Thursday, February 26, 2009

Can We Even Define Cool?

Jules and Jim is one of the strangest movies I have ever seen. The disconnected stories and scenes were interesting, but at the same time frustrating to follow. When I watch a movie, I don’t really care to see all the in between parts; instead, I’m only interested in the “moments” and the build-up to those “moments.” Everything besides is just everyday life that all of us see when we open our eyes in the morning. The “moments” are what really make life special, but once they happen, they can’t be relived or captured and ever be the same. Instead, when one of these great moments occur, we should smile, enjoy it, and then move on in search of the next great moment, not try to save it. We are dynamic, ever-changing entities, and the same emotions, feelings, and circumstances will never happen twice. Life is working and searching for the next defining moment. They’re spontaneous and fleeting, but they’re what make life worth living. A person’s wedding day could very well be the happiest day of her life thus far; however, to truly live life one has to take the moments for what they are and then let them go. Watching the wedding on video wouldn’t allow her to recapture “the moment”; instead, it would remind her of the thoughts and feelings she had, but that was also a different “her.” We grow and evolve and are never the same person we were two seconds ago. Life and experiences happen and lead us to our next experiences. In order to really live, we have to live in the present and have some flagrant disregard for the past and future. We see some of these flippant, spontaneous, free qualities in Catherine, but at the same time it is a fa├žade. She grabs on to men and won’t let them go, she is selfish, needy, and scared. None of these traits let her live for the moments because she is always so worried about everything being fair, being wanted, and getting attention.

Another interesting subject evoked by the movie is whether woman can be cool. I think this is a ridiculous question. Of course women have the capacity to be cool. I don’t think that cool is a gender-exclusive quality. Women throughout time, even in 1912 Europe, had the capacity to be cool; many of them, however, didn’t have the courage to step past their gender-role and into what, at the time, was a man’s world. The qualities for cool are to some degree gender specific, but as we grow and evolve as a society, we move away from gender-specified roles. As women become more and more independent and society breaks free of masculine control, we see more and more powerful, competent, COOL women. Hilary Clinton is cool, Ellen is cool, Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby and Freedom Writers is cool, and innumerable other women are cool. What would keep a woman from being cool? Women, in my mind, are cooler than men. If I were going to list my top ten coolest people, there wouldn’t be one man. Doesn’t this then display to the ambiguous nature of cool? Is cool dictated by preconceptions, judgments, and stereotypes of each person? Is cool only an idea of what the majority agrees is acceptable and appealing? Cool can’t really be defined because what is cool to one could be meaningless to another, so besides the definition and embodiment of cool to the majority, there is no way to definitively assess something as cool or uncool.


  1. These moments that you talk about really are what make movies such bastions of cool. By only showing certain moments we are shown a hyperreal life in which ever moment is then set to be exemplary of the rest.

    What keeps women from being cool so often is that they as characters in life and in stories are depicted as being so dependent on someone else. This nature of being so attached is in opposition to the feeling of ironic detachment cool so often conveys.

    I would like to see your top ten list for cool.

  2. Top Ten List of Cool

    1. Abby Wambach
    2. Ellen Degeneres
    3. Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby and
    Freedom Writers
    4. Angelina Jolie in Wanted and Tomb Raider
    5. Missy Peregrym in Stick It
    6. Mia Hamm
    7. Jennifer Beals The L Word
    8. Demi Moore GI Jane
    9. Idgie Threadgoode in Fried Green Tomatoes
    10. Uma Therman Kill Bill