From Bogart to Brando and Dean -- The Cool Podcast


How is it that Bogart and Robert Mitchum and Barbara Stanwyck are cool and yet so are their opposite numbers, Marlon Brando, James Dean, and Elvis? I discuss this key aspect of my Cool book on Mark Lynch's podcast, Inquiry, on WCIN. The short answer: these icons spoke to different generations. Bogart, Mitchum and Stanwyck were exemplars of surviving with dignity and style -- of existential cool -- and represented the generation that grew up in the Great Depression and fought WW2. For those too young to fight and for the youngest Boomers, Brando, Dean and Elvis embodied an edgy, eroticized badboy masculinity that subverted the monolithic image of the good father from 50s sitcoms, organization men, and that great daddy-o, POTUS Dwight Eisenhower. They were rebels for adolescents (at first), representing the hollow middle of an affluent consumer society. And that's what made Jim Stark here (on the right) "tick ... *like a bomb.*"