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Essay – What is Cool

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    What is Cool

    There are many definition of cool. The meaning of the word depends on the user and the circumstance. There are many areas in life that the word cool can be applied in. Examples of the application of the word is “cool” air, or a teenager who wants to be cool in class. There are several definitions of this word and this would be discussed thoroughly in this paper.

    The Scientific Meaning

                Matter has always been a topic in science. The different characteristics of matter is being studied at school. One of the characteristics of matter is its temperature. When we were younger, temperature is defined as hot or cold. Now if we are experiencing hot weather then we say that the “Air is hot” on the other hand, if we are at the beach, we usually say that there is a “cool” breeze at the seashore. This means that the air in the beach area is a bit cold. Another is that the temperature of the air is very comfortable to the skin.

    The Word Cool for teenagers

                Teen age culture is really hard to understand. Teenagers view the word as the popular guys in school. These are the cheerleaders, the basketball players, the football players and other popular guys. As stated by Fenichel (2006) in his article, he stated that teenagers looked to other teens for what is “cool”. When kids are growing old, they are trying to establish their personalities. For example, kids would imitate the cool people to be in. At times they may end up trying to hard or at times being laughed at by the others. Teenagers give labels to the people in school. Fenichel (2006) had identified that teenagers would like to look cool to the right group of friends. Everything is important to teenagers. For them coolness means having the right attitude, the right clothes and the right friends. In the movie, “She’s All That” starring Rachel Leigh Cook and Freddy Prince, the embodiment of coolness can be seen in Freddy Prince because he is the most popular guy in school. A bet was placed on whether Freddy Prince can make Rachel the Prom Queen. As expected in the story, Rachel became a contender for Prom Queen. Teen culture is really hard to understand, there are also teenagers who think that taking drugs is cool or smoking cigarettes are cool. The comments in the article of Fenichel (2006) showed that there are several definitions of coolness for teenagers. This just shows that the meaning of the word cool is really hard to understand.

    Evolution of the Word Cool

                Mick LaSalle (2007), tried to explain the evolution of coolness from the movies that he had watched, to the singer and artists. He stated that the concept of cool changes however, it still stays the same. Jeff Rice (2002) had also defined cool in several different meanings. He had also shown the concept changes of being cool. Jeff Rice (2006) identified that the word cool is a revolutionary force in the history of cultural and technological production. During the 80’s, having a big radio radio on your shoulder is cool. Nowadays, if people would see this, they would think that the person is crazy. In the 90’s, having a walkman became cool, this became the craze back then. Now, the concept of the gadget cool can be seen in IPods or Mini Mp3 Players. Another example is the Hollywood concept of being cool. In the 1960’s, imitating the hair cuts of Elvis Presley and the Beatles is cool, this had become out-fashioned, another concept of coolness can then be seen in the styles ofMichael Jackson, MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice and the like and then this became out-fashioned, the concept of coolness ended in the fashion of the Hollywood stars such as  Orlando Bloom and Cameron Diaz. As Jeff Rice noted the meaning of the word “became remote, the opposite of mass”. The word cool morphed into a gadget, car, a person or party. Meaning that the concept of being cool like the things stated above is available to few but coveted by many.

    Different meanings of Coolness in Genders

                According to Mick LaSalle (2007), coolness differs between the two genders. For females, being cool means being attractive to men and being by your own self. Examples cited by La Salle (2007) are Gina Gershon, Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Katharine Hepburn.  However, the definition of coolness differs from that of the ladies. Male cool is much more fragile and complicated to define. Coolness for males means the balancing between the act of not caring but at the same time caring very much. Women coolness is simply escaping the tyranny of male judgement. However, male coolness depends on females. A man is attractive if the female gender says it so. This determines the coolness of males. The evolution of the representation of coolness in males is shown by La Sale (2007) in his article. From Louis Armstrong in the 1920’s, to James Cagney, then Elvis Presley and it eventually ended with George Clooney and other Hollywood Stars. I agree with the Mick LaSalle that coolness will change when the qualities needed for survival changes.

    Concept of Coolness in the present

                People use the term cool in different things. Some use the word cool in the internet. Examples of such are the cool websites or cool gadgets available in the market, or cool jobs in the workplace. People consider a website cool if there are features in the website that people are really interested in. Cool Gadgets are defined as the coveted things by the whole population such as the newly released Nintendo WII, the Xbox 360 and the Playstation III in the gaming industry. In the world of computers having the newly  released Quadro Core Computers and newly released laptops by Sony and HP are really cool. Having a cool job means that having a high-paying job and at the same time having the time to relax in the weekends.


                As a conclusion, the concept of coolness really does depend on how an individual uses the word cool. Things maybe cool to others who really appreciate it and it may not be considered cool to others. Things such as smoking cigarettes for teenagers, some consider this as a very cool activity because by doing so they look like a grown-up. However to athletic types, they don’t consider smoking as cool because they know that this would affect their performance as an athlete. For rockers, they may consider Papa Roach or Linkin Park as cool but to some who loves classical music, they consider these bands as the epitome of evil music. Perception is a very complicated thing and each individual has their own sides in the different things in the world. Individuality differentiates the meaning of the word coolness from other people. I may say that I am cool but some people may not think so. People are often confused by this word but in reality, coolness is really hard to define.


    Rice, J. 2002, ‘What is Cool? Notes on Intellectualism, Popular Culture, and Writing’, 10 May, [Online], Available at

    Fenichel, M. 2006.,’ What is “Cool”? (What’s Hot? What’s Not?)’ , Hearst Communication Inc, [Online], Available at

    LaSalle, M., 2007,’ How the concept of cool changes … and stays the same’,12 August, [Online], Available at 2007/08/12/PKT8R9JLI.DTL&type=printable

    ‘The Conspiracy of Cool’, Yale Daily News Publishing  Company Inc., [Online], Avaiable at

    Bragg, S., 2005, ‘What is cool? It’s definitely not chill‘ 16 September, [Online], Available at


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