the paradoxical turd blossom of cool/suck

Cool is a chimera. It has no permanent shape. Paradoxically, the moment you’ve gotten a hold of it cool begins changing shape into something which you do not grasp. More accurately, cool is always changing. You can’t possess it as a static thing, the best you can hope for is to grab onto it for a moment as it passes; if you’re lucky you can keep grabbing on in different places. The people and things that we believe to be cool are usually not really cool yet. When I think of cool in this way, it becomes something intangible.

The very people who define something as cool, so effectively that others believe them, start thinking that thing sucks relatively soon after others begin embracing  their idea. Certainly by the time that Target has an isle full of scraper bikes, the kids were so enthusiastic about them will start doing something different and calling it something else.

It’s kind of a sad reality that the people who originally define things as cool, don’t generally profit from their ideas; in the end they loose what they’ve created to corporate reverse-engineering. For example: when Wal-mart is selling mesh-back hats with the bills ripped off and identical frayed threads, the kids who first ripped the bills from their trucker caps will reject their very own originality.

This is a representation of how something progresses from being lame to being cool and then back to sucking. Of course it's important to note that these values are through the eyes of the population at large. Like the idea of the unknown, the idea of cool is to big/complex to fully understand, that's why we have this graph and religion. You may be thinking, "Silas 'Cool' is so awesome, truly breathtaking, that it's impossible to capture it's essence with a graph, and a two dimentional one at that

This is a representation of how something progresses from being lame to being cool and then back to sucking. Of course it's important to note that these values are through the eyes of the population at large. Like the idea of the unknown, the idea of cool is to big/complex to fully understand, that's why we have this graph and religion. You may be thinking, "Silas 'Cool' is so awesome, truly breathtaking, that it's impossible to capture it's essence with a graph, and a two dimensional one at that!" And you're right, that's why there will be more graphs and behavior modification... I promise you that I'm going to make you the person you've always wanted to be.

In the graph above the white bell curve represents how cool something is considered to be by the general population; the colors are for the people who don’t understand graphs; and the numbers are the beginning of a system that will allow us to rate the coolness of something with a single number (eventually it will be a number with one decimal place = 4.3 for scraper bikes or 6.7 for calling things ‘Boss’ however the decimal system is still on the drawing board, literally).

This is our first attempt at the numerical rating system, so it’s definitely going to change with fine tuning. Below is the first attempt at descriptifying what the numbers signify:

At the value of 1: (virtually) nobody thinks it’s cool / idea doesn’t exist

At the value of 2: a small’ish group of trendsetters create or redefine component

At the value of 3: the idea or object is adopted by a broader but still somewhat elite group.

At the value of 4: the object or idea is known of by a large part of the population / awareness extends beyond the originating demographic

At the value of 5: The object is mass produced and available at retail outlets that serve the originating demographic; this is the crux of the biscuit, so to speak

At the value of 6: the object is mass-produced and available at retail outlets serving demographics who’s bowels the idea did not emerge from

At the value of 7: The object is discounted at retail outlets and available at low-end retail outlets / it is still mass produced but from lower quality materials.

At the value of 8: object/trend has no stylish appeal and has faded into the abyss of being a standard option or has lost so much popularity that even discount retailers have abandon it, only available at thrift stores

At the value of 9: object my still be embraced by a small group of collectors or fetishists

At the value of 0:  component sucks (lather, rinse, repeat)

Much like Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ “five stages or grief”, a thing doesn’t have to pass through all of the stages of cool sequentially; something doesn’t even have to hit every stage in any order. Basically these are just the possible stations of cool/suck.

That is all for now.

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Published in: on February 7, 2009 at 9:22 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Marketing is poison for “2” people, but essential for “5” sheeple. Are “2” people inadvertently playing the marketers’ game?

  2. […] in the awkward phase where fanny packs are at the same time really uncool and really cool. It’s that crazy paradox that I was talking about last year: Something becomes cool and then more and more people start doing it… next thing you know […]


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