Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Cool Subversion

Now this is the last post of this blog... presumably we won't have to write again. The class has been great, so many good movies. So the theme of the week is "Cool Subversion". Of course the movie was Fight Club. Thanks to Google, I found out that subversion is corruption. It is the act of destroying something, usually from the inside. No fight club is all about that. Project Mahem uses the credit card's own employees to set up for the destruction of the buildings. Subversion is not seen only in movies, but in most people's everyday lives.

In the movies and TV shows, subversion is seen in many espionage movies. It is seen in The Italian Job when Steve sabotaged the group. It is seen in many TV shows when someone people trust turn on them. But in real life, this is when subversion becomes interesting. Subversion is one of the main tools that hackers implement to get the job done, and not just with computers either. Social networking is the number one way that hackers and con artists get money. They learn you, get you to trust them... the boom your money is gone. Now thinking about this is scary, and does not get the thought of cool, but it is pretty cool. The reason that it is cool is because to cause something to be destroyed from the inside out you have to first understand the subject completely. Look at people the implode buildings. The buildings fall seamlessly into itself, and it is wonderful. For a person to cause destruction from the inside, great skill is needed, much more than attacking from the outside. While not all subversion is cool, the way that people can implement is something that I see as being cool.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

There is Nothing to Talk About

This week in class was the last movie. I admit that it will be sad not getting to watch an awesome movie a week and get a grade for it, but what a movie to end it on. We watched the 1999 new classic movie Fight Club. The movie is the story of the recent life changing experiences of a man. We never find out the name of the man played by Edward Norton, which really upsets me. In any movie where the main character has no name there is usually some other strange happenings, and this is definitely the case in Fight Club. There are so many strange plot devices, camera angles, and just strangeness in general, but this is one of the reasons why I love this movie.

The movie deals with a schizophrenic office worker that has one bad ass imaginary friend, which is not revealed as being imaginary until the end of the film, but this is not one of the movies that is bad the second time you see it, you know who I'm talking about Number 23, but I found that I was able to see more of the movie this time I saw it. I had already seen it once before and liked it, but this time I loved it. I guess the first time I was not looking for the subtle humor or did not catch the oh so awkward moments between Marla and "the guy". It is strange how this movie can also make jokes about the way it is made. It has jokes about the dramatic irony of the movie, and also about the nonlinear time line of the movie. There are jokes about how Marla and "the guy" are both faking in the different support groups. Fight Club is definitely a funny action movie.

The part of the movie that I like the most would have to be the way it is shot. The dark shadows, the sometimes 3d shots that are given, the way that things just happen to pop up in the shot like it is a catalog, and most of all the gore that just looks very real. I like everything about the visual appeal of the movie. The story drug me into Fight Club, but it is the visual stimulation that makes me love the movie, and what sends the movie over the top of cool.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Understanding Cool...

With the movie of the week being Reservoir Dogs, I expected the theme of cool to be "Cool Heist" because of the nature of the film, or possibly "Cool Inspiration" because of how Quentin Tarantino was able to shape how action movies are shot. But when I saw that the theme was "Cool Literacy" I was confused. I was wondering how a movie full of violence, expletives, and awesomeness had a theme of literacy. It was then that I remembered that literacy can mean something other than the ability to read and write. Literacy can be defined as knowledgeable and educated in one or several fields, as in the phrase Computer Literacy. In this context, I can see how Reservoir Dogs is considered as Cool Literacy.

The characters in the movie all have there specialty, and they all know what to do. They are definitely literate in there respected field. This type of literacy is also seen in the movie The Italian Job. Each member of the team in that movie has a certain job. They are all literate at some aspect of the job that they are pulling. Charlie is idea literate, Stella is safe cracking literate, Lyle is very computer literate, Left Ear is explosive literate, and Handsome Rob is automotive literate. Each of these characters all have a certain literacy that definitely add to, and even define there cool. Another movie that shows literacy in this definition is Sweeney Todd. Now I chose this movie primarily to get out of the heist movies and try to convey the "Cool Literacy" thought in another form. Sweeney has quite a literacy in two things: being a barber and being crazy. He is the best barbor in London. He has mastered his trade and the speed that he can shave a man's face is amazing. The literacy he has in his craft is really one of the only things that makes his character cool. When literacy is seen as apptitude and skill, the trancedental properties of cool come into context, and many people can be seen as cool.

When looking at literacy as the trancendentaly cool aspect of a person, vast posibilities are opened up to what "Cool Literacy" could be. It is anyone that is good at there job, to kids that game so much. But when a person achieves that ultimate level of skill at something, they are cool. Wether that is the ultra-computer literate hackers, or a woman that can draw super realistic pencil sketches, or even a little kid that can read and write when they are four, they are cool.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Its Hip to be a Square

The North Face_______Members Only
Nintendo 64_________Sega Dreamcast
Star Wars___________Star Trek
Family Guy_________ South Park
SNL ______________Mad TV
The Wiggles_________ Barney
LEGOs____________ Linkin Logs
Erector Sets_________ K'nex
Humanism ________ _Catholicism
Raiders of the Lost Arc_ Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
4d movies __________ 3d movies
Rock Band__________ Guitar Hero
Domestic Partnership__ Same Sex Marriage
Marijuana__________ Meth
Lunch Box__________ Brown Bag
Mr. Furious_________ White Goodman
Apple _____________ Linux
Ottoman ___________Foot Stool
Wikipedia___________ Encyclopedia

I would like to start out by saying that I do not agree in the order that some of the things in my list are placed. Some things are labeled as HIP just because most of the main stream culture says it is hip (THE NORTH FACE), but that is not what this first paragraph is about. The first thing that I want to examine in my list is Erector Sets and K’nex. Now, both of these toys have been around for a while and they are both cool in there own rights, but one is more hip than the other. Erector Sets are hipper because lets face it, they are more dangerous. They are metal, come with lights and motors, and you can build so much more with them. K’nex have pre-cut pieces of plastic with pre-spaced gaps where you have to put the pieces together. Now both of these toys are fun, but K’nex have more constraints and less you could do with them, and they are safer which, to me, makes them less hip.

