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On "cool"

 
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Rexfelum



Joined: 26 Sep 2003
Posts: 3897

PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 9:01 pm    Post subject: On "cool" Reply with quote

Really, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at this development. But I still have to wonder what will come next.

In the first place, consider how bizarre it is that Americans think organized crime is "cool." I once saw a TV show, a fiction, where one of the characters was thrilled and awestruck to hear that someone else had witnessed an authentic "whack." That was the first time I'd ever heard the word "whack" used to describe a gangster killing, and I thought it was a stupid choice of word. I still do. Years later I heard a radio show, a totally real one, where the host was discussing a person who wrote a book on some organized crime group, including describing the "hit car" they used to do their killings. The host then spoke in an excited tone about how, when the crime group killed the author, "they used the hit car!!" "The Godfather" is loved. Looking like a mafia hitman is "cool." John Gotti . . . how much respect flowed out at his funeral? The man was a murderer, and yet the organized commission of violence is considered "cool."

In the next place, consider the changing attitudes toward sexuality that have been in evidence over the generations. Going to the beach dressed in what we would now consider formal clothes used to be considered standard, and sex education wasn't exactly a popular topic. "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was quite a hit for the Beatles. Then, when I was an undergrad in college, my roommate kept listening to "Sex on the Beach." I probably don't have to go into any more detail on how sexuality is more publicly accepted these days than it used to be.

Criminals are cool. And sexuality is edging more and more into the mainstream. So really, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised to see that prostitution is now cool. Sure, back in the day when organized crime was seriously taking over, they handled prostitution as well. But I'm going to wager that (ahem) "be a prostitution supervisor towards 'my ride'" wouldn't have flown as public entertainment back during Prohibition. That language (spanning the realm of functionality from noun to verb to adjective) is now used for a cool thing to do, a cool type of fashion, or basically a synonym for "cool" itself.

When you consider that questioning religion is also considered "cool," we've got pretty much every repulsive or sinful act covered. But if everything we have ever been told to be taboo . . . is PUBLICLY ACCEPTED to be COOL, what are we going to do now? What will come next? We don't have any more barriers to break.

. . .

Oh, no. Bodily waste hasn't been publicly accepted as "cool" yet.

--Rexfelum
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Mooshou



Joined: 20 Jan 2004
Posts: 3672
Location: Ici. Voila. C'est tout.

PostPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2009 10:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really hope poop doesn't become cool.. cause, uh yeah.. that's disgusting.


But fart jokes are ok.
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Infinite Blue, Quack M.D.



Joined: 09 Mar 2006
Posts: 888
Location: Bleh! :D

PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This! Argh!
I agree with this SO MUCH!

It also irks me how quickly people are to say "I love you" nowadays, particularly teenagers. They just toss it around. My stepsister, for example -- don't get me wrong, she's a sweet girl -- but I caught her saying "I love you" to her boyfriend within a few days of getting together. Ugggh. This bothers me SO much. INFATUATION =/= LOVE. LEARN FROM ROMEO AND JULIET, PLEASE. Impulsive, hormonally-based relationships have a tendency to end in disaster. And sometimes poisoning and stabbing.

Love doesn't just come with the role of boyfriend/girlfriend. It's like trust; tt has to be built. It has to be earned. And once you say it, there's nothing more for you to give them, as far as words go. If you "drop the golden grenade" so easily, and so frequently, it loses its meaning.

Just... argh.
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Rexfelum



Joined: 26 Sep 2003
Posts: 3897

PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

. . .

I have something like 50 or 60 of these "essays" in a folder on my hard drive, next to things that I copied from other goers of this forum. In recent months/years, I have posted them into silence. I've been mostly fine with that, really, as the thoughts I'm expressing are ones that I'd express anyway--to friends within earshot, say--and so it's good to get them into words.

Then today, you replied to an essay of mine, and . . .



(Exaggerated for dramatic effect.)

Anyway, Infinite Blue: I hear what you're saying, but my first reaction is to think that it's not "on-topic" with the themes I was trying to express. Perhaps it is simply that I never listened too closely to the sorts of language being used in all those relationships around me in high school and college.

