Sunday, March 15, 2009

Cool is Rebellion

An important aspect of cool in the film is, as Donna puts it, the Holy Trinity of cool: sex, drugs, and Rock and Roll. This counter-culture movement took America by storm. Rebellion is the undertone of all three of these ingredients of cool. All of them, in some way, go against fundamentalist Christian beliefs. Sex, especially today, is cool. It has, throughout history, been such a taboo; so, to throw it out in some way for everyone to see, even just hinting at it, is cool. Women in movies, whether or not it’s the image women should have, are cool because of their sex appeal in many cases such as the Italian Job. On the same token, drugs are cool because they are illegal and represent rebellion against society’s belief system. There are so many different attitudes toward drugs, as there is towards sex, that it lacks concrete definition as to what is moral or not. Rock and roll isn’t so much about tangible details of cool as much as the idea it represents encompasses the very definition of cool. The third piece of the trinity, Rock and roll, is rebellion, it’s careless and dissident, it’s loud, it’s fun, it’s unique, it’s young, it’s innovative, and it’s even transcendent. Hearing and being able to identify, forty years later, songs like Born To Be Wild and With A Little Help from My Friends while watching Easy Rider, demonstrates the classic cool in this movie; still today those songs are popular, and it’s not uncommon to hear references to Captain America and the movie in other contemporary films. Wild Hogs is a contemporary parody of Easy Rider, the four main characters are so uncool that it creates comic situation. Easy Rider is timeless; not only is the music being used forty years later, but movies are being made in reference to it.

Easy Rider depicts a type of cool that has been mimicked since that time, being a nonconformist. Even today, to be cool you have to be unique. The cool of being new and different and having the courage to stand up against tradition is basically the definition of American cool. Musicians like Elvis Presley, The Beatles, and Bob Marley were cool because they were radical and created new types of music and trends. The young generation doesn’t want to follow their parents and tradition, they want to rebel. So, they need cool people to lead them in their rebellion because all they know is conformity. This again brings up the ambiguous moral nature of cool. Depending on whose perspective you look from, all sides could possibly be acting morally right or wrong.


  1. I agree when you say that you have to be unique to be cool, but what about the typical cool-the people who are cool because they conform? These people all carry the same bags, wear the same brand of jeans, and follow the fashion magazines, and yet they are still cool. Why is this?

  2. I see your point in that sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll are often viewed as morally ambiguous. Does their moral amibiguity make them cool? Or can anything that is moral acutually be cool? Perhaps the fact that those 3 things are NOT moral make them cool...

  3. When it comes to the Holy Trinity of Cool, we all too often focus on the dissident side of these things. Yeah, sure, doing (at least too much of) these things is frowned upon by society, but is that where all of their cool is located? Is there nothing transcendent about them?

  4. Sex, drugs, and Rock n' Roll are not just at odds with Fundamentalist Christianity, but with any fundamentalist mainstream religion. It's usually because people see one of the three as a gateway drug to the other two - for example, rock n' roll will lead you down the dark path to sex and drugs. Considering the turbulent history of these ideals and the culture revolution of the 60s, do you not think, one some level or another, they were right? Do you think the anti-revolutionists/conservatives play a part in trying to check these movements? Do you think they are needed to at once fuel and stem these movements? This is certainly the place that anti-revolutionaries put themselves in.

    It's easy to deride the arguments and the people who make them, but I think we're hard-pressed to see how these movements could have happened without them.

    Good entry. :)