Welcome to Wild Card Wednesday. Today’s topic is an interactive one. I hope to entice everybody to participate.
Some time ago, we spent a week talking about Robert Mitchum. Several readers oohed and aahed over Robert Mitchum’s coolness. One reader suggested I blog about public personas who are just cool. That’s what I’m doing today.
What is Cool?
Cool is difficult to define. There is no universal definition. What one person thinks is cool might be the epitome of uncool to the person sitting next to them.
At a red light, my husband and I spotted a vintage Dodge Charger. It was cherry. The paint gleamed. The mufflers rumbled. I could practically smell the Armor All. We loved this car.
A relatively new Ferrari pulled up next to the Charger. My husband and I made fun of the Ferrari…and its owner. Other than having enough money to buy something like this, nothing about it appealed to either of us.
To us, the Charger was cool without trying to be cool. The Ferrari was uncool because it was trying so hard to be cool.
The moral of the story: many people would have thought just the opposite. They would have thought the Charger was an outdated piece of junk, that it belonged in the scrap yard, and that there was certainly nothing cool about it.
So cool is…
For me, cool is not necessarily what is new or shiny. It’s not what everybody else likes because a million people can be wrong. Cool is something almost undefinable, but I know it when I see it.
My old glass lamps are cool.
So is the round mirror on my vanity dresser.
But my crocs are definitely not cool, even though I think they are really comfortable.
The Elements of Cool
I asked my Facebook friends to name someone they considered cool and to tell me why they thought that.
I won’t name the people they named—let them do that in the comments—but I will discuss some of the traits they thought were cool:
- Physical Appearance
- That the person seemed confident, comfortable in his/her own skin
- Ability to age well
I agree with all these qualities to some extent.
Who Fits Each Element?
This is a tomato/to-MAH-to thing, but I’ll share my thoughts.
Physical Appearance: Ian Somerhalder, James Dean, Johnny Depp, Jim Morrison, Jensen Ackles
Confident: Pam Grier, Sean Connery, Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman
Talent: Kris Kristofferson, Stephen King, Joe R. Lansdale, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Al Pacino…I could go on forever.
Intelligence: Quentin Tarantino, Rob Zombie, Katherine Ramsland
Ability to Age Well: Ellen Burstyn, Rick Springfield, Diane Keaton, Michelle Pfieffer, Tina Turner, Sophia Loren
Mystique: Sean Penn, Christian Slater, Elizabeth Taylor, Juliette Lewis, Timothy Olyphant, Christopher Walken, Robert Deniro, Amelia Earhart
I’m Cool Because I Don’t Care
This kind of cool has its own subheading. We’re talking about the person who seems unbothered by the world in general. But he or she is so cool.
Steven Hyde from That 70s Show referred to this quality as zen. In one of the funniest episodes of the series, Steven teaches Jackie (who is very uncool) how to be cool.
Watch a clip of this episode I found on You Tube:
Steven Hyde tells Jackie the key to being cool is to use the words “cool” and “whatever” as a response to any and everything. This method is dependent on exuding the attitude that nothing is of any real concern.
This plays into the trait of mystique. Since nothing ever bothers the person who says “cool” or “whatever” all the time, people wonder what does bother that person…and how they got so cool.
The King (or Queen) of Cool
Steve McQueen was this kind of cool. His role in Bullitt is a good example of “I don’t care” persona. Even when Bullitt was engaged in the famous car chase, he was very, very cool and collected. That’s why Steve McQueen was called The King of Cool.
Some other examples:
Mickey Rourke (especially in Barfly, Rumble Fish, Angel Heart, and 9 1/2 Weeks)
Johnny Cash (need I say more?)
Samuel L. Jackson
Now that I’ve bored you all to death with who and what I think is cool, I’m going to turn the tables. Who do you think is cool? What do you think is cool? Why?