But then again, I think it's a matter of scale: what I saw around me in high school wasn't so much some individual details that bothered me, as an entire approach to relationships that just seemed wrong. The brevity that you mentioned, yes, and shallowness, but also some sort of bizarre feeling of inevitability: "Oh, yeah, the cheerleader has a new boyfriend." I was soured to the very use of the words "girlfriend" and "boyfriend" by how they almost seemed like terms of abuse, where someone's identity would forever be "Oh, yeah, he brought his girlfriend today."

The expression of "I love you" in such circumstances, I imagine, could very well rise to the type of frustration you describe. However, I think that shallow relationships are something that has bothered people for a very long time, and doesn't really represent a tide in human affairs.

--Rexfelum
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Emperor Xan



Joined: 18 Mar 2003
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Part of the problem is that technology has helped people collapse concepts faster than ever before. The ease at which they have access to information without effort has lead the generations that have only known a world where the Internet exists to grow lazy in thought and deed. The conveniences that the tools have given us have been taken as the way the world should operate and looking for things on one's own is not a virtue, but a sign of the "ignorance" of the technologically-challenged. In short, we have become anachronisms to the younger set before hitting middle age. With the speed of machines nowadays, it's difficult to imagine that tequila and handguns allow humans to make mistakes faster than machines.
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Communist_Spy



Joined: 20 Aug 2002
Posts: 1908
Location: Tally, for now.

PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sexuality inching into mainstream isn't anything new. Marvell has his share of brilliant poems designed to get into a love interest's pants that are no less brilliant for it. That whole period was a reactionary to the suppressed lifestyles that came before. It can be said that what we're witnessing is the same movement, to the same stuffiness about sexuality of the mid-20th century.

Xan is absolutely right, though. The problem is in how it's seeped into our culture. It's in Hardee's commercials! You hear it on the songs kids rush to buy! Sexually charged literature seems tame by comparison.

My issue isn't the presence of sexuality, it's in the way it's used. Consumption: Lady Liberty's middle name. The more sexuality is used to sell products, the more it becomes a product to sell itself. The Hardee's commercial mentioned earlier: the hamburger takes up about 1/25th of the screen; the model's legs, nearly half. Selling the sex, and oh, yeah, buy a burger.
As I see it, prostitution isn't the horrific dead-end we'll get to. Worse, we'll reach a point where sex is so objectified that we can't connect to another person on an emotional level, the way I can't pillow-talk and stroke the hair of a Hardee's burger. I'll see a body I want to fuck and I'll go for it. Cum and run.
Consumption: if I'm satisfied with what I have, why would I continue to buy?

Rexy wrote:
"I Want to Hold Your Hand" was quite a hit for the Beatles


So was Norwegian Wood. The Fab Four had their role to play in mass-popularizing sexuality, too.

Rexy wrote:
When you consider that questioning religion is also considered "cool," we've got pretty much every repulsive or sinful act covered. But if everything we have ever been told to be taboo . . . is PUBLICLY ACCEPTED to be COOL, what are we going to do now? What will come next? We don't have any more barriers to break.


I'm suppressing the part of me that feels like there's an inference that atheism is a fad.
A story: A kid I knew from high school was into hippie rock, was into peace, was into groovy, man. He didn't smoke pot or anything. He had global ideas. In 2008, during the election, people around him who used to be conservatives began sporting "Yes We Can" stickers. Not slowly -- suddenly -- this kid spammed Bible quotes on his Facebook. He took an interest in fiscal conservatism. He thought Ayn Rand's objectivism isn't bat-shit crazy or a truckload of crap or any other fecal representation. He thought it quite "cool."
Moral: There will always be those who seek to place themselves into some minority (though it's usually not a minority) to feel like they are walking the fringe, because in their head, or because of James Dean, this seems to them "cool."


Where we go from here is inward, to the only thing that ever mattered, in any age or period, to a sense of self, bolstered by belief or disbelief, to the last immutable conviction that asserts, "This is me. This is where I will not budge."
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Rexfelum



Joined: 26 Sep 2003
Posts: 3897

PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yet again, the Commie is eloquent. Some replies:

Communist_Spy wrote:
Worse, we'll reach a point where sex is so objectified that we can't connect to another person on an emotional level, the way I can't pillow-talk and stroke the hair of a Hardee's burger.

. . .

Consumption: if I'm satisfied with what I have, why would I continue to buy?

