An Infinite Regression of Cool


September 7, 2008 by korshi

Me and my friend Mansha were in a cafe listening to the Strokes and discussing the pros and cons of their various albums.  The third member of our coffee troup, Manoj, hadn’t even heard of The Strokes, and thought we were a pair of little trendsters for being able to discuss them so thoroughly.  

Alas, unless you’re like Manoj you’ll know that the Strokes might have been pretty edgy five years ago, but nowadays everyone and their mother has Last Nite sitting on their Itunes.  Along with my Pokemon T-Shirt, this set us to thinking about all the differently nuanced posings of cool that the modern world and detached irony together permit us to assume:

Level 1 Is basic coolness, which is basically lame.  This is Beyonce, Australian (or whichever is your local version of) Idol, Top 40 music, heels, make-up and pink T-Shirts on guys.

Level 2 Is edgier, deliberately going for things that are a little bit more obscure, where Juno from the film of the same name might fit in.  Skinny jeans, big sunglasses, messy hair, 70s Punk, all the post-Strokes new York hipster bands, maybe some electro.

Level 3 is where the fun comes in, because at this level you’re so cool that you realise that all the things in Level 1 are lame, but love them anyway, with some degree of detachment.  For those wishing to reach this level, you might want to begin by listening to some mainstream hip hop (perhaps Jay-Z for beginners, Eminem for those looking for a challenge) while drawing your friends’ attentions to the amusingly misogynistic lyrics.  

Level 4 Is even more specialised, but I have met some souls capable of pulling it off.  You realise that all the “alternative” choices involved in Level 2 are just as mainstream as chart-topping R’n’B but assume an ironic hipster pose, secretly aware of how cliched even your friends are.

Level 5 and Up Are only hypothetical, but extrapolating from the earlier levels, we can assume that Level 5 involves ironically listening to pop music in an ironic way.  

All of which is just an excuse for me to link to the genuinely (Level 6+) cool website of Ari Versluis.  Called Exactitudes it’s a photographic series showing subcultures in action; In major cities all across the world he finds people all, unconsciously, dressed in variations on a theme, and juxtasoses them in a way that’s humorous and revealing.  See if you can find your own subculture!


One thought on “An Infinite Regression of Cool

  1. Surly says:

    You wanna know wass cool? Going to Vulgaria.

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