April 3, 2014 by Welcome to the Jungle
What is cool?
Coolness is largely decided by the mediator that controls the media. It is also highly influenced by the consumers of the media. When the marketers and employers of ideologies and values say that something is the current status of cool, the message always has a chance to flop entirely. It is up to the reaction of the people to absorb and accept the behaviour or trend as a thing that is cool.
In itself, cool is a relaxed and convenient slang term that never goes out of style. It can define anything from an attitude to an appearance. An article showing Superman looking intense and suave with a brand name pair of sunglasses featuring many swooning scantily clad females in the background may suggest that wearing the advertized type of sunglasses makes you 17% cooler. However, the ad would also promote the ideology of needing to have the physique and jaw line of Superman in order to achieve the cool status. It also mildly states that females should be scantily clad in order to swoon effectively.
However, if a culture or a counterculture decides thoroughly that the typical Superman jaw line and muscled build is not a desired appearance, then the advertisement may not do so well in the marketing scheme. It may not have as much effect as another ad. If masculinity in a specific cultural setting is defined more as lean muscle and passivity rather than ripped bulk and aggressiveness, then perhaps advertising a different superhero would be a smarter move. Switching it up from Superman to Captain America, however, wouldn’t be the best battle plan advertisers for the sunglasses in their dire need of promotion. Anyway…
In theory, the human species isn’t a mass of blind moving zombies addicted to looking cool and acting cool. Just kidding. In essence, that’s pretty much most of society. Being the CEO of a company is a cool job. Being the basement janitor is considerably less glamorous. However, amongst janitorial staffing nationwide, that particular individual is seen as an inspiration and a motivator, a blessing to the world of cleanliness, while still maintaining a humble attitude, caring for their family and loved ones. The magazine featured CEO could be a total scumbag, and still most would choose to pursue the high class employment career path. At some point perhaps the entirety of the world decided that you can forget about morality as long as your wallet is fat and your waist isn’t.
Somehow I doubt that media creators have full control over what the norms are and what people behave as. Sure, they influence everything, and people are sometimes blind enough to just go along with all the stuff they see advertised to them, but human beings still have full control of their own actions. At least, they do supposedly. Portraying something in a desirable way sends a message to the viewers. If they choose to let this alter their behaviour, they adhere to the depiction of coolness sent out by the media. They say that ads are a reflection of what cool may be considered to be for the time period they were featured in, but it may be the time period that reflects the ads. It’s actually probably both that affect each other.