Thursday, April 30, 2009

Animal Farm.... Oh, wait this was Fight Club

Fight Club is a wonderful film, probably the best film we could watch to bring this course to a close. It reminded me quite a bit of the novel Animal Farm. Mainly because slowly but surely the fight club was becoming an organization similar to the farm that Napoleon was creating in the novel. The people bleated Napoleon’s message without thinking or questioning, just performing. An example of this is when the narrator‘s, the character played by Edward Norton, friend, Robert Paulson, is killed doing work for Project Mayhem. The narrator tells everyone that his friend wasn’t just a person giving himself up for the overall cause, but that he had a name, history, and life. He was a person that deserved more respect than the work they were doing allowed him. Consequently when he says his name, Robert Paulson, the people act as though they understand the situation but really they understand nothing, and are only able to repeat what they have been told, bleating incessantly like Napoleon’s sheep.

To me the movie represented two very different things. The first point it made was that you shouldn’t let anything hold you back. Every person should be true to themselves no matter what the circumstances may be, there is no reason to live life as a group rather than as an individual. The narrator learned this lesson the hard way. His body subconsciously morphed him into the person he wanted to become in order to pursue a more fulfilling life as compared to the standard complacency his life was previously. However at the same time it also says to watch out for things that are overwhelmingly cool or popular. The fight club the narrator invents becomes too popular. His involvement in the club ultimately leads to massive problems that he created for himself. His alter ego, Tyler Durden, becomes a god-like figure to himself. The only way to overcome his predicament was to destroy his alter ego and kill the thing he had come to worship. In the end I think the narrator realized that it doesn’t matter what his life is like so long as he is happy with the way it proceeds. He doesn’t need to be hip or cool in order to have a fulfilling life. All he needed was to be happy with himself

Ultimately Fight Club deals with the idea of breaking away from the normal. Lives are not meant to be trapped. They are supposed to be concrete situations that can be altered by want or necessity of change. Edward Norton’s character effectively demonstrates how one can be unhappy with his or her life and want change. Even more importantly though he shows the stupidity of becoming sucked into some flashy trend, realizing that it is not at all what your life should be, and escaping.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Smart People are Cool Too.

Many times you’d think literacy wouldn’t be something that is described by the word cool. To be literate is to be competent in a particular subject. Normally people who are seen to be literate are considered nerds or dorks or something derogatory. However, the film Reservoir Dogs glorified literacy in a way that it could be understood. All the men that were seen in the movie were intelligent crooks. They were all criminals that had been around the block, knew what to expect, and were ideal candidates to be a part of the diamond heist. Even Mr. Orange, the cop, was literate in the attitude of being a crook. He had to practice and shape himself into that character, but he ultimately displayed that practice and the right mindset can make any undercover cop seem like a ruthless criminal. But where can we see cool literacy in places that aren’t glorified for their violence and bad behavior? The Discovery Channel!!!!

Mythbusters is one of my most favorite shows on television. What’s cooler than cracking all the hokey stories that can’t possibly be true? The kind of stories that when you hear them you have to say “No way!” or “I don’t believe that!” Well, Adam Savage and Jamie Heineman live their life doing just that. They exemplify cool literacy to the utmost extent. In order to do their job they must be trained in hundreds of aspects of science, whether it is constructing a lead balloon, throwing a penny off of the empire state building, or building a suction machine that can be used to scale walls they use physics, mechanics, and any other type of physical science to devise a failsafe plan. Although sometimes the plans don’t go quite right, and they end up resorting to methods far more barbaric to achieve the desired goal. However, at the end of the day there are not people more literate is a cooler way than Adam Savage and Jamie Heineman.

Another show that I enjoy, which involves cool literacy is The Boondocks. Although on the surface it appears to be a cartoon, when you begin to listen to the ideas and conversations that evolve throughout the show it is easy to realize that the show is truly a social satire commenting on many of the various stereotypes we place on societal groups. This is cool literacy because in order see the social commentary one must be aware of the ignorance of our society. Aaron McGruder, the developer of the show (and comic strip which the show is based upon) pokes fun at the “gangsta” stereotype in the African American culture. Generating characters such as Gangstalicious to demonstrate the ludicrous behavior and stupidity of rappers and rap culture. But he goes beyond that by bringing back Martin Luther King Jr. in one episode to truly demonstrate the stupidity that is scene in the black community.

All in all I think cool literacy may be my favorite type of cool because in order for it to work one must be educated. The subject is irrelevant. The mere fact that we have to deal with literate people is cause for celebration. More and more people feel as though literacy doesn’t matter. Why learn it because we’ll never use it. Well, I think literacy is the most important aspect of society, and it’s a crime that more people don’t think like I do.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Why are We Unique?

Hollister/Abercrombie & Fitch__________Route 66 clothing
Will Smith________________________Bruce Willis
Harry Potter______________________For Whom the Bell Tolls
The Real World____________________Growing Pains
Xbox 360________________________SNES
Avenged Sevenfold__________________Metallica
Fun____________________________Hard work

The biggest trend that can be seen from the chart is that we value things that are new and expensive. We have no respect for things that are old. Even though they may be cheap or used they still carry a significance through their previous value. The best example of this is the Harry Potter series of novels as compared to For Whom the Bell Tolls. When reading the novels they both display similar themes throughout. However, Harry Potter is new and popular so it is much more widespread than For Whom the Bell Tolls. Honestly, if I had not been assigned to read the novel in high school I would have never read it. So, it can be concluded that our society is much more materialistic than previous generations. We’ve come to expect the biggest and the best wrapped up in the prettiest packages. We are a culture of shallow and hollow people. My mom always used to tell me this sort of thing and I never really believed her, but it turns out she was right. Once something becomes the slightest bit worn and faded it loses the appeal it held.

We are also an indulgent society. We don’t value those that work hard, we put stock in people who can just get by doing the bare minimum. I know this hasn’t changed much over time, but I think it’s odd how so many people place value in having fun over working hard and succeeding. Why does it seem that success is overrated? It’s hard for me to understand that some people can be happy not being the best that they could possibly be. It almost reminds me of a form of self-mutilation. To not live up to your potential may be one of the saddest sights the world has to offer. Many of my friends from Lonoke will never live up to their potential because they don’t expect anything from themselves and would rather coast through life living up to the expectations that Lonoke has to offer, which is none.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

This week in class we watched the film Paris is Burning. It was about a bunch of trans-gender people that were obsessed with the fashion and culture that they so desperately wanted to be involved. I came to the conclusion earlier in my blog that these people are not cool. Throughout this entry I will continue to point out the failures that come with cool obsession.

One group of people that sticks out like a sore thumb in my mind is Trekkies. Trekkies, if you don’t already know, are people who are obsessed with the show Star Trek. It isn’t even so much the fact that the thing they are obsessed with is Star Trek, however when you begin to base all of your knowledge off of the idea of Star Trek then you have truly become deluded by your obsession. One of my friends at one point was deluded such as many of these people are. He was no longer thinking as he usually did, instead he focused specifically on what the character he was emulating would think and say. He, just as these people, forfeited his personality and self-consciousness to become what he had been so obsessed with. Obsession is altogether a bad thing. Whether it’s drugs, school, work, or even God. There are always things that people become obsessed with and it always ends in idiocy.

