MSNBC & LL Cool J Present: The Story of Cool


MSNBC presents a three-episode documentary, The Story of Cool, over the next three Sundays (starting on July 1). I show up in the first episode to tell the origin story. LL Cool J exec-produces and his presence connects icons of cool such as Ice Cube and Shepard Fairey with CEOs and cultural critics. The trailer hits some good keynotes: cool as "the perfect balance between substance and style," cool as "authenticity." American cool is a vernacular tradition of rebellion so let's finally reject the ahistorical analysis of Thomas Frank and Malcolm Gladwell -- cultural critics for whom cool is only a consumer process. Selling cool may work for the early adolescence set (say, 11-16) but during the crucible of self-creation -- between 17-25  -- no one really believes buying something makes you cool.