Cool Or Lukewarm?: “American Cool” At The National Portrait Gallery

681 words - 3 pages

Confusion. Frustration. Outrage. These are just some of the emotions felt when walking through the “American Cool” exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery. Firstly, the exhibit attempts to define the words. Such an act can cause personal conflict as cool is subjective; one’s personal definition may conflict with that of the exhibit. According to “American Cool”, “to be cool means to exude the aura of something new and uncontainable. Cool is the opposite of innocence or virtue. Someone cool has a charismatic edge and a dark side. Cool is an earned form of individuality” ( The criteria for an individual’s consideration in “American Cool” was possession of the following: an ...view middle of the document... Often playing seductive older women, she fulfills the opposite of innocence or virtue and has a charismatic edge and a dark side requirements of cool, however she falls short of being new and uncontainable. Albeit successful, Susan Sarandon has not brought anything new to American culture, she has just obtained success in an already established field.
After walking through the entire exhibit, it becomes clear which individuals have been omitted. A surprisingly absent figure is Michael Jackson; he truly fits all the criteria for this exhibit yet he inexplicably was not included. Jackson absolutely brought something new to American culture, for instance the moon walk. His music and performances were original and influenced his generation as well as those that followed. His dancing lacked innocence and had an edge when he would glide across stage grabbing his crotch. Almost everyone in the world knew who Michael Jackson was when he was living, and generations still know who...

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