ow the second pair of items that I am going to discuss is Family Guy and South Park. The two are both cool, but society has deemed Family Guy to be hip and South Park to be square. Now the reason for this escapes me sometimes. The only thing that Family Guy has going for it is cult comedy. There are large breaks where random objects and jokes are stuck into the story line at any point. Now South Park has been nominated, and received awards for some episodes because of there content and subject matter, where it is viewed as square because of the humor that is used. One is seen as hip because it is “family” oriented, and the other uses harsh language that hits hard to viewers. Even though South Park conveys important messages, it is seen as square because of the level of “dirty humor”.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Obsession by Calv.... sorry wrong one

With the movie of the week being Paris is Burning, we saw many young, and older, drag queens that were obsessed with the ball seen, the fashion that went with it, and being seen as a legend in around their pageant community. The dictionary defines an obsession as an unhealthy and compulsive preoccupation with something or someone. I have to say that I do not agree with completely with this definition. Yes to be obsessed you have to focus on one subject so much that nothing else seems to matter, and yes sometimes obsessions take up your life (at least for a little while), but an obsession does not have to be unhealthy. But can an obsession be cool?

Now, by no means am I assigning an equality to obsession and cool, but they do not have to be different. There are many people that are obsessed with many different things. One of my favorite obsession-based groups is a rag tag bunch called Cyclecide. They are so obsessed with bicycles that they have reinvented them. They have made some awesome contraptions, and even a pedal powered circus. There obsession has definitely turned into something cool. Also, so many that are obsessed with the same thing that they made an MTV series about it, True Life. Now this series has some people that are suffering from diseases like turrets, autism, and acne. It also has the stories of people going through hard times like being a single parent, looking for there mother that gave them up for adoption, living in harsh places, and even alcoholism. But some stories are of different people that are all obsessed with the same thing, where it is being super competitive, loving to shop, or people that don’t fit in because they are obsessed with something. The one that sticks out in my mind is a high school student that is so obsessed with Glam Rock that the other kids at his high school won’t accept him. Now, I am not advocating Glam Rock by any means, but there is a part of cool in the story. The guy dresses how he wants, listens to the music he likes, and above all else he is true to himself. I know that sounds a little cliché, but I find it very cool that someone can be who they are no matter what.

On the other side of obsession it the kind that completely conquers your life, but in a bad way. This is the case that is shown in a show that I am currently watching, Avatar: the Last Airbender. In the show, Prince Zuko is obsessed with finding and capturing the Avatar, the world’s last hope for peace. Through the entirety of the series, no matter how much you think Zuko has learned and became a better person, he falls back because of his obsession. He hurts many, betrays his uncle, and just goes down the wrong path in general. Obsession is a tricky thing. To some it can bring ingenuity and self conviction, where in others it brings selfish greed. Obsession can be cool, but that is up to the obsessed.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Real Cool?

This week in class we watched a documentary film, Paris is Burning. It was made in 1990 by Jennie Livingston. The movie is a show all behind the scenes story of the fashion obsessed New York gay and transgender culture that created voguing and drag balls. It shows the stories of legendary drag queens and the upcoming legends of the new generation. At first, I did not know if a documentary could be a "cool" movie, I was also skeptical about the subject of the film. I did not know if I would classify dressing in drag would be cool, and I still don't know if I would call the drag outfits cool, and the way that they act wouldn't be considered cool, especially the arguments that were seen. Even though I don't know if that was cool, I do think that the way that each of the queens could do what they felt and had a place to be themselves. The idea of the different houses that the teenagers found to find understanding and a role model that they couldn't at home is a very cool idea. It is like the hippies of the 60s did, but these houses have different criteria to enter them, they are not just hang outs or hotels to the houses, they are families.

A large part of the movie is focused on "realness." In the movie they say that realness is the ability to pass for what they want to. In most cases, that is looking as much as a woman as possible. Some of the people in the movie were gender ambiguous. If I did not know that it was a male, I would not have been able to guess. And this could definitely be considered very cool. These people are being who they feel that they are, and this is cool to me because it is respectable. To be who you want to be and have a group of people to be there for you and understand you, no matter what, this is cool. However, there was another example of realness that I find less cool. The idea that real is being able to pass for something that you are not is less cool. The idea that if you can pass for what you are not, then you are a great actor, but if you are your not being yourself then I do not think that you are cool. The people like Pepper, Angie, Ninja, and the others that are who they are might be unique, but they are cool.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cool in a Different Sense

With this week's film being RoboCop, the theme of cool is 'Cool Satire'. Now you might ask yourself why the theme is 'Cool Satire' and not just 'Cool Coolness'. Let's face it, RoboCop is one cool movie, but in class we found out that the movie is a satirical look at the way that big business is in the 1980s. Now most people can see why someone would speak out about the way that the businesses were trying to just grow bigger and bigger. When it comes to satires in media, I see that there are two types:satires, like this one, that have a back meaning to the story that they are telling, and satires that deliberately poke fun of the subject that is being shown.

RoboCop is definitely the first type of satire. It uses its excellent action movie tricks to draw people in, then... POW satire. This type of satire has gone back far into history, from aincient Egypt and continues to today. Writers such as Jonathan Swift, John Dryden and Alexander Pope wrote satires in early England. Novels have been written by Orwell, Dickens, and many more, but my favorite would have to be Animal Farm. I believe I have mentioned this novel in the blog before, but it would have to be one of my favorite all time books, and definitely my favorite saterical work. It is one of the first political satires ever written. Orwell wrote it after the Spanish Civil War, and was pointed at critiquing Joseph Stalin. This book showed the horrors of the Stalinist regime. By sticking the story behind the story of animals on a farm overthrowing their owners, the message is out front, but not at first thought of. This is one of the best satires of all time.

