As I have been looking at cool in a new way, I have discovered that cool means different things to different people. As Donna said, cool is kind of like honor; it must be given to you by others. It is interesting that the mainstream is generally in charge of what is considered cool, but generally cool is associated with some form of detachment from society. I think that this is a result of people fantasizing about being someone else or living another life. When the mainstream gets bored of their routine, boring lives, they look at those who have stepped outside of the box and say that’s cool. I believe this is why superheroes have become so popular lately, in addition to their nostalgic effects. People sitting behind a desk at their 9 to 5 turn on the news or open a paper to see a failing economy, war in the Middle East, and crime everywhere. I think that everyone wishes that they could do something to save the world. Out of this situation comes the popularity of Batman. Bruce Wayne, although extremely wealthy, falls into the mainstream, but when Batman suits up he is transformed. Batman is fights the corruption, crime, and civil unrest in Gotham city that many people wish they could bring to an end in our world. Batman becomes a perfect example of transcendent cool in The Dark Knight (2008). He always does what is right even when he is tempted to kill the Joker, and he is willing to sacrifice his own reputation in the end because that is what is best for the Gotham city.
Although cool is often defined, like beauty, by the eye of the beholder, there are certain experiences and ideals that all or the majority of people have in common that bring us to common idea of cool. Cool cannot be simply a matter of opinion, if so The Dark Knight could never have grossed $997,709,129 worldwide. The reality is that people are more alike than they are different. Although there may be some people that may not think Batman is cool, it is obvious that the overwhelming majority finds something appealing in a superhero that is tough enough to take on the worst villains, but never loses sight of his moral standards.
The term cool is used every day by the vast majority of people, but how many people can define it. At first glance, it seems that people who strive to be cool are longing for the acceptance of others and trying to fit in with the mainstream. By delving deeper, I have realized that the people that are truly cool are those who are not trying to be cool and have set themselves apart from society in some way. F-John describes two main types of cool: the dissident cool and the transcendent cool. The dissident cool includes those who are rebelling against society in some way. This type of cool has a distinct look that can quickly be merchandised and lost in the mainstream. The grunge culture of the 90s is a good example of dissident cool. The transcendent cool are also people set apart from the mainstream, but with a purpose other than going against society. The transcendent cool are sincerely passionate about something and don’t allow social norms to stand in their way. Nerd cool is one example of transcendent cool. Cinematic history allows us to see how cool has been portrayed over the years. From the earliest silent films to today’s multi-million dollar productions stars have been creating new types of cool and cool is always marketable. Charlie Chaplin was one of the coolest early actors. His main character “The Tramp” was a vagabond with the manners of a gentleman; this contrast together with the exaggerated movements made Chaplin comedic and completely cool. In the era of silent films, Chaplin was able to capture cool with his derby hat, mustache, and cane. Even without words Chaplin captivated the nation and became transcendent cool, as well as an icon of early cinema.
In more recent films, Bruce Willis has reached stardom as the cool tough guy with a badass attitude in the Die Hard series. In Live Free or Die Hard (2007), the latest Die Hard movie, Bruce Willis portrays the dissident cool John McClane. Transcendent cool is present in Matt Farrell, the nerdy computer hacker, played by Justin Long. The plot of this movie revolved around McClane and Farrell trying to stop other hacker based terrorists from performing a firesale. McClane gains his dissident cool by using unconventional tactics to take out the terrorists, where as Farrell uses his computer skills to outsmart them.