One example that we see relativity often on campus is a man I like to call “Big Sign Guy.” This guy is significant to me because he is so obsessed with the eternal salvation of every student on campus that he completely overlooks his judgmental ways. He forgets that what he should be preaching is why you should think like he does and instead points out the flaws of every single person that he sees. He tells us all to repent for the sins we have committed. He is a hypocrite on top of the fact that he is obsessed with our “eternal salvation.” In my opinion Big Sign Guy is a failure. He ignores the goodness in people and only points out flaws. He forgets that everyone makes mistakes and we all know we need to repent. His incessant yelling and screaming at those who are not right with the lord only portrays his true ignorance. He exhibits the same qualities as all the other people who become obsessed. They can no longer focus on anything except for which the thing they have become obsessed.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What was that?

This week in class we watched the film Paris is Burning. I didn’t really understand the film because of the unique perspective through which it was presented. The culture we saw in the video was so foreign to me that I was incapable of connecting with them on a human level. It almost seemed like these people were trying to seclude themselves from the reality of the world. I thought it was weird that they seemed almost incapable of living a real life. I know many gay people and none of them try to be “real,” as the video portrayed it.

The type of cool we are seeing through this film is cool obsession. My thought really is: Can obsession be cool? When people become so enamored by an idea or the thought of an idea that they do nothing to stop themselves from indulging it can be a little frightening. Unfortunately I have to say that these people do frighten me. Not because they are gay or trans-gendered but because of the emphasis they placed on the leading the lifestyle they were discussing. Not only was it so far from the norm that no normal person could relate to them, but they were also subjugated to torment because of the life they were living. You shouldn’t have to feel sympathy for a group of people as I did for them. The fact that people can look past a person to see a stereotype is disgusting. What are you going to get from life with an attitude like that? Nothing. You will just end up being a close-minded asshole. Most of the greatest people you will meet in life will be different in some way or another. However many times this difference will be a source of inspiration and encouragement. In my opinion this was not the case in this group of people.

These individuals in my opinion hurt the idea of acceptance. The idea of achieving acceptance shouldn’t be based on how well you can blend in to society, but in the case of these trans-gendered individuals it was all about how well they were able to blend. They weren’t. Consequently they were shunned. They reveled in being different. They wanted their success to be based on their differences. They failed to realize that if they were going to be successful for their differences they would also be judged by their differences. Normal trans-gendered people who didn’t have the same obsession of the ones we saw in the film would resent the eccentric behavior of them. No one wants to be biased based on the behavior of someone else and that is exactly what would be occurring. Judgment is a bad thing, but obsession is worse. Judgment at least requires logical reasoning and deduction to occur. Obsession only requires a lack of self-control.

Monday, April 13, 2009

What Happens when Things mean other Things?

Robocop wasn’t the only action story that I’d seen used to depict a satire. The two other satires that I specifically remember come from many high schools throughout the United States. Both The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, as well as Gulliver’s Travels represent something more than the actual story they are presenting. Just as Robocop warns against the events that are ruining society in the time the film took place so are these two novels.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is satirical in its attitude towards southern antebellum society. Throughout the novel Huckleberry Finn fights the moral standards which are thrust upon him by the society in which he lives. He knows his friend, Jim, is a runaway slave but he refuses to sell Jim out because he knows that deep down Jim is a wonderful person that only wants to see his family. Huck has to make the conscious decision to condemn himself for doing something that he sees as horribly wrong and more than likely the largest sin he could commit. However, upon further inspection it can be concluded that what Huck does is morally courageous and upstanding. Huck helps the reader see that it isn’t the fact that everyone else thinks an idea is right that makes it right, but the fact that in the deepest part of his soul he knows what he is doing is right. Huck Finn demonstrates that a sound heart is a surer guide than an ill-trained conscience. Just as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn criticized the antebellum south, Gulliver’s Travels focuses on the human self, and man’s inescapable need for vice.

Gulliver first travels to the kingdom of Lilliput. Lilliput is supposed to satirize King George I and his court. The feuding between the Lilliputians and the Blefuscudians is meant to represent the feuding countries of England and France, but the reason for the war – a disagreement over how to crack their eggs – is meant to satirize the absurdity and differences of the feud between Catholics and Protestants. Here, Gulliver is charged with treason and sentenced to be blinded. With the assistance of a kind friend, Gulliver escapes to Blefuscu, where he spots and retrieves an abandoned boat and sails out to be rescued by a passing ship which takes him back home. Gulliver, throughout the novel, travels to other countries just like Lilliput in the fact that there is something highly wrong with the state of the country. Ultimately Gulliver’s Travels is a play on the idea of humanity. As the novel progresses Gulliver becomes disheartened by the state of the world around him. Ultimately arriving at the home of the Houyhnhnms. These creatures are significant because they are horses that rule humans. The humans are vice-stricken creatures that are made to be chained to stop them from harming themselves in their own stupidity. Gulliver is destroyed as a person after meeting the Houyhnhnms because he can no longer look at the human race without seeing a disgusting animal incapable of self-control.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Robocop was a surprise hit for myself personally. I remember watching the movie as a child and not really liking it. This was more than likely due to all the explosions and weird mechanical monsters. However now that I’ve seen it as an older, more mature person I truly believe it is a special movie. Robocop is able to incorporate a political satire into a movie overflowing with action and excitement. To me this really seems like a hard goal to accomplish because action movies normally grab the attention of those looking for just that, action. Sometimes it is possible for action to overshadow satire. Another problem with the movie is that it is time oriented. You had to understand the context of what was occurring politically to understand the events in the movie. Consequently their initial target audience, the people who normally come to see action movies, may not be the best group to understand the satire because they are just their for the action, and not so much the satire. In Robocop they are successfully capable of incorporating satire because there is no need for consistent plot. All you really need are explosions to hold the attention and a good medium to convey the message.

Social trends in this movie are also very significant. The evils of corporations and privatization in general are largely played up by the film. The problem with privatization is that when you start to worry about making more money rather than the well-being of the public corruption occurs. This was seen all throughout our movie. The creation of Robocop was just a politically charged effort to become a larger part of a corporation. Without the corrupt individuals we saw in the movie, Robocop, would not exist. Another significant idea to the movie was that as everything turned to corporations they all lost their sense of what was good for the population. The news had turned into garbage. It was very commercialized, constantly juxtaposing serious topics, such as war with light and funny topics like the president floating in space. Just as news was commercialized T.V. has also become fake and insubstantial. The only show they depict is an idiotic comedy that repeats the same catch phrase over and over, “I’d buy that for a dollar.” Corporations were concluded to be a harsh element that only degrades societal expectations.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Escaping Your Fate, or Allowing Yourself to become Trapped....

This week in class we watched the film Saturday Night Fever. The film represented a type of cool escapism in the way the main character, Tony, played by John Travolta escaped his problems by living on the dance floor. Tony’s life was very boring throughout the week. He had a dead-end job, he had a stereotypical group of friends, and he still lived under the rules of his parents. To put it plainly throughout the week Tony was a nobody. However, every Saturday night when he hit the dance floor he became Mr. Big Shot. People revered Tony on the dance floor. This is seen when a woman he kisses at the club refers to him as Al Pacino. Tony was the boss at the disco, and he lived his life for every Saturday night. Cool escapism can still be largely seen in pop culture today.