The next group of satirical movie is one that comes out and makes fun of there subject right out. Such movies include the "Scary Movie" type of movies that are not cool by any means, but they get there point across by being as cheesy as they want to be. The point that they make is that [insert movie genre here] is getting to over the top, and they make no sense any more. Other movies/ TV shows such as Airplane, History of the World, part 1, and The Colbert Report use a direct satire, normally as comedy, but they get there point across. Sometimes there point is only comedy, but I think about one of my favorite cartoons of all time, Histeria!. The show uses satirical humor to allow people to learn history. Believe it or not, I have learned more history from this show than from most history teachers. Satire is a powerful tool in the right hands, and it can be cool.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Big Business is Evil

This week in class we watched the epic 1980s movie RoboCop. This is an awesomely cool movie. With the amount of action and violence that is shown throughout the movie, it is hard to believe that there is more to the story than shooting and explosions. The movie was written and directed as a satire of the US in the 1980s. The story starts off with a news report, a death at a large corporation that is seen only as a set back, and a new transfer to the Detroit police force, Murphy played by Peter Weller. The Sergeant welcomes him to hell. On his first day out, Murphy and his partner Lewis, played by Nancy Allen, follow a group of bank robbers to their hideout where the are at. They shoot Murphy many times with shotguns. First, they shot off his hand, then they opened fire on his chest, blowing off his arm in the fire. Lewis comes up to see him almost dead. He gets taken back to the hospital where they half heartedly try to bring him back to life with no avail. This is when we see the true evil that the director Paul Verhoeven is trying to depict... dun dun DUN big business corporations. They take the dead body of Murphy and turn him into RoboCop. They take away every piece of humanity that he has, even going to the lengths of removing his undamaged arm and replacing it with a mechanical one. The only part of humanity that is left is the basic organic functions of a body that keeps the RoboCop on the beat.

Even though the movie is a great example of an action movie that has gun shots, loosely connected plot points, and splosions (a splosion differs from an explosion in that it an explosion has a purpose and a splosion just happens for no reason (notice the tin shacks)). The movie is a satire on how the privatization of what are suppose to be public works will lead to greed and corruption of the people running the hospitals, prisons, and police to name only a few. When you look at the film as a satire, it works very well. The parts can be dissected to mean probably exactly what Verhoeven wanted it to say, but I feel if you do not look at the film as a satire, it turns into just an awesome action film. There is nothing wrong with either prospective, but I do not know if someone that is looking at an action movie would be struck by “Oh my god, business is evil.” Either way, RoboCop is cool.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Now You See Me, Now You Don't

This week in class we watches Saturday Night Fever, a classic blockbuster from 1977. This movie has it all, cool music, camaraderie, action, and much more. The movie stars John Travolta as Tony Manero, a misunderstood nineteen year old young man who seems to get crapped on by everyone until he steps onto the dance floor. There he is a god. He is in his own little world filled with big polyester collars, disco music, and flashing lights. When he is dancing he escapes to his own little world where the sky is the limit and the disco ball is his sun. This thought of being able to go off to another place and be who they want to be is done by everyone that has ever been trapped in the middle of a daydream while sitting through a lecture, any little kid that has ever made a space ship out of an empty box, and even many people that get lost in the middle of an exciting movie. Being able to be in a different place while sitting on the real world is a luxury that must be not taken lightly.

The practice of real world escapism is something that is seen in most parts of what humans do in there lives. People do many things to escape from everyday life. People read novels, play games, watch movies and TV shows, and many other personalized activities. The good thing about doing this is that you are safe in your room experience an out of the world adventure somewhere else. The genre of sci-fi embodies the ability to escape to another dimension. Being able to be side by side with a 30th century captain of a space ship fighting aliens from some other planet, what else could you ask for. Science fiction escapism is cool.

People also find escapes from the world by using drugs. Although the use of some drugs is illegal and definitely more dangerous than escaping from the world by dancing, books, or movies it still lets people escape. Now when psychedelic drugs combine with movies or music, then the escape from the world can be truly out of this world. This was first seen in the 1960s with some collegiate research, and continues to this day but now it is not legal. The mixture of music and hallucinogens can still be seen in the Rave culture. People role on ecstasy and dance to bass thumping music. They escape from reality with there counterculture like many other groups did before them. Drugs are questionable, but escapism is cool.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

In Defence of the Internets

Lets all be honest with ourselves right here and now, there is nothing else that can take enthrall you like the ever growing Internet. Anything that one wants to find to do is on the Internet, from LOLcats, to tons of demotivational posters, to this wonderful blog. Your imagination is the limit, at least here in America (I will speak about this later). There is a virtual world where people of many countries and cultures can interact with each other in many ways, be it Facebook, MySpace, HCOL, and many others. People and Ideas that were once worlds away are just a Google search to me. I have been told that I spend too much time just surfing the Internet, but that is fine with me. My tanks for random knowledge are just now getting started filling, and they are quite deep. I don't mind being called and Internet junkey because the Internet is the coolest.

There was once a point in my life where I did not have the Internet, these were dark days indeed. I now cannot imagine not being able to StumbleUpon many wonderful things. Ever since I was a child, I was compeled to know how to do, make, and build things. Of course, I had a few books that I learned from, and TV had a few shows, but these few devices did not have what I was looking for. I wanted to know more, be it that what I have learned will not get me far, but I love the randomness of what is possible to be made. When I first found Instructables, I was in love. The treasure trove of information that I found was wonderful. I have made many projects from that site, and continue to visit it religiously.

