Martha Thomases: Whatever It Is, She’s Against It
When Brooklyn Nine Nine won the Golden Globe for best television comedy on Sunday, my first thought was, “That’s the end of that.”
I mean, I love the show. I thought the episode that came after the Globes on Tuesday was really funny (although I don’t want to see any romances develop within the department. None. At All. Ever.).
But now I know that other people like it. It’s not cool anymore.
You may ask yourself, “Why does a woman who is 60 years old care about what is cool?” And you would be right. I have long held the belief that no one can be cool once he or she has children (exception that proves the rule: David Bowie). My colleague, Mike Gold, disagrees, telling me that his daughter’s friends think he is. I suspect they do think he’s cool – for a parent.
There is something ridiculously satisfying about being the one of the only people who likes something. It’s a secret that you share with only a favored few. I have felt the way about Peter Bagge, back when John Holmstrom first published him. Once he started working with Fantagraphics, I still liked his work, but felt let down that I had to share him.
Comics fans are especially bad about this, in my experience. I can remember several times when I would go to a comic book store, select my choices (mostly superhero comics) and go to the cashier, only to have him (always a him) tell me I had terrible taste and shouldn’t shop in that store. This never happened to me at any other place I shopped, not even at Pat Field which, before Sex and the City, was far too cool for me.
And so, I can only conclude that comic book fans are more rigid in their idea of exclusivity than even the fashion police. It’s almost enough for me to enjoy some schadenfreude about comics fans being squeezed out of the San Diego Comic-Con, except that I am one of them.
Speaking of which, if one wants to continue to enjoy one’s super-cool object of joy, one should hope it catches on enough to become uncool. Yeah, Firefly was awesome and I want to be a brown-coat until I die, but what I’d really like are more episodes which we would have had if the ratings were higher.
Which brings us to a useful definition, found in this article. Key quote: “The great video blogger Ze Frank once said, ‘Being cool is about not participating in traditionally enjoyable experiences and creating the illusion that happiness can be found in alternative, less enjoyable experiences. The degree to which other people around you try to emulate your alternative lifestyle and fail determines how cool you are. You’re only as cool as people wish they were.’
“‘Cool people starve themselves, get neck tattoos and listen to bands the rest of us have never heard of. These things are not fun, and they are not popular, and that is exactly the point.”
Coolness is not something one can achieve by trying for it. I was never cool, because I was always too enthusiastic about my pleasures. That’s okay, I’d rather have joy than admiration or envy.
Personally, I question how much longer tattoos can be cool. Eventually, people’s mothers will have them.
REVISED COLUMN SCHEDULE FOR THIS WEEK:
LATER TODAY: Michael Davis
SATURDAY: Back to our normal schedule with Marc Alan Fishman!
The Wife loves Brooklyn Nine Nine – it’s a joy listening to her watch it in the next room while I’m watching SHIELD.
her worry is that people will find out she likes it, and cancel it, a strange practice that had happened to every comic she’s liked as far back as Daniel Clowes’ Lloyd Llewellyn.
I agree with you, Martha.
If I have to choose between being happy and being cool, I much prefer to be happy.
But I also finally discovered that being cool is like some buddhist stuff: you become so much cooler once you stop trying so hard to be cool.
But I asure you, if I have some cooler aspects, like listening to strange bands, it’s only because I do have a genuine love of discovery and trying new stuff. It’s not because I try consciously to be some sort of rebel.