Cool is doing what you want, as represented to some extent in Jules and Jim. Being a free spirit is cool, but you have to truly transcend society and society’s rules. Catherine definitely ignores the rules, starting affairs anytime she feels like it; however, she really is not free from societal constraints. She needs to feel wanted which keeps her moving from man to man. In order for her to be cool, she would have to be independent of everyone. Running down the street in men’s clothes shows her rejection of societal norms and indifference to the rules. She obviously doesn’t care what the greater society thinks; she lives with her husband, daughter, and another man she is having an affair with in the same house. Regardless, she is overly concerned with what the individuals around her feel about her, and she uses sex as a mode of gratification, to get a feeling of acceptance and love.
Independence, a rejection of conformity, is cool. Ren McCormack in Footloose, Ferris Buller in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Danny Zuko in Grease, Juno in Juno, and Idgie Threadgoode in Fried Green Tomatoes are all cool because they disregard what society tells them and decide to forge their own path. Many of us couldn’t imagine stepping outside the box and living just to live, not living to fit in or appease an authority figure. We consider these characters cool because they apparently live without thinking of the consequences, and some even appear to live above the consequences. Without being bound by the rules, there are all kinds of new doors that open up. It’s easy for us to relate to most of these independent characters because there is a part of all of us that wants to reject the rules and live without the ominous thought of consequences, rules, and norms. They are cool because they have the courage to step away from the majority and be different.
Another aspect of cool represented in Jules and Jim, is the cool of self-respect and dignity. Ironically, none of the characters in the movie displayed this cool, but by characterizing the opposite, they highlight the cool. If any of the men would have left Catherine after she cheated on them, it would have been cool. We would have respected this character because they can stand on their own two feet; they respect themselves enough to get away from a bad situation. It’s cool to be without any kind of emotional ties. We look up to people who can live alone or people, like the ones above, who are completely content making their own rules and living their life without a care in the world. Cool people are the ones who can live their lives, or at least give the appearance of living their lives, carefree. There’s isn’t a single person in the real world who is honestly carefree; its human nature to worry, stress, and have emotions. This is what makes it so cool to be completely free of worries; nobody can really achieve it. So, it becomes a contest of the artifice of carefree. Who can be the most seemingly carefree? A major factor in cool is being self-motivated, lighthearted, and indifferent to the rules so you can live an independent life “without stress.”