New prologue July 22, 2017
My graduation day marked a huge milestone in its own right but what came as more of an accomplishment was when a highly acclaimed fashion guru whom I’d long been intimidated by called me ~cool.~ (this is the part where you and I laugh in unison). She didn’t say it matter of factly either, she actually turned to the person to my right after she complimented my shoes (she thought they were Mansur Gavriel lolol more like Jeffrey Campbell bish) and affirmed her sentiments by stating rather than asking: “she’s cool, right.” The whole thing struck me as extremely absurd when all I kept thinking of was telling her, “You know I’m a complete weirdo right”?” (Cue my imposter syndrome.) I wished there was milk somewhere in the vicinity so I could dramatically spit it out along with my pride. Instead I giggled nervously like I usually do when I’m *speechless* (rare occasion), and carried on with my day. Reading this conversation I had with a few friends years ago when I cared more about what people thought than I led on to believe, I can finally understand what I, we, were trying to say. It brings me back to a conversation I had with *someone when I was in the throes of a particular identity crisis when I felt like I never really explored my full identity because I was hung up on what people thought about me and what my expectations were.
What that *someone told me via FB msg Jan. 2016. The 'it' referred to my blog and the 'dumb people' referred to dumb people making negative comments to my face about said blog.
What she said echos what I think my 20 year old self was trying to impart: “Own who you are, and people will like you for it.” One of my guy friends told me last week an insecurity he has when he approaches girls and I was like, 'no keep doing what you’re doing because I think it’s awesome and who would you be if you didn’t do that?' 'And hopefully one day a girl like me will appreciate the weirdness that is you.' I guess what I’m trying to say is we’re all weird in some way, and as long as we own it and live for us and the way we want that’s pretty cool.
BA: I know I always bring up Man Repeller but Leandra actually wrote a post on what it means to be cool, and I thought it was so funny how she kept referring to herself as not cool.
SN: They love the self deprecating humor
BA: Right. I mean I have a lot to say about the word cool, since I was thinking about Man Repeller’s piece before I came here. Cool is something we concern ourselves with from a young age. I remember I went to magen david elementary and I left because of the “cool kids.” There was a definite and clear cut social hierarchy that defined you as either part of the “popular” crew, or you not, and if you weren’t then you were striving to be apart of it.
FS: Its like that in every school, and continues long after school is over with. Who are the cool kids? The answer is different wherever you went to school.
BA: Yeah, I mean I went to flatbush high school but I know the difference… In Magen elementary you were cool if boys liked you or if you fit a certain mold.
SN: And if a boy liked you in Flatbush no one would bat an eyelash? Oh please, elementary can’t be apart of this discussion since elementary standards of cool are just that--elementary. They are also standard to any school. Also none of us can speak for Magen, since none of us went there for high school.
FS: Right. Even if you didn’t go to Magen though, its still clear that Flatbush kids value different things than Magen kids.
SN: And Hillel kids. Beyond High School differences though, Brooklyn and Deal and even city kids are different. The differences grow more apparent in high school. These differences play major roles in defining the Deal kids versus Brooklyn kids stereotypes.
FS: In Flatbush you would look at someone like @%$^# and say she was cool.
SN: Why was she cool?
FS: Because she went out with %$#@.
SN: Thats interesting, so you can be cool because of who you date. You can also have a weird friend or crush on a weird kid you might be embarrassed of, to the point of keeping that private or dropping that person altogether. When I was younger a boy and I liked each other but I was considered a weird girl for my grade and so when people found out we liked each other, to recover his pride and reputation he “dumped” me. It was so sad, but you can also be cool by association- with friends or romantic interests.
BA: I always crushed on the nerdy but cool underrated types. I have a history of having a thing for the unconventional smart quirky types. What’s cool versus weird though? In Flatbush if you were weird, you were cool. If you read the whole Harry Potter series you were automatically cool going into Freshman year you automatically had friends. Unfortunately for me, I was a Twilight fan.
SN: That’s how I would define cool now, if you are weird-cool. I think I have always thought weirder people were sort of cool but I’ve only become more embracing of that as I grew older and more independent in thought. Culturally as well though, hipsters- the eclectic few- have always risen as the cool kids either in or after high school.
FS: That was the premise of 21 Jump Street
SN: Shutup film major
FS: KK. As I was saying though, Channing tatum was the cool guy in high school and then he goes back and faces that what used to be cool isn’t anymore. Suddenly Jonah Hill is the cool one of the two, even though when he was in high school he was a nerd. Nerdy became trendy, and being cool means wearing two backpack straps on now, which goes back to what you were saying about hipsters.
SN: Did cool really change? The kids who everyone says were so weird in high school, like --- and ---- are really the coolest kids now. They’re the ones doing interesting things in their lives and people are interested in interesting things- not what your hair or your makeup looks like for a wedding. Two hundred likes on instagram, but people aren’t genuinely interested. If cool by that definition is what interests people then it can change over time, but is there some overarching idea of “cool” that transcends the fluctuation of trends? Because I don’t think being cool or being trendy is the same thing. Take $%^&@ for example, she is so cool but I wouldn’t call her trendy. Have you ever seen her spotify? I cant get into even one playlist and I think, kudos to her for being into this, but I am so not. She does her own thing, and transcends the trends.
BA: But everyone knows she’s cool.