Now I know that I am making it seem like the Internet can do no wrong. This is not the case at all. With everything that is good comes equal evil, and possibly more. But with power comes responsibility. Everyone knows that you can download illegal movies, meet strange people, and even watch illicit materials, but this is where common sense comes into play, and if you are under the age of 18, parental guidance, and parents if you say "Well I'm not able to watch my kids 24/7... blah, blah, blah" a net nanny comes in handy. But you should not say that the Internet needs to be censored. Yet another reason why I have come to enjoy the Internet is it embodies the freedom of speech that needs to be allowed for a free society. There are many places that censor the Internet to there citizens, and I feel that this is not right. Anyone should be able to freely post what the wish on the Internet without government interference. The Internet is an extremely large entity. There are good and bad, but for the bad that is had so much more good can come from it. Knowledge should not be censored, cool is about not being censored, I have been to the top and the bottom of the Internet, and I love it.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Colorless Cool

John Shaft the coolest "brother" of them all. In class this week, we watched Shaft and learned that it was considered a "blaxplotation" film, maby the first of the genre, and that it was directed by a black man with an mostly black cast. An argument can be made that instead of being just a movie that was made for black people, the way they wanted to, and shows a strong independent black man that was certainly cool, that the blaxplotation films in a way created the black stereotype that is in the 1970s and is still around today. Even though the stereotype of urban black people was spawned, the movies were cool. They gave black people an identity that they wanted themselves to have, not the stereotype of ultra dart big lipped aunt-Jemima-esk that the white people of the 1930s gave them. There is definitely something cool about being able to define yourselves.

When it comes to the concept of being a cool minority there are many people who belong to minorities that are very cool. Will Smith, Dave Chappelle, Jackie Chan, Tiger Woods, Vin Diesel, Harold and Kumar, and many others. I have no doubt that a minority can be cool, but I do not believe your ethnicity should play a factor in determining if you are cool or not, and I also do not think someone should recieve "cool points" for being a minority. Saying that you are cool because you are black is like saying all black people are good at basket ball, just another stereotype. People can be cool no matter the color of there skin, but since the blaxplotation era of films some the view of the black culture is one that deals with drug dealers, pimps, unfavorable women, and to be disrespectful to authority. Cool is a personality thing, or a skill thing, not a race thing.

Now on the other hand, there is a factor of cool when a person of a minority rises above the stereotype of what is expected of them and achieves something wonderful. This is seen in the movie Freedom Writers. This movie is about the inspirational group of inner city students that rose above what others thought would be there unavoidable future. The movie is inspirational, heart touching, and very cool. The rising above of the stereotype is also seen in the rap star T.I. Cool is something people can be or do no matter of there race.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

He's a ba... Oh You Know the Rest

This week we watched Shaft, not the 2000 remake with Samuel L. Jackson, but the classic movie from the 1970s right after the end of the civil rights movement. With this class being about cool, I agree totally with the selection of this film. If there were ever a man in a movie who knew he was cool, it would be John Shaft. He does his thing and changes his persona for no one, not even the cops. He is so cool that the cars will even stop for him while he randomly crosses the street. He talks to the cops like he owns them and they just let him. When it comes to respect and power, Shaft is cool

Now Shaft is cool because he is good at what he does. He is a private eye, and somehow can find out about anything just from the word on the street. He finds out relatively fast that Bumpy's daughter was kidnapped by the Italian mafia, a fact that I think would have been very difficult to learn. Shaft is also able to take a group of people off of the street, storm where they are keeping her and get her back. This can be taken in ether he does his job well, which is cool, or he was doing the right thing by getting back an innocent girl from the mob, which is also cool. No matter how you take it, Shaft is cool.

There is only one thing negative that I have to say about the movie. The film took the role of the cool jive black guy too far. There are many times where he was a smart ass and did not have to be. The over playing of the strong minority stereotype can be seen as giving power to people who believe all black people are disrespectful to authority. Shaft did not have to be a dick to the cops, but it was cool.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Rebel with a Cause

So when a minority of people have a problem with how the majority of people are being governed a rebellion is soon to follow. In this class we are suppose to show resemblances of how the genres of cool in the movies that we watch correspond to other forms of that cool in newer multimedia sources. This practice has been all well and good for the other "cools" that we have seen, but when the genre of "cool rebellion" came up, I just did not believe that only the views of other movies and video games would do the thought justice. Rebellion is not a plot device created by authors or movie directors, it is an occurrence in history and throughout the lives of some people everyday. Some people do it for freedom, some do it for corruption, and some do it because it is life. Because it is part of life, rebellion makes it into the movies and other media.

Of course this rebellion makes for good action and then is made into, in most cases, novels first, then it goes onto other genres. One of the greatest novels that I can think of that fit this bill is Animal Farm. This classic book depicts the rebellion and revolt of a group of animals on a farm that find that they are stronger than their "captors" and have the power to overthrow them and take over the farm. This book also shows that "Absolute power will corrupt absolutely". A classic result of a rebelion that started out cool but then quickly went down hill, like so many forceful takeovers have done, and this was the difference between most other rebellions and the counter culture of the 1960s.

The biggest difference that I see between a "regular rebellion" and the rebellion of the counter culture is the line between the types of cool. The idea behind the counter culture movement was definitely part of the transcendent cool. The culture wanted to break apart rom the rest of the culture of the time and do there thing and be self sufficient. However, this was soon infiltrated by people who just wanted no responsibility. So the rebelion of peace was conquered by there purposes. They wanted peace for all. They accepted everyone and this killed their movement. But just because there was no fighting like with the Alliance, but it could have worked. I am not going to say that rebellion is cool, but the results can be.

(No collaboration with Rebels with a Cause)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Kidneys Say Goodbye

This week we watched Easy Rider, a classic on the road movie from the 1960s. This movie was great, and (sorry Dona) a big step up from the last two. The movie shows the trip of two followers of the counter culture of the time Bill and Wyatt, played by Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda. The opening scene starts off by the two doing a cocaine deal, which at first gives the idea that they are just two seedy characters in the drug life, but my opinion of these two men changed very quickly. It seems that the two are just trying to live their lives and be free.