One example of this is teenagers and music. I don’t know if I can strictly say this for everyone, but throughout the ages of 15, 16, and 17 I found my escape in music. I liked music loud, I liked music fun, I liked music all the time. I found myself always doing everything with music; homework, videogames, driving, cleaning, and pretty much any other time I could get away with wearing my headphones. I’m not sure what I found so particularly great about music. I liked everything ranging from Blink -182 to Linkin Park to AFI. Rock music set me in motion. It gave me motivation to do things. It made it easier to do things. It also gave me an excuse to ignore people, namely my parents. When my headphones were on I always had an excuse for why I didn’t answer, although many of the times I heard them just fine, but I always had an excuse. Again, I don’t strictly know if this is largely apparent in pop culture so much as it is in real life, but an example that I can specifically recall is Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. It’s really a very stereotypical adolescent love story that unites two kids through their love of music, but it’s a good example because music was so very significant to the two characters, Nick and Norah. Without their love for music they would have never been in the situation they were so as to meet.

Another example of cool escapism is far more depressing. It’s drugs!!! Drugs are always seen as a sort of escape. Although it’s far different from the two other types of escape because it begins to alter lives, it is still a good example of escape. People use drugs to forget about their problems. Drugs are just how they deal with life. When things get too heavy they can always just have an instant fix. An example of this sort of escape can be seen in the movie Knocked Up. Although the movie is not directly about the escapism drugs can embody, it is a sort of method to depict the main character, Ben Stone, and his arrival at becoming a mature adult. His girlfriend/baby’s mama, Allison Scott, helps Ben to realize that there is more to life than getting high. He sees that he now has a responsibility to take care of in his unborn child and willingly accepts the responsibility of adulthood in order to be a more well-suited father and boyfriend.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

In Defence of.... Gaming? (He can't be Serious)

Gamers are stereotypically looked down upon as social outcasts who must look to something beyond the realm of human stimulation. They are people who are no longer relevant to the real world. Gamers always catch a bad reputation because their brain functions differently from those of other people. They get caught up in something that isn’t reality in the real world, but what’s so bad about that? Women love to shop. Are they ever given the reputation that gamers are as devoid human beings? What about people who are social butterflies, always looking for the next party to fuel their addiction to human socialization? The fact of the matter is that any type of person that excessively does one thing is unhealthy. Life takes balance and gamers should only be frowned upon when they no longer function in reality and are only a part of virtual reality.

People say games are addictive. Well, to be honest games are addictive. Some games are always on your mind, but only people who have no self-control can be sucked into a pit of no social interaction. People say games end relationships, but again it only occurs in the most extreme cases. Many people who play video games do not play it as if it is their life, but when they are seen playing it they are automatically stereotyped as “that” (please watch this) guy. However, these people are just different. They find something stimulating about video games and where the games they play take them. Ultimately, they find their escape in video games. Video games to gamers are like sports to athletes. Games can be a source of conversation, something to invest time into, and a reason to become the very best at something. It’s like dancing was to Tony. It gave him a reason to look to the future. He always had Saturday night, and no one could take away his time to shine. His investment in the sport was his motivation. Gaming can be viewed in the same way. Some people don’t have a lot to look forward to in life because they have already screwed up a lot, but to condemn them further for turning to the one place where they can escape the fate they know is inevitable is like punching a pregnant woman. It’s just wrong. Sure, you can encourage them to better themselves, but ultimately no one deserves unjust judgment.

Gaming is even thought to be good in some situations. RPGs are good sources of stories for children. If you have a child that is struggling to learn to read and despises books, give him or her a video game that has text. If you read them the story to begin with eventually they will want to be able to read the story by themselves, which will drive them to want to know how to read. Gaming also improves reflexes, as well as eyesight. It was determined in a study that people who play video games can see and react up to 43% faster than people who don’t. Gaming isn’t all bad, it only becomes a problem when excess is involved, much like many other habits.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Minority of Cool

The film Shaft was an excellent example of Cool Minority. John Shaft played a hero of sorts. He was not the full-fledged hero that is generally depicted in movies that contain a hero, but he was a real hero. Shaft was the kind of person that stood up for what he knew was right. He was not afraid to bring justice, and he wasn’t going to tolerate injustice. Shaft was a man you could respect and would like to see as a hero because even though his values and morality aren’t exactly up to the highest standard, they still exist on a very real emotional level that the viewer can relate to. Hollywood has duplicated this kind of hero many times and in many ways.

The first film that brings the same Cool Minority quality with it is The Pursuit of Happyness. The film represents the same sort of aspect as Shaft just with a completely different plot. In this story we meet Chris Gardner. Chris is a salesman that has unwisely put all his eggs in one basket by investing all his family’s savings money in a more expensive version of the x-ray machine. Consequently it is selling poorly and causing problems and distress in Chris’ household. His wife eventually leaves, leaving only Chris and his young son, Christopher. I know you’re probably wondering “when does this get cool like Shaft?” Well, it really doesn’t. Chris goes through heartache after heartache, loss after loss. He does, after much suffering get a coveted intern position a at a stock broker company, but he still has to deal with tons of shit in order to reach that position. Chris is Cool Minority because even though he was knocked down time after time, even going a stint of time being homeless, he still finds the will to fight, to do something better, to pursue his happyness. He remains a wonderful father throughout making sure he does everything he can for his son, Christopher. His values always remain intact. His always the same man despite the obstacles he must overcome.

Another film that demonstrates Cool Minority is Stand and Deliver. This movie is significant to me because Jaime Escalante, a high school mathematics teacher takes a nearly impossible task and completes it very successfully. He overcomes all odds in order to teach the children of the inner city mathematics. The students that he teaches also represent cool minority because in order to complete the rigorous math program, summer classes and serious dedication were necessary. Many other students from the inner city spend their summers either working or becoming pregnant. These, students, however are exemplary in that they are willing to make the sacrifices necessary in order to be the best students and people in general that they can be.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

John Shaft > Chuck Norris

To me the film Shaft was one giant, COOL stereotype. From the way the main character, John Shaft, walked, talked, and dealt with his supposed fellow detectives to the way he laid down the law in the bedroom, it was clear that he was the embodiment of cool culture circa 1970. John Shaft was just interested in doing his jobs, and doing his jobs well. It seemed that no matter what it was, Shaft was good at it. From talking to his white detective friends and police without being a snitch to chatting up the local people, John Shaft made it look easy and made it seem cool. He also got Isaac Hayes to write him one of the most bad ass theme songs of all time.

Shaft is an interesting character because it seems as though he wants to be the good guy, but at the same time he wants to keep up a certain “I don’t give a damn” appeal. He pulls it off quite well, and that is probably one of the reasons the film was successful. It lends his character a certain duality because it allows him to be the private eye, detective John Shaft, while at the same time he is able to shove aside the stereotypical detective role and be just a really tough guy that you wouldn’t want to have pissed off at you.

