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Today I learned that TIL Mark David Chapman planned to kill David Bowie and had a front row seat (along with John & Yoko) for Bowie's Broadway show the day after killing John

The irony is that David Bowie’s first #1 hit “Fame”, from the Young Americans album which came out forty-one years ago, was co-written with Lennon who also played guitar on the track. And it was indeed their fame as rock stars which drew Mark David Chapman to stalk them, and subsequently to murder Lennon.

That's not ironic. It's fitting

But it's ironic that something so fitting would happen because you wouldn't expect something so fitting to happen

I understand that irony means an incongruity between what actually happens and what is expected. However, this user (emboldened comment, above) got downvoted for what I believe is an appropriate usage of the word irony.

The original usage of the word as quoted in the post is obviously wrong, it's most certainly a coincidence. However, this user replies saying that it's "an irony that it's fitting because you wouldn't expect it to be fitting". I think it's logical to assume that it wouldn't be fitting for Mark David Chapman to have murdered Lennon and then have plans to murder Bowie just because they co-wrote a song. Am I wrong here? Please explain it simply.

  • 1
    It may be a simplification, but situational Irony is when things are basically the opposite of what you'd expect, not just something you wouldn't expect. It only comes into play when A almost always implies B, but in this case "not B" happened.
    – Jeremy
    May 25, 2016 at 20:30
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    I refer the reader to the learned study by Alanis Morissette. It's only ironic if Mr Play-it-safe was afraid to fly and yet got caught in an airline crash if he was involved with airline safety in some capacity. Likewise, a black cloud on your wedding day is just unfortunate unless you're a meteorologist. May 25, 2016 at 22:54
  • @Jeremy by "not B" do you mean Bowie not getting murdered? However, what I'm referring to is the downvoted comment, not the parent comment . Is it wrong to say that "it's ironic that it's fitting because you wouldn't expect it to be fitting"? Clearly the downvotes indicate some sort of disagreement, but I can't quite figure out why.
    – brazen
    May 26, 2016 at 20:23
  • @ProfYaffle I have a better understanding of irony now thanks to your examples. However, I can't quite seem to understand why the comment I linked appears to be wrong. To be clear, I am referring to the downvoted comment that states ""it's ironic that it's fitting because you wouldn't expect it to be fitting". I feel that it's right, but the downvotes indicate otherwise. Would you happen to know if it's a wrong usage of irony?
    – brazen
    May 26, 2016 at 20:25
  • @brazen It's not simply ironic because it's fitting when you wouldn't expect it to be - look at Jeremy's comment. It's more "this isn't what you'd expect to happen, but it did happen because of/in spite of some innate feature of the scenario" - the deliberate contrariness. You could argue that the Fame example was ironic if it were a song about people dying because of being famous - and the song then made him famous - which is why he died ... but that's not what happened here because that's not what the song is about. May 26, 2016 at 20:47

1 Answer 1


Examples of irony

Situational Irony

where actions or events have the opposite result from what is expected or what is intended

Verbal Irony

where someone says the opposite of what they really mean or intend; sarcasm is a particularly biting form of verbal irony

Dramatic Irony

occurs when the audience or reader of a text knows something that the characters do not

Here we're discussing an example of the first category:

Situational Irony Examples:

  1. There are roaches infesting the office of a pest control service.

  2. A plumber spends all day working on leaky faucets and comes home to find a pipe has burst in his home.

So, looking at the Reddit comment:

But it's ironic that something so fitting would happen because you wouldn't expect something so fitting to happen.

... that's not ironic, it's just an unfortunate coincidence. It would only be ironic if there was something inherent in the original scenario that suggests you wouldn't expect these events to play out, but they did anyway. Just singing a song doesn't count; however, singing a song that perhaps talks about finding fame and getting assassinated for it, and then becoming famous because of that song, only to then get assassinated because of the fame - that's ironic.

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