Monday, January 26, 2009

Broadcasting "Cool"

D'y'ever pay any attention to what other people broadcast to the world as "cool"? Or, contrarily, think about what your outward appearance, and the choices you make therein, say about you? I got to thinking about that this morning as I turned a corner and got behind this guy:

Ahh yes, the once-ubiquitous Yosemite Sam "Back Off" mudflaps. I remember seeing these all the time in the truck-heavy '70s. Thing is...why does it seem like they're always sported by some dude who ain't driving all that well to begin with? In the first place, it's kind of an arrogant thing to be saying to the world behind if we can't judge for ourselves what the "personal space" boundaries are on the road, and have to be reminded. By you. You, who are telling me what those boundaries are via a tempermental cartoon character who communicates by shouting and is just a little too itchy on the draw for my comfort. Secondly, I practically have to be sitting on my own hood, just two feet behind your bumper, to read your message anyway...which kind of kills the whole point. And're going 45 fucking miles per hour, man! I wouldn't have to back off if you'd go the damn speed limit! Gah. Anywho...I suppose that, whatever else the guy who affixes these to his truck is thinking, he probably thinks they're cool.

And, so what? I have Kiss Army stickers on my rear bumper. (Well, on the rear bumper of my car, see...not actually on my rear "bumper," if you get my drift.) There are two, and they sit on either side of the "Coexist" sticker that is spelled out in religious symbols from all over the world. And yeah, I do think the Kiss stickers are cool! And the "Coexist" is...well, it's just a good message, right? Positive...apolitical. Nice! But I wonder if people behind me are thinking "Oh, great: nice hypocrisy, man! Like, you say 'coexist,' but you have that sandwiched between advertisements for an 'army,' which connotes war!" Actually, I'm pretty certain that most people behind me wouldn't know what "connotes" means, but that's just me bein' petty and snobby now. So, yeah: I think I'm cool.

Really, really loud music blasted from you car stereo is a similar thing. Sometimes high school punks will go by on the street in front of our house, and they'll have that bass-heavy "music" thumping so loud that their whole car will sort of bulge out comically on every beat, and I'll think "You dorks! Get a fuckin' life, 'cause whatever you think that ain't cool!" But naturally I think I'm just about the bees fuckin' knees when summertime hits and I jump into my Vibe (which, despite it's sleek styling is, after all, a station wagon! - the antithesis of cool), open the windows and sunroof, and turn I Stole Your Love up to 11. Hey, I have to turn it up that loud...I need to drown out the dorky punks with their bass music, man!

Think about it: nearly every choice we make about an aspect of what we present to the world says something about what we value as "cool." Some people dramatically light their house at night. Why? Is the house afraid of the dark? Or, do the people inside want to demonstrate "Look how cool our McMansion is!" Our clothes, our hair, makeup and handbags and everything, man - every...fuckin'...thing! - says something to the effect that "I think this is it!" And by default, becomes a sort of judgement about those who do something different. Oh, you might respect those differences - maybe! - but basically, by wearing a Kiss t-shirt, I'm saying not only "I think Kiss is cool!" but also "My cool is cooler than your fact, your cool isn't cool at all, it's just fuckin' dumb, barely a step above Napoleon Dynamite and his unicorn t-shirt. Jackass!"

'Kay. That's it from me. Go be cool, y'all. (In your Kiss t-shirt, natch!)


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