This wish to be free is what the counter culture was all about. They wanted to be free from "the man". This idea of being free from society, and creating your own independent community that would allow you to be fully sustainable, do what you want when you want it, that would be a great life and the people who thought of it had a good thought. The idea was a wonderful thought, but the problem was with the execution. Sure, the want to be free is wonderful, but what hurt the counter culture movement is that want to be free of everything. Free from duties, free from responsibilities, free from inhibitions, and nothing takes away inhibitions like drugs. Now I know that when you think of the counter culture you have to think of the major use of hard drugs. In the movie it seemed that the drug use was an every day event, but the use of some had more of a ritual use. The ritual use of drugs would have allowed the movement to have a better chance, if it would have stayed that way, but when the use of LSD and other harder drugs on a recreational basis, this caused more harm then good.

Another thing that is show in the movie is that when someone goes against the norm of society people will look down on them. This is seen when Billy and Wyatt are in the south, and sadly the south is the main place in the nation where different is bad. Being a guy with long hair, I have gotten my fair share of looks and "you need a haircut" comments. Sadly, this seems to be the trend in the southern part of the US. People don't like change and definitely hate different. I wish this was different, but I'm sorry to say that the stereotype is hard to break.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

American Culture is the Coolest

This week was about the culture of a region being cool, and what can be cooler than America. Now I am not saying that America is the best country out there, but it certainly is cool. Think about it, when you try to describe the primary culture of America, what do you say? There really is no answer to that question. With the culture of America there is not much one culture, but many subcultures that are abundant. There are so many scenes that have been cool, from grunge to punk to the nerdy cool of today. The fact that we are willing to mix and blend the cultures of various places and groups just lets our own culture grow more.

But if I were to ask someone from another country what they thought of when they heard "American Culture" they would probably say the hip-hop culture. Now this culture is not completely known for it's cool. It is known for violence, explicit lyrics, and it is known for the graphic nature of the music videos that are made. But some positively cool things have come out of the culture of hip-hop, and some sub-cultures have spawned from hip-hop.

Even though the hip-hop culture is not the "primary American culture, it has impacted the world over. From Japan to France and even the middle east, hip-hop's popularity has grown and people take the culture to new levels. A TV show has spawned, people do inhuman dance feats, and make music the likes no one could have imagined. Hip-Hop culture is cool.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

In the Place of Cool

Personally, I have never been a prime spokesperson for the feelings or thoughts for "my generation". There is just something about me that thinks that some things are just way cooler than others see it (I believe this is the rise of nerd cool that has risen in our generation in the last decade). There are many places and times throughout history, and hopefully will continue to be, that are considered cool.

When many people with a common interest to express themselves and to create art get together in a common place, an air of cool clouds over that settlement like the spread of a wild fire. The city springs up almost over night, that is with months of planing, the time is every year for a week at the end of August. Tens of thousands of people arrive, themed camps spring up, mobile sculptures move around freely, freedom of expression is enforced and a must. This city exists for just this week in the middle of the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. The coolest of desert cities is known as Black Rock City, and even though it is only inhabited for a few weeks at a time it is the coolest of cool. The city is an explosion of the cultural love for art and expression brought about by the Burning Man Project. That is right, the city is the site for the annual Burning Man Festival.

This city might not be seen by most as cool, but it is. Groups of people together because they do something cool, like make a flock of mobile cupcakes, or have huge art exhibits for the rest of the people to enjoy. The freedom and lively hood of the city over that short week lets me think that it is cooler than all the other cities that are around all year and into history. These people join together for a sole purpose to share there love for art, and this is cool.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Cool Without Others

So with this week's movie, Jules et Jim, and what I fell of the ambiguity of, and possible lack of, cool in this movie I feel it more appropriate to write this weeks second blog with relation to part of the discussion that was had in class after the movie. It was said that part of being cool is doing what you want, when you want. Cool is having power over others, it is being a big shot, it is having respect from others. The question is if a woman can be a cool as a man, and does the fact that she is a women change what makes cool cool.

I believe that women can be just as cool as men. There are many movies and TV shows that show that women can be just as cool. In The Chronicles of Riddick Kyra is super cool. She is independent, awesome, doesn't take , can kick ass, everything that would make someone cool no matter the gender. She is able to stay right with Riddick in the fighting, running, and is only lesser in a level of brute force strength. Kyra is cool. In The Devil Wears Prada, Meryl Streep plays the very powerful Miranda Priestly, a self made editor of a prestigious magazine. She has respect, she is powerful, she answers to nobody. She is a very cool woman. Last, I will mention Fiona Glenanne from the TV series Burn Notice. Fiona is one of the coolest women I have ever seen on a movie or TV show. She can take care of herself, people are afraid of her, and she can blow stuff up (what more do you want in a woman). All of these women are very cool and they have trates that would make anyone cool.

o now the question comes up why is Catherine not seen as cool when she has many of the same traits that these other women share. She is independent, she does what she wants without caring what others think of her, but one factor comes up in my eyes that does not make Catherine cool. Catherine does not care about who she hurts, and even hurts people on purpose. In all of my other examples, there is at least one person that they care about, and even Kyra, a hardened criminal cares about the others in the prison and Riddick. So, at least to me, you cannot be cool if you just don't care about anyone else.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

OMG... What Just Happened

This week in class the topic of cool is cool love. We sat down to watch the movie of Jules et Jim at 6:00 pm central standard time, the movie ended at 7:45. At this time I couldn't help but just sit there and ask my self "Is the movie over? What was that? What just happened?" I understand that the film was part of the French new wave film movement, and I also know that many people feel that this film is wonderful and cool... but I just didn't get it. I did enjoy that way that François Truffaut was able to take the pieces of stock footage that he had and use it to his liking, this tactic was able to pull together clips from actual war footage and other places to convey the feeling that Truffaut wanted. The way that the film was made and the ideas that were behind the production were definitely cool.

