Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Basics of Cool

In F-John's presentation Wednesday night, he gave us a definition of "cool." He said that it was, "An idea of ironic detachment from society that we see as valuable." F-John then continued to describe many different varieties of that definition. There was the "cool destruction" who possessed the "i just do not care" mentality. Then came the Eighties, which gave you "cool without pretense." These people were intentionally trying to be cool—tight pants, big hair, and crazy makeup—an intentional effort to obtain the status of "cool." F-John gave us several examples of types of cool.

In the end, there were two types of cool presented to us. The first was, “Dissident cool.” Perhaps first perfected by none other than James Dean, but artfully mastered by many other people. To master this particular brand of cool, you must be exciting, rebellious, present some sort of novelty, and I think that mysterious would also fit in well here. Just look at the men on television and the movie stars that women find attractive. There are many examples of this dissidence. Take Heath Ledger’s character in “Ten Things I Hate About You.”
He is one on the left and the epitome of dissidence. “Patrick Verona, a bad-boy with a mysterious reputation--some say he ate a live duck once, others that he lit a state trooper on fire, and even more claim that he had a brief porn career.” ( Sounds like we have a winner! There are many other attractive males in the public eye that demonstrate this “quality;” the list could go on and on. But the fact is, unfortunate or not, that this is not only a “cool” quality, but an attractive one as well (at least from a female perspective).

The second type of cool was defined as, “Transcendent cool.” To be this type of cool, you must be sincere, passionate, and do things because you desire to do so and not because it is “cool.” It is ironic that you can become cool, by defying cool itself. I think that more often than not, to become transcendent, you have to go against the norms of society; sometimes, against the wishes of your family and peers. One of my favorite movies displays this type of cool perfectly—Walt Disney’s “Mulan.” IN this movie, you see two sides of Mulan: she displays femininity and discreetness (the one expected by society) and also her desire to stand out and make a difference.

In the end, against everyone’s better judgment, she accomplishes more than what she set out to do. Mulan saves the entire nation, all while defying the womanly definition of “cool” at that time. In doing so, created her own brand of cool. Perhaps that is the secret to being cool—creating your own genre.


  1. 1.) Mulan is a baller.

    2.) I like your statement about how we women fall, unfortunately or not, for the rebels of society. The good guys are always wondering why we fall for the bad boys, and that is exactly it. They are COOL, because they refuse to be what society deems as acceptable. I also like how you point out how "you can become cool by defying cool itself." This makes me think that anyone can become cool, just by defining a different type of cool for themselves.

  2. What is this "womanly definition of 'cool'" that you mention?

  3. To second FJohn's question, I would like to see you explore this throughout the class (if it suits you). Womanly cool is underrated and underrepresented. It will be interesting to hear your thoughts on it in the future.

    Good entry! And good use of links! Don't be afraid to use more as you get more into the class with deeper journal entries.

  4. Very interesting ideas! I did have one problem with the part about how women fall for the dissident cool. That is definitely a stereotype out there, but I don't quite agree with it...I think the dissident cool gets women's attention, but it won't always work in love. I think of all those movies with the "bad guys" and the "good girls", like "A Walk to Remember". Yes, in the end the two get together, but HE was the one first attracted to her and ended up changing from his dissident cool to more of her transcendent cool...