These are some of the best bits of phrasing I've heard for this issue. I think I can say that, yes, objectification was a heckuva lot of what bothered me with how people threw around "boyfriends" and "girlfriends" in high school--throwing around both the words, and the "romantic interests" themselves.

. . . Okay, I have to stop for a moment. Can you believe that my dictation software automatically recognizes "heckuva" when I say it?

Commie wrote:
The Fab Four had their role to play in mass-popularizing sexuality, too.

And can you believe that I had never heard of that song before? Regardless, I'm not denying the role of "sexy" people like Elvis Presley, I'm merely trying to grab examples.

Commie, again, wrote:
I'm suppressing the part of me that feels like there's an inference that atheism is a fad.

Oh, keep on suppressing it. That throwaway line was, in fact, a throwaway line. I put it in because my initial draft talked about "sins" without it, and I could already hear people shouting at me for not even mentioning religion.

--Rexfelum
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Communist_Spy



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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 1:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thinking over this again.

If the marketeers use sexuality for producing a fervor for mass consumption, why do we, the consumers, fall for it in the first place? And what about the mafia Rex mentioned initially that I failed to even bring up?

To boil it down: power. That's what this is about. To escape the congealing pool of bottom-rung consumerism, we light up at the sight of something that makes us feel better than someone else.
The mafia's appeal is in the fear it produces, the fear underlying the respect. Nobody wants to get whacked, after all. The image of the untouchable, be it Gotti or Capone, is the ultimate image of power.
Sexuality, too. Why do scores of women flock to the skimpiest clothing only to be eye candy for men? There's something empowering about the feeling of being wanted. Wanting is weak, passive. The wanted are in control.

So power is what is "cool" because coolness itself is about subjecting others, thus, the need for the uncool.
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Emperor Xan



Joined: 18 Mar 2003
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the issue of sexuality as a tool for consumerism, it's pretty easy to explain, albeit a bit crude.

The stupid lust for flesh; and the more pleasing the flesh, the more the body takes over as endorphins flood the brain.

Humans are highly sexual beings. We're one of the few species on the planet that has sex for more than procreation. We're the only species that seeks more inventive ways to turn our private affairs into a spectacle, even if it's only for an audience of two.

Sexual desire renders nearly anyone stupid. Once the brain floods with those happy chemicals, logic disappears. The need to reproduce is so hardwired that most of us could be reduced to the most mindless of playthings if that function to make the attempt cannot be fulfilled.
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Make...something?

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Rexfelum



Joined: 26 Sep 2003
Posts: 3897

PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 7:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ooh, Commie has done a nice job of integrating things in with the "power" topic. That sounds pretty darn good.

I just have one automatic aversion to that bit: there are people who reduce EVERYTHING to power, no matter how inappropriate or insulting it seems. Sure, sure, there are tons of self-fulfilling prophecies in the world, such as conspiracy theories where you reduce EVERYTHING to the corrupting influence of Judaism/rock and roll/the meat industry/communists (choose appropriate), but the "power is everything" argument is one that actually has a number of scientific supporters.

Believers in this particular conspiracy theory (oops, I meant idea) will argue that any human relationship, such as a romantic relationship, is fundamentally based on having power over each other. This annoys me. Yes, it is good that people recognize power exists, but it's offensive to have someone just whip out the key word "power" to explain anything, noble or ill. It's like how Freud just put anything he wanted into the "subconscious" and people could never logically prove him wrong.

I'm not saying you are wrong to bring up power. I'm merely saying that it can't be brought up as a copout answer without consideration of other factors.

--Rexfelum
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ravin_13



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2010 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The previous poster is not cool (just in case the post gets deleted, it is spam, not our good "Cool" friend Rex (I will try to always write "cool" in quotations for no reason at all, but I believe that I will forget about it in 2.1337 days ))
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Rexfelum



Joined: 26 Sep 2003
Posts: 3897

PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2010 7:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sigh.

Ya could have just let it die, ravin_13. (Die! Die, spam! Die!) I would have deleted it soon enough. But no, you had to post a response and keep the thread up here. Now what are we going to do?

Oh, well. The periodic bumping of threads provides a little amusement.

--Rexfelum
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Darius



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The effects on are your sanity are questionable though.


I wonder if that's "cool?"
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