As for the story being cool... I'm just not seeing it. The only thing that I saw cool in in the movie was the friendship that Jules and Jim shared. One was German and one was French, during the war, the only thing they were worried about were not killing the other. No matter what, they were friends. There friendship doesn't change until Catherine appears. They both like her, but Jules asks Jim not to go after her, which Jim obliges. They treat her like a queen for a while, and they are all content. Everything seems cool for a while until after the war, then we find out Catherine's true nature. Catherine does what she does when she does it. This quality could be seen as cool, but she does not care who she hurts in the process. This little factor takes away part of what makes her cool. I see cool as a force like karma, you add the good and bad and if it is positive you are cool. Catherine just had to many negative actions for me to view her as cool. Then she turns completely crazy and pulls a gun on Jim, someone she said she loved. Not only that, she drives both of them off a bridge, not cool. The movie just has to many points that I see as not being cool for me to say that it was cool.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

An Air of Cool in a Dark Place

With the many years between current films and the films of WWII, there is no surprise that the film noir movies of the past have had a direct impact on the movies of today, and why wouldn't they. Film noirs are dark, have seedy characters and sexual tension, and have a fem fatal that is sometimes to die for. Now, if we look just at the quality of being dark, then that is not really going to help find the film noirs. There are many films that use a dark setting and dynamic shadows to show an eerie sense. I feel that the main part of the film noir is not just the darkness, but the fact that almost every character has something to hide, something dirty, something that could be possibly cool.

If we focused on the darkness many films could be seen as film noir, Sweeney Todd, Fallen, anything that Tim Burton does. But this is why I see the defining point of film noir is the character action. When almost every character in a movie has a dark character, has something to hide, or is just plain bad then the movie becomes a film noir. Now when I think of movies with characters that have those traits I immediately think of Sin City. Sure, the movie is dark and shadows were blatantly made to look dramatic, but the characters just made me feel dirty when I saw the movie for the first time. It is about a corrupt city where one man is looking to save a girl from "The Yellow Bastard". The feeling that everyone is just a bad guy goes throughout that movie. After thinking of this movie, I began to think that many writers and artist of graphic novels have film noir qualities. This then goes over to film with films just like Sin City or Batman Begins. The graphic novels are black and dark, and this leads over the the big screen when they get made into movies, as so many of them do.

I was thinking of a great movie where the characters have something to hide and I thought of one of my favorite movies of all time, Who Framed Roger Rabbit. This movie has everything that a classic film noir has, dirty characters, dark settings, a detective that hates cartoons and just wants to find out the truth, a fem fatal, and a mimic of Keyes in Baby Herman. It has everything to make a noir a noir, and it did it in a very original way.

I stand behind my original thought that the characters that are in film noirs are not cool by them selves, but the movies in a whole are very cool.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Dark Place is Cool

This week in class we watched a classic film noir movie, Double Indemnity, a movie where almost everyone is guilty of something. These type of movies were released during the time of WWII and hit Europe after the war was over. This is when many people started seeing similarities in the movies made during this time. It seemed that all of the movies had dark shadows and had a grimy feel to them. Dark shadows, dark people, and especially dark women. And I guess that is what would make it a black film.

So in the class we are suppose to be looking at the different types of cool and what makes us think that they are cool, but while watching this movie the male and female leads were anything except cool. Phyllis is a conniving, corrupt, crazy woman and Neff is willing to plan to kill her husband without being asked. Phyllis's husband is a drunk and portrayed as a looser. The only person that has a shred of dignity is Keyes, and to me, he is the only cool person in the film. There is just something about Keyes that makes him cool. I don't know if it is his ability to solve even the strangest of cases, or that he wants to believe that Neff didn't have anything to do with the murder because he was his friend.

I would have to say that the movie is cool, but most of the people are not. I like the dark shadows and the way that the movie is made, but the characters and shady are definitely not cool. This movie showed me that a movie could be a cool movie but have lame characters.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Monkey See... Monkey Do

With the constant pop-culture influence on everything these days, it is very likely that what is seen, heard, or read is directly influenced by a previous person's work, or a direct update of the work. This is common, and I am not saying that it is wrong. After all, imitation is said to be the most sincerer form of flattery. Imitation can be as blatant as goths, Elvis impersonators, Cosplayers, or mini-Kiss. But I am sure that almost everyone has someone that they look up to and base there persona on. This form of imitation is seen in the movie Pitch Black. The character Jack wants so badly to be like Riddick. He (later found out to be she) fashions a pair of goggles to imitate Riddick, wishes to get a "shine job" on her eyes, and in The Chronicles of Riddick gets put into a prison that Riddick had been previously in. She idolized Riddick and wanted to be just like him.

Another type of imitation is the imitation of a belief or idea that one person sees. This has been seen through the years including the spread of communism with Marx, the followers of Che Guevara, and many more. You see this view in V for Vendeta. Sure at the end of the film, there is a mob of people that are dressed just like V, but that is just a visual cue that they all believe in what he is speaking out about. These people believe in the same ideas that are being spoken out by V, but are unable to speak out because of the corrupt government. The idea and the man are looked up to and passionately followed by many.

With so many people looking up to others in society, what would happen if someone that you looked up to lets you down? What if the person that you think is so great ends up to be just ok? Most people would feel let down and find someone else to look up to... but in extremely small amounts of these cases, the person that was let down could turn into a super villain who has the life goal to kill the person they looked up to. That's right, I am speaking of Buddy Pine/ Syndrome from The Incredibles. Buddy looked up to Mr. Incredible when he was a child, but when he was let down he turned into a villain that vowed to kill Mr. Incredible. Now, I am not saying that everyone that is let down by a person they look up to will try to kill them in the end, but there emotions will take a hit. Everyone looks up to a person so you could say that individualism goes only as far as who you copied it from.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Voices in my head... Cool?

This week we watched Play it Again, Sam with Woody Allen. Throughout the movie Allen sees Bogart in his head telling him what to do and always taking his cues from him. So the question was brought up by Donna, who is the voice in my head? This should be an easy question to answer, ok... who is in my head when I want to be cool? That's easy, I think of... hum... not so easy a question.

