Monday, January 26, 2009

The Definition of Cool

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.


  1. Why do you think that the last Die Hard movie was so cool? Wasn't it just more of the same from the past?

    Further, how can any sequel be cool?

  2. Hollywood very much tries to capitalize on any sort of movement it is responsible for creating. That's why there are so many sequels - it's a cash cow when the first one becomes extremely popular and a part of human consciousness. Then again, Hollywood makes sequels of everything, cool or not.

    Good entry, though it didn't have much of a conclusion. Be sure to finish out the thoughts you start out with to help the reader go where you are going. :)