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.