So, who would I think of? Well, I don't thin that it as simple for me as just to pick one person like some people can. I think that for the voice that tells me how to be "that guy", I would have to pick Danny Zuko from Grease. He gets the girls, he knows cars, he is cool. So that's the guy that when I am talking to people, or just don't want to look like a looser that's who talks to me.

But, when I think of doing something odd, or building something, I thing of Adam Savage from the Mythbusters. Yes I know that this might be one of the nerdiest things that I could have said in a class dealing with cool, but he is awesome. Anyone that gets to do the things that he does and to build the thngs that he does, that is the epitamy of what I think cool is. So, when I am trying to not be a looser, Zuko, and when I am trying to build... Savage.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sacrifice for Cool

This weeks brand of cool is the "cool sacrifice". It is common in recent movies to see a character that has to make a sacrifice that greatly impacts them. The sacrifice that I am speaking of is not like a virgin being thrown into a volcano to appease the gods, being eaten by native peoples to release you from your mortal bonds, or getting rid of something that you could live without. I am talking about having to give up something that shakes you soul. The reason why the personal sacrifice tactic is used so much in the film industry is because people can feel empathy for the character that has to make the sacrifice. The pain, anguish, mental dilemma, all things that a person would not want to experience themselves but can identify with.

One large category of the self sacrifice is when the main character has to give up something that is very important to his/her self. This usual has to do with the loss of the main character's happiness, as seen when Rick has to let Ilsa go for the good of the resistance movement. This act of self sacrifice shows that Rick is willing to let his heart be hurt so that a larger picture can be painted. This is also seen in Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At Worlds End. At the end of the movie, Will Turner stabs the heart of Davy Jones and becomes the captain of the Flying Dutchman. Sure, Turner is now immortal, a ship captain, and a very cool guy, but he can only see his love Elizabeth Swann one day every ten years because he freed his father. He has to only be able to see his son and his love once every ten years, but he kept his promise to his father.

Another archetype of the self sacrifice is giving one's life for something that they believe in. This is seen in the movie Armageddon. Bruce Willis' character chooses to get left behind on the asteroid to blow it up manually, letting his daughter's fiancée to live and saving the earth. In I am Legend, Will Smith kills himself and a large hoard of The Infected, allowing Anna and her brother Ethan to escape with the cure for the infection. These people are seen as cool for giving up their entire being to save something they think is more important than themselves. I believe that this lets people view the main character as a Christ figure. The giving of ones life to save the life of others (according to the Christian doctrine). No matter weather the sacrifice of oneself is only emotional or for life, the sacrificial character is definitely cool.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Casablanca is Heavy

So this week we watched Casablanca, a movie that I have already seen about five or six years ago. When I saw it then I have to admit that I absolutely hated it. I am not sure whether or not I just was prejudice against black and white films back then or what, but when we watched it last night, I thoroughly enjoyed it. All things considered I am surprised that I liked it. I usually hate romantic movies and want to avoid them at all cost, but Casablanca does not focus the movie's whole plot around Rick and Ilsa's love story, but uses his past to show why Rick is the way he is, and to let the audience know the sacrifice that Rick is having to make.

Starting very early on Rick is a very cool character. He is extremely neutral, which could be a symbol of the policy of the US during the start of WWII. Rick is so cool because he does what he wants, when he wants, and it does not matter what anyone else thinks he is going to do it. He sticks his neck out for no one. This mentality is what sets Rick apart and shows that he is cool, he is a heavy character, he is Rick and this is his Cafe. Rick is a bad ass, the definition of cool, and continues to be one throughout the film. It is not until Ilsa comes into the Cafe that we see Rick change, and we find out why Rick acts the way he does.

Even though Rick is a heavy character (which probably comes from Humphrey Bogart's other previous roles in gangster movies) he shows a side of himself that many people can agree with. Rick has had his heart broken and does not want that to happen again. The flash back that he had let me see Rick as a doer. He does what he can to get what he wants, or in this case does not want. This is why at the end of the film Rick lets Ilsa and Victor leave. He helped them because he knows that people look up to Victor and he must thrive to make a difference. However, Rick has to sacrifice his love with Ilsa to achieve this goal. At the end of the film, Rick is still cool, but for his sacrifice, not for his "I don't give a damn" attitude.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Struck by a Smooth Criminal

This week we saw The Public Enemy, an early gangster movie that was filmed in 1931. From the text box at the end of the film, it is clear that this movie was made to show the dirtiness of the criminal life and to tell people that the only way to eliminate it was not to partake of it, support it, or benefit from it. Though the movie definitely had an anti-gangster message to it, I just couldn't help but see a certain coolness that the character Tom Powers has. He becomes successful, he gets the money, the girls, the cars, the power, it seems like the police won't touch him, and his name is even Powers. What cannot be cool about this guy? He definitely has that factor that gives him that dissident cool. But why do people identify with this?

I think that most people see the gangster appeal with a pair of rose colored glasses because the whole lifestyle is about breaking the law, and that concept of being something other than a law abiding citizen has an air of excitement about it, and I see it as well. The movies make it out to seem that if you are a gangster then you can have it all. Movies like Scarface, Reservoir Dogs, and The Godfather all show the great side of being a gangster. You get the respect, the power, the money, everything that you can ask for... right? Most of these movies also show a downfall, mostly death, that the gangster has to face. But the success, power, action it appeals to people. So the media market has picked up on it and started marketing a video game with this premises. That's right, I'm talking of the Grand Theft Auto series. This game is designed to let a person to live out their fantasies of carjacking people, shooting other gang members, doing odd mafia jobs, or what ever you want (I'm sure that the games have a story line you are suppose to follow, but i never had the patience to finish one of those games).