Because of the middle ground shaft walks he is approached by Bumpy, a black gang leader that is looking to hire Shaft in order to retrieve his daughter from the Italian mob which has kidnapped her. He agrees to pay Shaft a significant amount of money and pay for Shaft’s hired men in order to get his daughter back. This is significant because as soon as Shaft takes on the job he has a passion to get her back. In my opinion this is his will to be good at everything taking over. Shaft transcends the abilities of normal private eyes because he is far enough into the culture that it is easy for him to maneuver around tight spots in such ways that other detectives could not. He is not afraid of the culture because to put it simply “he runs that bitch.” Shaft is the epitome is order. He controls situations and is willing to take risks. Sometimes, as seen in the movie, the risks can be painful, seeing as how Shaft did get shot. (which may have made his character even cooler) However this just proves to be further motivation for him to get back in there one more time and finish the job he started. John Shaft is a master of his own destiny. I’m pretty sure if there was a modern character Shaft could be compared to it’s Chuck Norris.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Rebels with a Cause

Throughout the film Easy Rider we were subjected to a barrage of the 1960’s counterculture lifestyle. The movie gave us insight as to how those championing the counterculture lived, as well as some of the values that they embraced during that era. More importantly though the film described the idea of rebellion. Rebellion is very significant throughout history. Many times the development of new nations are due to rebellion. Our existence as the United States of America is due to our rebellion. However, the film also showed the hate and discrimination that spawns because of rebellion in order to suppress what has come to rise against the accepted lifestyle of the moment.

One of my favorite movies that has to do with rebellion is 300. Although at first it doesn’t so much seem to be a movie about rebellion as much as a movie about conquer. The Spartans are standing against Xerxes and the Persians in order to secure their way of life, as opposed to becoming assimilated into the Persian culture as so many other groups of the time had accepted. They choose to rebel and not let their lives become controlled in spite of a magnitude of difference between their own militia of 300 Spartan warriors, as compared to a Persian army composed of well over 100,000 warriors. They demonstrated a defiance and attitude that had yet to be encountered by the others the Persians had set out to destroy. The resilience is significant because it ultimately led to a much larger army than the original 300 Spartan warriors who initiated the downfall of the Persians. By acting as a beacon to guide and magnify the intensity of their struggle the Spartans convinced others that the price of their freedom was far greater than the price of death. No matter what the cost the Spartans would not live a caged life, and it is apparent throughout the movie that with the right motivation a small group can become a large majority.

Another movie that involves a far different type of rebellion is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. This is definitely the more common type of rebellion. The high school cool guy decides to skip a day of school, and from there all hell breaks lose. However, at the end of the day everything turns out just fine. The reason Ferris is cool is because he embodies an emotion that every person has encountered at one point or another during their life. It is just inevitable that school will not always be your top priority or your favorite thing to do. Consequently, every person identifies and roots for the kid who defies the natural boundaries put forward by our daily lives in order to be free for a day, even though it’s only something as insignificant as skipping class. Although this type of cool is far less substantial than the previous example of cool because it lacks meaning and purpose, it is still significant because it’s the same sort of “damn the man” attitude just enacted on a much smaller scale.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Are You Hippie?

This week we watched the film Easy Rider. The film is significant because it places emphasis upon the idea of freedom and living your own life. In the film the two main characters are played by Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, a couple of stoners living in the 1960’s during the hippie movement. Throughout the movie we are shown the many types of freedom that come with the lifestyle that these particular wayfarers and their counterparts have come to embrace. But more importantly we see the significance of the counterculture and what was happening to it at the time.

The biggest downfall of the counterculture was due to the fact that many of the people who claimed the word counterculture were based on the archetype of the Dennis Hopper character. The people who fell under this particular mold were into the movement because it was freedom from the norm through drug use and general good times. By becoming a separate entity from conventional life they could embrace all the good times the counterculture had come to represent. The problem with this is that it left behind the ideas that the counterculture was supposed to idealize. Issues such as the state of the environment, the segregation of blacks in the south, and self expression, which were pushed to the back of the mind by drugs, sex, and rock and roll. The biggest proponent of the downfall of the movement was LSD. As demonstrated in the movie, LSD was not a good time. It led to a bad trip where not a whole lot made sense. However, it maintained popularity among the hippies ultimately frying many brains and destroying any significant chance of change the counterculture may have been able to produce.

The counterculture did have some partial positives. It taught people that it was alright to live differently. Not everyone is meant to be bound into a world that constantly repeats itself day after day. The people who represented this type of lifestyle were truly groundbreaking because they could force themselves to forego the comforts that life could offer in order to obtain something far simpler for their simple lifestyle. One of these reasons we said that the two main characters from the movie failed was because they were trying to use money from a drug deal to begin their new life. They weren’t going for the simple ideals that the culture seemed to embrace. Had they done so they would have stayed at the developing commune they encountered in the beginning of the film. However, to put in a good word for Peter Fonda’s character it looked as though he was content in that position. He knew the lifestyle that he wanted, but he let Dennis Hopper steer them away from what was right. Ultimately the two were killed because of the lifestyle that they embraced. Although the hatred was exaggerated it makes the prejudice that was placed on the group as a whole grossly apparent and disgusting.

Although I don’t embrace the idea of the counterculture, I think that if you can use drugs and still be a functional member of society then why not do it? It’s something that is fun, it’s different, and altogether it’s generally a good time, however I know from experience that no drug leaves you completely functional. Therefore when I try to sympathize with their way of thinking I find nothing but opposition.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Stuff You Really Couldn't Do Without

Last week in class we watched the film Blowin’ Up. It was significant because of the culture that was displayed throughout the film. We got a keen insight to the London culture that was occurring around this time. There are many significant examples of cool culture displayed throughout pop culture.

The first is one of my favorite movies depicting the culture of the world at one point in time, The Decline of Western Civilizations Pt. II: The Metal Years. The first is significant because it gives a deeper look into the culture of Glam Metal during the ‘80s. Touching not only on the thoughts that the fans of the music have, but also revealing the thoughts of the musicians that made the ‘80s glam metal scene what it was. One of the most revealing interviews of the film was with W.A.S.P. guitarist, Chris Holmes. During the interview Holmes describes the lifestyle he lives: Constant partying, sex and drugs whenever the he wants, and all the excess the glam metal scene had to offer. He finishes the scene by guzzling a bottle of vodka, while dumping another on his head. The interview is intense to say the least. It is the culmination of what the ‘80s metal scene had become. There was no substance to it anymore. The songs were put out only for their commercial success, not what the musicians felt. It was time for the glam movement to end because by that time there wasn’t much left. This is significant to the idea of cool culture because it documented the final breaths of the glam scene on sunset strip. For the large part after the movie was released people who previously identified with the music shied away from it in order to find something more substantial and real. Many say The Decline of Western Civilizations Pt. II: The Metal Years was the cause of the downfall. When people saw the reality behind what they supported they could no longer indulge without being disgusted by themselves.

Another example of cool culture is the film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. This film is representative of cool culture because it describes the American culture from a different perspective. Although many find the film horrendous and offensive, it is meant to be depicted that way. We see our culture everyday in the same light, however when Borat is able to pick apart our daily activities in a comical manner we should be able to laugh about it and see it differently. The final scene in Borat depicts his return home with his new bride, a prostitute named Luenell, and all the Americanization that had undergone in the village: i.e. Christianity (the Kazakh version of which includes crucifixion of Jews) and the introduction of computer-based technology, such as iPods, laptop computers and a high-definition, LCD television.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I'm glad I didn't stay 18 forever.