FS: But she’s the biggest weirdo in the world!
SN: Thats why she’s so cool! She’s obscure.
What is the difference between weird and weird-cool?
BA: You can’t define it
FS: I think it’s that weird-cool, like being hipster, is pretentious. Take film and photography for example. Who gives you the right to do that, and show off when you do it?
SN: I disagree, I think its the opposite. Participating in what is popular is pretentious, because who gives you the right to wear ripped jeans, let’s say, just like everyone else wears ripped jeans, and feel entitled to being “cool” for doing it? Weird cool is you actually are cool, you aren’t striving for it- most of the time you don’t even know it. When it comes to art it depends what you do with it. Maybe I’m pretentious for starting my own instagram, I don’t think that makes me cool though. Look at Joey though. He taught me so much about photography. You and him talk about film all the time too, but what does he do with it? Many people don’t know that he’s as talented and cool as he is because he doesn’t show it off.
BA: %^@#$ too- We were talking about her work, dance, and art, and she was telling me how in high school she stood out for it- in a weird way. But she’s so accomplished, and does such cool things, that maybe she’s weird-cool.
SN: You know why it changes when you’re older? When you’re younger and less focused on the important things in life, as you can be when you’re older as well, then you are focused on looks, money and superficial things, that fade as trends do. When you’re older, however, you realize what’s substantial in life and what isn’t. Now, if you accomplish cool things, or approach life embracing your individuality, I think that’s the coolest thing. Like --- uses disposable cameras and I think its the coolest because she’s not going around posting a million wedding selfies.
BA: So being cool is going against the social norms and what is deemed acceptable
FS: Swimming against the tide is cool
SN: Like we said about hipsters, whatever the mainstream says, the opposite is cool.
FS: The counterculture is always cooler. Punk rock was cool in J-Crew land of the 80’s.
Reflecting on who the cool girls in my grade were in high school, though, and what they do everyday now, I don’t think they’re cool anymore. They go for lunch, work out, and shop in Bloomingdales. Would I want to do that now? No.
SN: Stars where are they now… its funny because when you look back at the peak of you considering them cool you thought, ugh they ditch school and get to go to the city I wish I could do that. If you look at a girl who does the same thing in college, now, you’d look at her and say that’s sad youre throwing away your education and life, how stupid.
BA: I also think people put too much effort into how they look and not enough in terms of their characteristics and how they act
SN: Be cool for yourself… its like those second, private, instagrams that we have, Frieda.
FS: I love my second instagram
SN: It’s more like your third though…
FS: or fourth
SN: @%&#’s instagram is so cool. She doesn’t put anything serious on it. It’s the stupidest shit but its cool.
BA: I love the underrated people
SN: I hate when underrated people become overrated
FS: Like Cara for you
BA: People try to emulate others so they can be apart of that cool too, but by shaping yourself into that cool, your’e cutting away parts of yourself. Straying away from who you are in trying to conform is weird. Those girls, do they have anything else going for themselves besides looking good? Is their confidence for nothing?
FS: Fake it till you make it.
SN: It’s not even that those girls are trying to be cool in an original or hipster sense, but they’re trying to present themselves as the perfect bachelorettes for a husband; pretty and cool, Amy Dunne from Gone Girl style. In the movie she says, “Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.” That is what I think those girls are striving for. Amy Dunne makes another brilliant point then, “Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl.” I think those girls set themselves and other girls in the community up for these expectations and ultimately competition to be that “cool girl.” All of these conversations overlap really, because this goes back to our last conversation on “image.”
BA: My Jew-fro was never able to commit to the normalcy of straight hair and because different is cool now i’ve come to embrace my mediterranean roots. On a different note, TV shows really reflect popular culture and the shows nowadays show the quirky girls that are cool in this against the grain concept- like Hannah in Girls or Ilana and Abby from Broad City or Zoey Deschanel from New Girl. Cool used to be conforming to culture and now its going against popular culture, and its weird because at the same time still you want to be pretty and popular. Given that opportunity, few would turn it down.
SN: Because you want to be likeable. You don’t want to be standoffish, pretentious or asshole, thinking you’re too cool for anyone. At the same time you don’t want to conform to any stereotypes, so its the balance of creating yourself so that you don’t compromise your individuality that makes you who you are- cool. When you stray absurdly far from the invisible boundary of community norms thats what makes you weird-weird. Maximizing your self expression within those boundaries is the coolest, and this accounts for different opinions of what is cool. All the cool kids follow the necessary evil rules of the community. Just as the title suggests, they are necessary, and if you disregard the necessary rules of what is expected of community members, then you will lack the very fundamental of being a community member.
BA: It’s funny because being a “typical SY” is looked down upon. Being typical in general is looked down upon. It’s in our millenial nature to strive to be different. We want to reinvent the wheel. The trajectory of millenial culture is shifting toward rebellion and breaking conformity.
SN: What it means to be “typical SY” is really to be the ideal SY. The typical money, looks and an equally embracing significant other. There are those who have the resources to be this poster-child but choose not exploit them for this purpose. I think those kids are so cool. Like in Gossip Girl, Nate is the cooliest because he’s got everything his friends do, but material isn’t enough for him. Nate needs meaningfulness. I’m actually more of a Chuck girl but that’s why I think he’s cool anyway, because I personally value the intangible cool.
BA: Cause all the cool kids, they seem to fit in.