“YOU’RE JUST 2 COOL 2 BE TRUE, CAN’T TAKE MY EYES OFF OF YOU”
These promotional pictures from the 1980s and 1990s represent the brief peak moment of the ever-elusive white-man-cool emerging in the 1950s. A pop cultural phenomenon that has by now disappeared or been replaced by
Cool— detachment, kool, non-chalance, self-possession, freshness. You gotta possess yourself before you can possess others, right? In black culture, “cool” is tied to suffering. It’s acknowledging injustice in a non-affective way. Transferred to white(y) culture, cool becomes “post-consumerist boredom,” it’s a serene state of self-awareness. The “post-Madonna” coolest band ever, Ciccone Youth (Sonic Youth’s offshoot project), had all of these things in mind for sure when they titled their Madonna tribute “The Whitey Album.”
At a time when it’s OK to have a webcam shot as a publicity photo, these old-school PR pictures come across as ceremonial, but ceremonialism is exactly what we want from our gods, our pop culture revolutionaries— Iggy Pop borrowed this pose from Robespierre, Boy George is Marat in the bathtub, Talking Heads dressed in black as the new Beatniks…
Do you remember the time when bands
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