To me there are many places in our world that aspire to our generation’s idea of hip, cool, and the current moment. We live in that place everyday, literally. I am talking about college. I know college is a very general place in the world, but that truly is the “it” place for our generation. Many of us are convinced by the age of fourteen that we will be going to college when we graduate from high school to pursue our life’s work, to culminate our ambitions. Not only is it hip and cool to be in college now, but it is also responsible. Never before has the idea of cool coincided with the idea of responsible. To me this is very significant because it emphasizes the importance our society places upon education.

People can go to college for very different reasons in our society. For one they can go there in order to do what they are supposed to do by furthering their education and ultimately bettering their lives. This is what everyone wants us to do. We are offered scholarships to experience the magnificence of college in order to continue our country’s wealth and dominance. However, they can also go there to experience the “it” that our generation places on college. The negative side to the “it” factor that we place on college is that it conspires to represent the cool, partying side of college. Not that there is anything wrong with a good time, but it is when we begin to excessively indulge in the partying lifestyle that college has to offer that we suffer completely.

So what is college? College is life. It’s our beginning. The introduction of our experience to our world. We are here to figure out how to be adults. It is with this beginning of freedom that we can see whether or not we’re truly ready to become independent, functioning members of society. It is also friends, late nights, parties, fun times, lessons, experiences, differences, and every other thing we could wish to learn. You truly develop your personality at college, the greatest experience our society has to offer. I am truly thankful for the emphasis our society places on education because without it I’d probably be stuck in Lonoke farming.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Kind of Cool that will Always keep you coming back for more

Cool love may be the most powerful form of cool because it encompasses two very strong emotions with which the audience can identify. Love is powerful because it is passion. All the movies that you’ve ever watched that involved love probably involved a guy or girl doing something crazy or improbable in order to convince their significant other that they were the right one. Even the earliest stories such as Romeo and Juliet were about the passion that love instills. Defying family names in order to quench your heart’s desire has become all but essentially to a romantic movie. To throw cool into the mix is just ludicrous. Now, we have a powerful fiery emotion, love to combine with a cooler, more controlled emotion in cool. This is why ultimately love can be seen as one of the most powerful influences over the human mind. However, there are still many types of cool love, so I will tell you about two very different ways in which this love can be displayed.

My favorite type of cool love is the romantic comedy. I know it doesn’t have the same suspense or drama that normal love stories convey, but they speak to me because they are much more relatable. It’s easy to see the goofy, awkward guy walk into love and get the girl, or at least it is for me because maybe deep down I hope that this will happen to myself someday. But the movie that I’m most directly speaking about is 50 First Dates. The reason this movie, to me, conveys the ideal romantic comedy is because of the type of situation it presents. In the movie Henry Roth (Adam Sandler) loves Lucy Whitmore (Drew Barrymore) so much that he is able to make something as life-altering as amnesia, which resets her memory everyday, and help her live her life to the fullest degree of happiness. To me this is significant because it represents Henry’s dedication to Lucy. He doesn’t care if she doesn’t remember him because that just gives him another chance to win her over. This is romance to the extreme. He chooses someone that can’t even remember his name, but there is something about Lucy’s personality that speaks to his soul. Making the option of finding someone else all but impossible. Henry is admirable for all his characteristics. The fact that he could love a single person so much makes the movie great in itself, but the fact that he is cool and dorky makes even greater.

The second type of cool love is demonstrated by the man with the plan, Han Solo. Han Solo’s love for Princess Leia is far different from the love seen by a romantic comedy. Their love spawns from a class difference. Han sees Leia as something that is unattainable just because of their differences. Leia, on the other hand, views Han as a pig. He is all about being cool, and acting debonair, which ultimately lures her into Han’s fatal trap. Everyone knows the scene I’m talking about when Han is being taken away and Leia confesses her love for him. He then proceeds to utter the coolest line a man could possible articulate in the situation, “I know.” Although many women may be disgusted with Han’s words he will forever be remembered as a badass because he not only won over the girl, but he got the girl to come to him. A far different approach from the dedication seen in the romantic comedy, Han uses a bad boy attitude to attract Leia. As you can see there are many different forms of cool love. Love is not objective, it comes in many forms, patterns, and styles. It will always be there. It will always be cool.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Personality That Kills... Seriously, You Better Run!

The film Jules and Jim was a roundabout film that ultimately aided in my disgust of women that act like whores. To me the biggest problem with the film was Catherine. The reason Catherine was such a horrible character was because she played every guy she (I honestly don’t know what to call it. I hope to God it wasn’t loved) liked. First she met Jules. Jules suited her fancy for a little while because she enjoyed his innocence. They married and had a child, but all the while Catherine was unfaithful to Jules as punishment for things he had done that are beyond the scope of sane human understanding. Although, I won’t entirely lay the blame on Catherine. Jules was a moron to stay with her after the treatment he had received. Catherine further irritates me, though, when Jim comes back from the war.

Jules and Jim both think there is something magnificent about Catherine besides from her “serene smile.” The way she lives, the exuberance in which she finds life is the most important magnetism to her personality. The almost child-like bliss she conveys from something as simple as running along a bridge, these are the little things that greatly affect Jules’ and Jim’s desire for Catherine. But with this shining world mentality also comes ignorance and a certain lack in character that we find in Catherine. She is not as most normal adults who are willing to forgive and make up. Catherine feels as though she needs to justify anything that she finds not fair or unacceptable when it comes to her male counterparts. Now, this is just stupid. Whoever heard of cheating on a guy for writing a letter about ending relationships? Of course, I don’t understand why Jim would go back to sleep with Gilberte one more time, but what about Jules? What did he do to warrant the treatment he was dealt? He seemed like a perfectly nice guy. You don’t commit to someone in marriage and then turn your back on that vow just because time has gone by. Catherine is a very simple person.

She is basically a child that has an adult‘s body. All that matters to her is herself. She has no regard for the feelings of others, which is why it is so easy for her to act the way she does. That is also why I think she killed Jim. Once he rejected her, and she was no longer “Queen Catherine,” she became unsatisfied. That’s why she pulled the “hey I’m pregnant come see our baby” to try and get him back. She didn’t love Jules or Jim or even Albert for that matter she just wanted their undivided attention. Women like Catherine make me sick. Men like Jules, Jim, and Albert also make me sick. They feed the flames of the fire that she has set on their souls. Consequently I knew from the moment they were all riding their bikes on the road together that their death was imminent. Someone had to die in order to end the cycle of betrayal. To me it was the best ending the movie could have afforded the viewer. However, Jim was an idiot for getting in the car with that psycho.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Darker is Always Cooler.

When I think of Cool Darkness two pop culture references specifically come to my mind. The first is the movie Donnie Darko, and the second is pure, unadulterated, evil, Metal!!! The two pop culture influences are particularly influential to me because they represent something more than what the surface attempts to depict. The delve into the darker portion of the human psyche to inspire those who are willing to think beyond the lighter more innocent side of life.

