When I think of the word “cool“, I think of Miles Davis. But I don’t know many people with even a microgram of that coolness today. Vox examined the idea of coolness and whether it means the same thing now as it did in the 20th century:
In America, we have had 30 Under 30 lists, award shows, and an industry of so-called tastemakers for the same reason: to tell us who or what is objectively important and worthy of our attention and money, hierarchizing the tastes of full-grown adults. But now the “status-symbolic power” of cool that used to facilitate snobbery — as Carl Wilson, the author of Let’s Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Bad Taste, calls it — is in dwindling supply because of the internet’s democratization of ideas. The great American cool is nearly dead, slipping out of the grasp of Gen Z, who seem too busy being themselves to care.
[…] Where Gen X and millennials were rolled into one category — the NPR tote bag and/or band T-shirt-wearing “hipster” — Gen Z has identified infinite, disparate, and chaotic combinations of tastes and consumer choices, mining from a limitless array of niche subcultures and milieus. Their eclecticism is more far-reaching and complicated than ’90s or 2000s young people, even more omnivorous, so it’s harder for corporate executives to market a one-size-fits-all youth culture to, or for so-called cool hunters to narc on them. As Naomi Klein writes in her seminal work, No Logo, cool hunters were a new industry, born in the ’90s, that promised “to cool the companies from the outside in.” “The major corporate cool consultancies — Sputnik, The L Report, Bureau de Style — were all founded between 1994 and 1996, just in time to present themselves as the brands’ personal cool shoppers,” she writes. “The idea was simple: they would search out pockets of cutting-edge lifestyle, capture them on videotape and return to clients like Reebok, Absolut Vodka, and Levi’s with such bold pronouncements as ‘Monks are cool.’”
What’s cool now, won’t be in the future unless people bring it back to be cool again. It’s all subjective but we all knew that already. The important thing is whether you think that ‘thing’ is cool and whether you actually enjoy it for what it is and what it gives you rather than its appeal to fairweather individuals. But I like to think the coolness of Miles Davis is eternal. It is to me anyway.