There is another part the cool that comes from being a gangster that I feel does not get thought of as much, the "Robin Hood" type of gangster. Sure they are breaking the law and usually have many cool traits about them, usually being that they get the girl in the end, and this is a slightly more
transcendent cool. This is seen in the movie American Gangster. Sure, he is a gangster, and yes he is breaking the law, but he gives some of the money back to the community and that is very cool. So wether it is the want of material possessions or the want to keep the balance of power, people find gangsters cool. Gangsters are cool, but remember it is a hazardous job.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cool Through My Eyes

What is cool? Many people think that very differently about being cool, what is cool, who is cool, or even what makes up that certain factor that denotes cool. I'm sure that if you were to survey ten people to tell you something that was cool you would get at least five different answers. They would probably be from Glam Rock to Madonna and many in between.

Guitar Hero II
Invader Zim
Halo 3
Chuck Norris
Star Wars

Many people see cool as the kind of person that goes against society, the rebel without a cause, someone like the legendary James Dean.

Some people say that James Dean is the epitome of cool. He lived his life how he wanted to, he was famous, he was becoming a big star, and he was a bad ass. One of my favorite quotes comes from him. He said,

Dream as if you will live forever,
Live as if you will die today.

The style in which he lived his live is cool. He would have been a cool person to hang out with, and he definitely did many cool things, but in total I would not think that personifies cool.

So what do I think is cool? That's a hard question because usually what I think of as cool, most people would think of as being nerdy, but I believe F-John said that nerdy can be cool.


I like transcendent cool. I think that the coolest is when someone can build, make, create, modify, or just do awesome things because they have spent a great amount of time practicing and doing what they do no matter how nerdy it might be. In my book, some of the coolest people are the people that can make amazing 3d computer art, the people that can play some video game outrageously well, anyone that goes to the Burning Man festival, and personally anyone that can build or create anything is cool.

This is Bre Pettis. He does video Podcasts about the things that he makes. He creates many things and is very cool. Anyone that can create something from a DIY mp3 player to zombie makeup to a bicycle out of spare parts has something that appeals to me. I don't know if it is my nerdy side or my creative side, but ether side it is it is cool.

Monday, January 26, 2009

New Technology, it is New and it is Cool

In my last post I said that when motion pictures debuted, they were a smashing hit. Instant cool. It was an idea that hit the ground running and is still running as fast as it can go, and what more did the people expect. The short films produced at the time were like magic. Being able to watch motion and not being there, quite honestly I wish i could have been there. Even if I was not there during that historic period of time, I was there when video exploded onto the Internet, and to me that was almost just as big of a feat. To believe that video can be watched from anywhere that has Internet at any time that I want to... wow this is truly amazing.

I know that the invention of streaming video on the web is not the same as inventing video. Sure this innovation was not as spectacular as the invention of motion picture but it was still very cool. It is the same kind of excitement and boom that the film industry had at the beginning. People could not get enough to get the chance to post a video to get their voices heard and to get their faces onto the screen (even if this one was not all that big at times). Thousands of videos hit the web displaying all types of cool and many others that were not as cool. Quite quickly many people became stars in their own rights on sites such as YouTube, MetaCafe, and many others. Not only this, but people can post a video of themselves commenting on the video that they are watching.

The similarities between the earliest films and the start of popular Internet videos and even the sometimes disturbing viral videos. The first popular videos of the start of the film era were short and had many different subjects, it was not until later when films began to get longer. The first short films such as Edison's "Fred Ott's Sneeze" are very short and catch attention. Many clips can be seen on Internet sites that are very short and comedic like Edison's, and there are even modern day magicians like Méliès. I feel that comedy can be expressed in a shorter time span than any other emotion in film. Although short films can be funny and full of emotion, I would never give up the feature length films as far as an enjoyment and fulfillment, but if you want a quick laugh you can always watch the short classify "Internet Nickelodeons" of: Hey Marine!, Star Wars Kid, Afro Ninja, or my personal favorite! Either way, the fad of Internet video might become uncool eventually, but I feel that film will always be cool.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Beginnings of Cool, Film, and the Merging of the Two

This week, we spoke of the origination of coolness. With so many people today striving to be thought of as cool and even so many other people going against the norm that they feel cool is something completely different. So what is cool, and where did it come from? According to F-John, the concept of cool came from the slavery era. Being cool for a slave was to be able to take whatever was thrown at him and still be able to keep his composure. These actions are considered a type of ironic detachment, which has been a key concept of being cool until the present. Cool kept evolving, got picked up by white people, and lead the way for the establishment for different scenes to come along and let people escape from reality. These escapes have led to many different ways that objects in our society can be seen as cool. There are many types of cool that have come to the fore front. Dissident cool (which is associated with people such as James Dean, is about rebellion, irony, and anti-establishment), transcendent cool (associated with impassioned and constructive people), nostalgia cool, geek cool, and the list can go on. Anything that a person sees as cool can be in one or many of these categories. But is there a point where something cool gets to over played and no longer is cool? I answer this question with a resounding yes. Many people know something that they thought of as cool, but when many people start doing it, the coolness just seems to fade away and loose every bit of cool it ever had. Most of the time, this seems to happen when a "cool" idea becomes corporate. It is my feeling that there can be a circular pattern in coolness. When something is obscure it is not cool, but then it gets a small following and poof cool, but then it starts getting too many people liking it and then it is just some played out fad. Later, those things make a rebirth in society and have a sort of nostalgia cool behind them. Cool can be complicated.

We also learned some of the early history of film. The earliest of films were simply made and just a few seconds long. Pioneers such as Edison, the Lumière brothers, and a magician Georges Méliès created the film industry, and it grew very large very fast. Companies started putting out movies at a very fast and almost industrial pace. The film industry learned new techniques very quickly. Many techniques that we take for granted were huge break through when they were thought of. Stop motion, double exposure, close up shots, point of view shots, and many more that we see in every movie that is made now.

So, when the movies came out they were almost automatically cool and very popular. This is usually what happens when something debuts. Most of the time people will find a new advancement very cool and exciting, but then people have time to make there true opinion of the new object. Then it is just a waiting game. Luckily people love the movies and continue to find them cool. So was the creation of the motion picture and the start of the film industry cool? I would definitely say yes.