Donnie Darko represents Cool Darkness. Throughout the movie Donnie wrestles with the idea of the validity of life. To me this is cool because he didn’t accept the social standard that was thrust upon him to accept what is assumed to be called right. However, in order to achieve the cool that Donnie achieved he had to venture into the darkness of our world questioning the ideas of everyone else in order to find the true answer. This brings significant darkness to Donnie’s character because he is portrayed as a troubled youth in the beginning. Add to it the fact that he sees a personified bunny suit that talks to him in his dreams further reinforces the idea the questioning of his mental stability. Eventually after searching for quite a while Donnie finds his answer to the truth. With his answer to the truth he is his able to sacrifice himself for the well-being of his family. Donnie Darko is cool because he found his truth at the opposition of every other person. He defied them all to reach beyond the scope of their reality to find the truth, and he ultimately died with his truth in order to save everyone else.

Metal music is also a wonderful source of Cool Darkness. The reason metal is looked down upon as dark is because it has always been synonymous with the Devil because of the dark roots of the music. The black attire, the metal and chains, the lyrical interpretation, all point to demonic or dark thoughts. However, many people have come to escape the societal stereotypes of the music in order to truly enjoy what they have found. To me metal is about loud guitars, extreme vocals, and drummers that can absolutely blow your mind. To break it down into simpler terms the musicians that play metal are the best of the best. They play bigger, louder, faster, and harder than anyone else to inspire to others the way that they feel inside. As music is designed to be it helps people connect on a primeval level. The basic instinct of human nature that inspires our bodies to sway and follow the rhythm lends to the metal following. It helps people to understand that there are other people out there who feel just like they do. Whether or not it truly makes you a part of something more than just being a listener is debatable, but the fact that it does make you feel that way is what has made metal so successful on a large scale. Metal helps kids find common ground. Ultimately it is this common ground that makes metal as cool and as dark as it truly is.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Cost of Life is Death

This week we watched the film noir Double Indemnity. Normally this is the part where I go through and find things I liked about the movie, however this week I must say that I didn’t like much about the movie. The reason the film didn’t suit my tastes is that everyone had to be dirty. There were no characters with sound morals or unbroken integrity. Consequently the entire movie was one downer after another.

The main character of the film is Walter Neff. Neff seems like your average run of the mill salesman. He is very charismatic, easy to talk to, and not the ugliest guy you’ve ever seen. However, when me makes a routine visit to renew an auto insurance policy he bites off more than he can chew when he meets Phyllis Dietrichson. Dietrichson draws Neff into her plan to take out an insurance policy on her husband, Mr. Dietrichson, and ultimately kill him to collect the insurance money. Dietrichson, in my opinion, is a good character, but only because she pulls off the idea of the femme fatale. She uses Neff by using her own sexuality to draw him into a web of destruction that for some reason Neff seems to glorify. Neff knows it’s not a good plan because of men like his boss, Barton Keyes. Keyes is basically the only character in the story with any sense of right and wrong, however I think even his judgment is skewed because of his love for money. With the distorted views the characters bring to the table the fates of Neff and Dietrichson could be concluded as soon as Keyes was introduced. Neff knew the plan was futile. He was trying to cheat death in a sense, but he failed.

So, what is cool about this film? I can’t really tell. Am I supposed to take pleasure in the seedy underbelly of our world? Am I supposed to bask in the glory of betrayal and corruption? I can’t. To me these are attributes that are looked down upon, not glorified. If there was a caption at the beginning of Public Enemy why wasn’t there a caption at the beginning of this? At least at the end of that film it seemed as though the main character had realized what he had done was wrong, and had come to terms with himself. However in this film he doesn’t even show remorse. He betrayed his friend/boss, killed the woman he thought that loved him, and ended up dead. To me, the end is all but fitting to conclude the broken tale of a man that could have been more, but chose a life that was so much less.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Can I Do That? Why Yes. Yes, You Can

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If cool is based upon the idea of imitating those you revere then imitation must be the coolest of the forms of cool…? Well, I don’t really know, but I hope to have a better idea by the time I finish writing this entry. To me it always seemed that people who imitated others were people who couldn’t think for themselves, however as I’ve gotten older I’ve found that it is truly impossible to be original. With so many different people and so many different ideas you are bound to be thinking the same thought or idea as another person thought at some point throughout our existence. So, I guess imitation is a really cool form of cool. Imitation forces us to display our idea of cool in the midst of every other person, no matter what that person thinks of our imitation. We wear our values on our sleeves forcing others to see and accept us everyday no matter what they think.

The coolest form of pop culture to spawn from imitation is Rock ‘n Roll. Music is cool on many different levels. It is cool because it inspires creativity in those who listen to it. It serves as an outlet for people to express their feelings. But above all music is cool because it causes people to imitate it. Every band you’ve ever listened to has had influences whether it’s Queen, Bon Jovi, Lynyrd Skynyrd, or any other type of music you could contemplate. Consequently music is cyclical. One generation of music influences the next, and the trend continues to flow. An example of this is the band Coheed and Cambria. Many of their influences spawn from classic rock such as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Police, and Iron Maiden. Although the band sounds altogether completely different from these influences they still have a base in this sort of music because it is what inspired them to make their mark in the music industry. To take that mark even further many of my friends in Lonoke were inspired to learn to play the guitar after they heard Coheed and Cambria’s “Welcome Home.” As you can see musical imitation is a cycle. Every generation throws in their little differences and in the end we get fantastic music.

Another example of Imitation in pop culture is reality television. To me, this is not nearly as cool as music, but it still deserves to be mentioned. The earliest form of reality television was The Real World. From there reality television has grown out of control as shows like Survivor, American Idol, The Bachelor, and many others worthy of mention have come to dominate the weeknight television lineups. These shows have become so popular that more people vote for the winner of American Idol than those who vote in the presidential election. It’s really hard for me to believe that all those shows had their metaphorical seed planted when The Real World aired May 21, 1992. Try as I might, though, I can not disregard these shows. Although they do not acquiesce to my liking I can respect the fact that the majority of Americans find them enthralling.

Things have been being imitated since the beginning of time. Many times it is due to a good idea, however sometimes this imitation is the cause of a reaction in each and every one of us when we find something undeniably, fantastically, awesome. Cool is cool for just that reason it makes us feel like we're awesome. Things and ideas will always be cool it's just a matter of how we feel and what we like. Our individuality is the source of these thoughts and inspires us to find meaning in life.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I am Joel Wright.... 's Friend

The person who guides me in my incessant quest for cool is my ex-A.P. U.S. History teacher, Joel Wright. Joel Wright has shaped the person I have become today. He gave me a great friend ,who understood what I was going through as a teenager in Lonoke, AR. As everyone knows it is very easy for kids to be lead astray by things such as peer pressure, social acceptance, and even sometimes just plain boredom. Being from Lonoke I was subject to all three of these commonalities. During my freshman and sophomore years in high school I very much indulged in the temptations presented by these three factors in my life. Doing everything from drinking and smoking to skipping school for no reason. Consequently, I was becoming a person I didn’t know. Someone I had nothing in common with at all. My idea of fun was not being unaware of the physical world around me, however many of my fellow peers felt that this particular type of unaware was relief, and even today many of them still do. Fortunately, Joel found me before I had completely forgotten myself.

