Style section article which usually inspires a flurry of Twitter activity as people rush to condemn the absurdity inherent in promoting this type of “trend” in the pages of the paper of record, the beard transplant article is not being paid all that much attention, because today the Style section also ran what is widely being called one of the strangest and most confusing things to ever run in the Times. Like, ever.
The strange and confusing article is titled “27 Ways to Be a Modern Man,” and is presented as a straightforward list, one which falls under the Style subcategory of “Self-Help.” And because nothing could be more serious than self-help, it appears, at first, as if this list is meant to be taken, well, seriously, as a true guide to the principles that all modern men must hold dear. But then, you know, you start reading it, and it becomes very, very clear that there’s no way this is serious, and that it is, in fact, such a subtly satirical take on actual, widely circulated lifestyle proscribing lists that it is, in fact, brilliant. Take, for example, number nine on the list:
Having a daughter makes the modern man more of a complete person. He learns new stuff every day.
Think of every single man who talks about how he never really understood that it was important to be good to women until he’d had a daughter of his own. Now read number nine again. And laugh. In fact, read the whole list and laugh. It’s really fucking funny. What’s not so funny is how seriously literally everyone is taking it on Twitter.
So read the list, and pity the modern man. Pity him not because he “cries… and cries often”; pity him because nobody out there can recognize a joke anymore—even one that’s this funny.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen