Our entire culture, here in The West, is based around just one word; everyone seems to want to be classed as ‘Cool’.
What exactly is ‘Cool’?
OK, the initial description that springs to mind is ‘to be desirable’ or ‘to be enviable’. However the word goes further that this. This kind of desirable persona has its roots firmly in the post-war consumer age, or possibly back to the beginning of Hollywood, with the birth of the Movie star heroes’ especially the ‘lovable rogues’. But why are these characters who possess an attitude of living on the edge, with no care for anything but maintaining the cool dude look, the ones we all, not just want, but end up having to be like?
The thing is, ‘Cool’ goes nowhere, it encourages kids to grow up too soon and then, as adults, to stay young forever. Cool is the size 30 jeans that are constricting an entire era of people into a need to be forever good looking and desirable. The essentials To be cool, are to be going nowhere, doing nothing, saying nothing, but just standing there, in a pose that says ‘I am it’
For those of us, who find a life of trying to be desirable and enviable too much of a shallow path to take, we still have to join in to at least some extent, just to be able to survive and have a chance of attracting an opposite member of the sex – as cool is perfectly manufactured to attract the other sex – and as more people drape themselves in more desirable material accessories, the more one finds themselves being, reluctantly, sucked into this vacuum. Nobody wants to be ugly, but everybody who doesn’t start to ‘perfect’ their image, start to look ugly, just by standing still, and this is all cool does, creates a world of dud and samey ‘Cool dudes’ who cannot help but perceive the none entities as blotches on humanity. In this culture, where material gain is everything, we look up with envy, instead of down with empathy, if we see an ‘undesirable’ we are most likely to scorn them for being so.
My fashion sense has always been caught in the middle of ‘plain clothes man’ and ‘1990’s Indie kid’, as one becomes aware that they have no choice put to ‘play to’ the social circles they are most likely to be nearest to. This is to be accepted and, ultimately, to be successful in finding a member of the opposite sex. We are still much more primitive creatures than we think. We value each other on how many shiny things we have managed to accumulate.
Individualism hasn’t worked largely because it is based on illogical and contradictory terms, which leave us wanting to be more like somebody else – because what they are is viewed to be better than what we are. ‘cool’ plays on the ideas of individualism i.e. by showing us people who seem to have grasped utter freedom to do what they like, yet it encourages the exact opposite, as it encourages one to fit in with the crowd – as opposed to being a ‘misfit’ a word which actually means more or less the same thing as ‘individual’.
So, the ideas of collectivism have been applied to a system promoting individualism, which in turn, as made society a place of frantic consumers, trying to find who they are, yet at the same time trying not to stand out from the crowd too much. A consumer society cannot help but contradict itself.