Joel came to Lonoke High School in my junior year. For the first few weeks of class I referred to him (outside of class, of course) as the douche bag with a speech impediment. However, as I began to get to know Joel I realized how awesomely, ridiculously cool he was. He epitomized everything I, the old Logan, wanted. I began hanging out with him everyday at lunch. Where we would sit in his classroom and talk about everything we could think of from politics to philosophy to my lifestyle. It disturbed him to see the duality to my personality. The outstanding student in the classroom as compared to the typical stoner outside of class. He asked me the most important question of my life while sitting in that room, and to this day is still one of the most important questions I’ve ever been asked, “Why do you choose to do that?” I had no answer for him. I did not know why. There was no logic to my behavior, and I was ashamed to realize that I was just trying to fit the social schematics of Lonoke. Joel wasn’t a stiff. He isn’t against having fun, or doing things you shouldn’t, but he didn’t want to see me ruin myself because of the attitude of every other kid in Lonoke. I listen to Joel over all other people because he is my friend, my idol. I hope that someday I am able to impact someone with as much magnitude as he had upon my life. I hear Joel everyday. He is my decision. I am a version of him. I am based upon the archetype of Joel Wright, and I have no qualms with that observation.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Light Sacrifice

Sacrifice is a recurring theme throughout the world of pop culture. To use the element of sacrifice is to play off the emotions of your audience. By making the main character make some sort of sacrifice, the audience can marvel at the character’s grandeur, which ultimately makes the character that much more real or important. Many times these books, movies, television series, or even comics become largely successful due to the character’s placement of values, which normally involve the placing the well-being of others before the well-being of yourself. The character who I watched make sacrifices for some ten wonderful years is Harry Potter.

Harry Potter is the epitome of the cool sacrifice. Born to fight an epic villain, Voldemort, where every true fan knows the prophecy that states, “either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives.” (sorry about the whole Creed thing, very inappropriate.) Harry Potter’s fate is marked to him the moment Voldemort attempts to kill him as a baby. From then on he is marked to be Voldemort’s equal. He is the cursed child, fated to die at the hands of Voldemort. Lacking the power and magical ability that Voldemort has accumulated for himself over his lifetime, Harry is always viewed upon as fighting a losing battle. Constantly losing his friends and family to a magical war that can only be solved by fulfilling his destiny , as the reader knows it to be, his and Voldemort’s death. As the series comes to a close the reader sees Harry accept his fate as death. However, it is Harry’s acceptance of what he knows he must do as compared to Voldemort’s defiance of mortality that separates the protagonist from the antagonist. Harry accepts his fate by sacrificing himself for the betterment of the world. Harry Potter is a true hero. Sacrificing himself to end the pain of others, he is the coolest idea of sacrifice I have witnessed in my twenty years of life.

Another character that demonstrates cool sacrifice is Bruce Willis in his role in Armageddon. Bruce Willis plays the character Harry Stamper, the best oil driller in existence. Willis and his crew are put on board with trained astronauts in order to ensure that the asteroid is destroyed properly. After fast-paced space training Willis and his crew are launched into space. While in space a series of events that were originally planned for the crew go awry, and it seems as though the crew will be sacrificed in order to detonate the bomb on the asteroid. Fortunately though, fellow astronauts that Willis thought originally to be dead survived what seemed to be an impossible crash. Once again though, the crew is defied by the asteroid when previous conditions for detonation have changed and it seems that someone must stay behind in order to destroy the asteroid. Willis ultimately sacrifices himself, even though chance chose someone else. He sacrificed himself for his daughter, for his country, and for the sake of the group. Willis made making a decision that put him in a far from favorable place seem as though it was the least important part of the trip. He was more interested in the well-being of the others than in himself. By making the decision he did he saved the world, and emphasized the importance of sacrificing yourself for the betterment of the world.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

To me, the film evoked sympathy for the main character, Rick Blaine. In the beginning, he demonstrates that he only looks out for his own self-interests by letting Ugarte go to jail after he tries in vain to buddy up to Rick. Later, he contradicts his original sentiment helping the man and wife win money in order to get their letters of transit to travel to the United States. To me this is significant to Rick’s character because he tries to play the tough guy, however his image is thwarted when a situation that involves honesty and truth presents itself. Ugarte represented neither of these traits being a murdering thief who tried manipulating Rick to gain his support. Another example of his selfless activity occurred before the movie took place. By describing Rick’s involvement in running guns to Ethiopia, as well as fighting on the nationalist side of the Spanish Civil War the viewer gets a better picture of Rick’s true personality and where his faith lies. Rick is definitely a romantic.
Rick’s romanticism becomes a key element to the plot when his old flame, Ilsa Lund and her husband Rick Laszlo arrive at Blaine’s bar in Casablanca. Tension rises when Ilsa asks the piano man, Sam to play her and Rick’s old song from France. More importantly though, her arrival brings about a transformation in Rick. He is no longer the neutral player we had seen before. He has become a man that feels, someone who knows true love and has lost it. It always strikes me to see a man cry. Especially when the man is someone who is as iron as Rick. A man that hides himself behind a mask of concrete to keep his feelings walled inside himself. To see him release was to witness his transformation. After he let down his wall to realize that love is something special that comes as quickly as it goes he began to become a better person. A person who can empathize with others. Someone who sees a situation for more than its affect on oneself, and more so its affect on the entirety of the situation. To me this is what allows him to ultimately let Ilsa leave. To do something better for someone you love is to be noble. He put himself aside to deal with his predicament in the correct manner. Sometimes it takes sorrow to create a better, more-ordered end. Rick is immortalized as a badass through the movie because of his ability to overcome what he has lost, as well as his willingness to let go of what he could have had. He is a character worthy of my respect and emulation. Rick Blaine is truly cool.

Monday, February 2, 2009

I'd be a Gangster.

This week in class the film we watched was The Public Enemy. The film surprised me because it contained many of the same elements that any typical viewer would expect from a modern film from the particular gangster genre. I hate to say it, but just about every gangster movie I’ve ever seen has been based off the archetype of that movie. I find this disturbing because I don’t expect any creative variety. The story lines are slightly different, but they follow the general action of the movie to a tee. The nobody crony catches a break that takes him into a higher stratosphere of criminals, until eventually he finds a way to transcend those he works with to make it to the top. Once that particular character reaches the top there is some sort of epic tragedy, and his rise is followed by his immediate fall. Take Scarface, for example. Al Pacino was a poor immigrant that rose up through the ranks of the drug trafficking enterprise to become rich beyond all measure. What’s cool about that? He’s a deplorable human being with terrible morals who makes awful judgment calls, but he’s still cool because we’re drawn to the glitz and glamour of the lifestyle he personifies. Even now people still like to emulate Tony Montana because he was a badass.Characters like Al Pacino are never destined for success because there is always someone just as ambitious as they were yearning for the chance to reach the top.

There are many references to this movie that could be made such as Scarface, The American Gangster, and even Boyz n the Hood. However, what I find relates most to this movie is the Grand Theft Auto series of videogames. The reason this identifies so well with the particular genre of movie is that it is based off the same mafia/gang mentality that the movie is trying to portray. My favorite game in the series would have to be Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The reason this is my favorite is that it gave me a look at the gang side of gangsters. In this game you take on the role of C. J. Johnson. A young African American who has been recruited by his brother for the neighborhood gang. Slowly C. J. works through all the middle men, eventually killing off most of them, to arrive at the top as ruler of the city. The reason this game was so popular was because it encompassed a type of cool most middle-class white children had never seen before. Not only was it a forbidden kind of culture, but it was looked down upon. Peddling drugs, killing cops, and fighting rival gangs was not the type of influence parents wanted their kids to have, but after playing this game my eyes were open to the reality of the world. The world didn’t only exist in Lonoke, AR, but it was vastly different everywhere. What I was conformed to was a type of small town life, that after playing this game, seemed very much mediocre. Although, I didn’t hop on the bandwagon and start selling drugs and shooting hookers I did learn that there is much to experience. My little part of the world was just that, little and insignificant.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cool Is

Cool is indefinable. Cool is completely subjective, therefore giving it much room to transform and evolve. Everyone has a different idea of cool because they have different points of view, different interests, and different experiences. All these differences among us ultimately lead to many kinds of cool. It’s amazing how when we see something we enjoy or something we think is worthy of imitation we immediately think “wow, I really wish I could do that.” So, what is cool?

Cool to me are video games. Yes, I’m a nerd. I love video games. Not all games to me are cool, but I can give most of them a fighting chance. My favorite two games would have to be the Rock Band series and Halo 3. These games are especially cool to me because by the wonderful invention of internet, games have become competitive. It’s no longer about having fun, but more about who has the most skill. Video games to me are a true release. When I’m playing a game there is nothing to do but play the game, think about the game, and become the game. The stress of the world is gone when I begin playing because I can give that game my complete attention. Now, don’t judge me because I spend my free time playing video games. It is merely a hobby that I enjoy. The reason why I’m particularly drawn to the competitive side of gaming is because I was diagnosed with a heart condition when I was 12. Growing up with this heart condition I was not allowed to play sports. Consequently all the guy vs. guy rivalry, “I’m better than you are” type of thing was eliminated from my life. So, what could I do? I found my competitive side playing video games, always attempting to be the best. Whether it was football, racing, baseball, fighting, or even more recent games such as Guitar Hero, I wanted to win. Video games hold more than just a nerdy type of cool to me.

Video games also encompass a nostalgic sort of cool. Memories of sitting in the living room with my dad at the age of 4 watching him play Super Mario World asking him “when is it my turn, dad?” More importantly though the day when he finally taught me how to play. I remember him taking my hands and putting the controller there telling me how the different buttons on the control allowed Mario to do different things, slowly leading me through the George Foreman’s K.O. Boxing game, and showing me how to shoot monsters in RoboCop. Games hold a deeper meaning for me than for most people. They give me a form of stress relief in their competition, as well as their holding a deeper meaning to my past. I couldn’t imagine myself without having some sort of videogame background. I would be incomplete.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The comedic medical series, Scrubs is one of the few television sitcoms I can enjoy. Anymore it seems as though sitcoms are out to portray reality to viewers who are part of that very same reality. What enjoyment can be achieved through watching the same drama that you experience day in and day out? Specific examples of television that I can’t stand to watch are The Real World, The Hills, Survivor, and all other examples of television that are out to pit people against each other. I despise these shows because I get to see the worst in people everyday. The depressing dog eat dog reality of our world. Competition is rampant among the world’s competitors, and the last thing I want to do when I watch television is see that type of behavior glorified. Thankfully, people like John Dorian and Chris Turk, from Scrubs, can re-instill my previous faith in the world.

John Dorian (or J.D.) displays a quirky sort of nerdy, cult cool. His can-do attitude and vigilant persistence develop a character to be respected, as well as revered. He deals with the same problems any other person faces but the manner in which his character responds to the situation is that of an innocent child. His naivety lends him the quirkiness that incorporates his specific type of cool. Chris Turk, plays Dorian’s nerdy counterpart. Chris Turk is special to the pair because he is the typical sort of “jock” cool. However, he is different from most jocks in that he would never abandon his buddy, J.D. He tries his hardest to keep J.D. feeling as though he is part of the crowd even though his dorky, awkwardness keeps him from completely relating to Turk’s jock-like, surgical buddies. Although separately the doctors are special in their own way, it is when they are brought together that you can truly appreciate the pair.

Turk and J.D., to me, are significant because they display more than just one type of cool. Sure, they both have their nerdy/jock-like personalities, but deep down their cool is bound within their friendship. I honestly can’t find a descriptive word to fit the relationship the two friends have with each other, but I think the most suitable term would be committed cool. Their support and honesty with each other is a characteristic strong enough to spawn jealousy in those who do not have this type of bond with a significant friend. Every time I watch the show and see the bond between J.D. and Turk I am reminded of the goodness the world has to offer. Scrubs helps me feel better about myself, as well as those around me. Many things in this world display goodness. However, Turk and J.D.’s friendship is a priceless type of awesome one can only hope to find in his or her lifetime.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Week 1, Blog 1: The Idea of Cool

This week in class we discussed different types of cool. The types of cool we discussed ranged a spectrum of diversity. Beginning with the slave's type of necessary cool and spanning all the way to modern-day musical influences on cool; such as glam metal and grunge rock. More importantly, though, we discovered themes of cool. Each specific type of cool had a different background leading to a different importance. Every type of cool ever seen has been cool because it stood for a cause. Whether the cause was the hippies “everything is cool” attitude or the punks “damn the establishment” ideals, each attitude came from a conviction that people had in common. Consequently, people were relating to these different types of cool helping them to find their niche. All types of cool have had a significant influence on society and modern culture.

By introducing different types of cool we have also introduced different types of attitudes in society. The slaves depicted the art of ironic detachment. By making their unfortunate societal position seem as though it was insignificant they were able to focus on the brighter side of life. This type of attitude can still be seen today by many unsatisfied students at school. They display the same type of disregard for their authority, although for a far different reason than the slaves, to seem as though they are unaffected by something that is only trying to help them. Another attitude that has introduced itself into society is the passionate attitude that comes from the transcendent type of cool. An example of the transcendent type of cool that we can see in society is the popular television series, House. Gregory House, the star of the medical drama, parallels the transcendent type of cool because he is always willing to push boundaries in order to solve a case. In this particular episode he defies the court, lawyers, and even a patient's personal doctor in order to figure out the patient's illness. By doing so he effectually solves the patients paralysis, as well as his muscle-deteriorating disease. He, because of his passion to solve medical problems, was able to go beyond the personal doctor’s scope of intelligence to give his patient the life he deserved. Cool deserves to be defined and studied carefully in order to better understand its affects on the world.

The course makes me think about the origins of cool. What is it that makes something cool? In my opinion, cool is a form of respect that we pay to something that seems worthy of emulation. Consequently, cool becomes a generality among society, and as cool becomes more and more generalized we begin to lose the respect that we once held for the idea that made it seem worthy of mimicry. Whatever the purpose of cool, I hope to find it’s true meaning by the end of this semester.