Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cool Through Your Own Eyes

The cool people in this world are not the ones who sit back and observe life; they are the ones who live and forge new paths for others to follow. The camera man in Bruce Lee’s movies is not cool because he caught amazing shots of Bruce Lee; he was watching cool, not living it. The same as Thomas is not cool since all he does is find what others see as cool through his camera. It’s great that we have people willing to spend their lives capturing cool, but by choosing that path, they basically surrender their own chance at cool to record others. Thomas was never cool as a famous fashion photographer; he was just being used by people who thought he could make them cool. The cool people in the film, if there were any, were those actually living their lives, in whatever way they decided to do that. Someone willing to take a chance, step out, and face rejection is cool. It’s not the ones taking the pictures that are cool, it’s the ones in them.

Movies are about the people who stir things up and do their own thing no matter what. Characters, like Thomas, aren’t memorable or classic, and definitely are not cool. Sylvester Stallone in Rocky or Al Pacino in Scarface are cool, timeless characters. People identify with them more than the plot of the movie because they do what most people couldn’t or wouldn’t; they defy rules and norms to live above the system. Cool is nonconformist but not anarchist. They still follow some set of rules, even if it is their own. The mimes running around in Blow-Up weren’t especially cool, just strange. All cool people have a purpose, some incentive or driving factor, usually internal.

Thomas wants to find purpose and meaning but can’t; he wants it so badly, he makes up meaning. We want to identify with the cool character and their meaning. So, if we don’t accept that her driving force is a valid one, whether or not we agree that it’s right, she isn't cool. Thomas has a reason for living, as does everyone, but he’s not cool. Serial killers in scary movies, like Hannibal Lector, Saw, or the killer in Texas Chainsaw Massacre aren’t cool, the people who stop them, the detectives, are the cool ones; we relate to their goals. The movies themselves may be cool, but when we aren’t able to identify in any way with the characters' motives, the characters don't transcend the movie and achieve cool.

The characters behind the scenes, like Thomas, searching for meaning in life, but in actuality just wandering around pointlessly are not cool. It's the one’s that take the risk of making mistakes and living with a definite purpose that we, as viewers, can identify with in some as cool.


  1. You are right, if you aren't making the action it is hard to be cool.

    Is the search for meaning so uncool, because there is no meaning in anything until we put it there?

  2. I think that's a really good point. We are meaning-creating machines and when we are just latching onto other people's meanings we become obsolete.