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Monday, July 13, 2009

July: Rejecting the Cool Kids

Cecil says, "Main Jane rejects the cool kids, why do you think she does that? What does cool mean anyway?"

11 comments:

Little Willow said...

Cool is relative. Normal is relative. All of these status words we toss around so lightly but with so much meaning - not only in middle and high school, but in adult life as well - are like beauty: in the eye of the beholder, with what's inside counting far more that what's on the outside, because who you really are is far more important what others think of you.

My captcha word is "equal." I kid you not.

Color Online said...

Main Jane rejects the cool kids because it feels better to reject than to be rejected. Let's cut through being politically correct and be honest. No one likes rejection but if it's going to happen, you want at the very least, to feel you have power and choice not to be part of a group.

Who you are is far more important but that is not how most of us would argue we believe we've been treated in school, work or social settings.

Knowing who someone is requires taking time to getting to know someone and how many people commit to knowing everyone they interact with? You don't.

What you consciously choose to reject is relative. The social messaging we are bombarded with is not relative. It is constant, calculated and concretely affects us.

cecil castellucci said...

I agree with Little W.

Also, I think that cool is relative as well.

What I think is cool is different now than what I thought it was ten years ago. Or even five years ago. Or even last week.

Also, every group has their different variations of what is cool and what isn't.

And I always find it amazing how you can be cool with one group and then be totally uncool when hanging out with a different group.

(I even wrote a book about that. The Queen of Cool)

And color online,

I didn't see Main Jane as rejecting Cindy and her posse because she didn't wnat to be rejected, but more so because she used to be that girl before the bombing and she was looking for something new.

Also, she and Cindy do become friends on their own terms, throughout the two books.

I think social networks/etc just make navigating the pitfalls of labels like "cool" and "popular" a little trickier.

Paula said...

Like LW, I think cool is a relative term. And how we define it, is based on our own experiences.

There's always going to be something we covet, because we want how it makes us feel or how it makes us look etc... Ultimately, I love characters who learn to be comfortable in their own skin.

The challenge, perhaps, is that as we mature we outgrow some of our own traits, thoughts, mannerisms. So it's a constant work in progress to be comfortable with every "new" iteration of yourself.

That's how I see Main Jane's "rejection." She simply became comfortable in her new skin and rejecting the cool kids was how it manifested itself.

Barbara Dee said...

Being cool definitely makes a kid's life easier. But does it make his or her life more interesting? More meaningful? I don't think so. As a writer and a reader I'm always drawn to characters who question and struggle, who don't fit right in. Cool characters don't grab me--unless you can see chinks in their armor.

That said, I think it's dangerous to be too militantly anti-cool. When I was in middle and high school, I was a bit of a geek, rejecting the cool kids before they could reject me. Fast forward to high school graduation. A boy I'd had a secret crush on for years, one of the coolest kids around, signed my yearbook with this excruciating comment: "Barbara, I wish I'd gotten to know you better. I've always thought you were really cool." At the time, I thought this was merely ironic, but looking back, I'm pained at how much energy I'd wasted in writing this boy off merely on the basis of his coolness. In fact, if I'd have given him a chance, maybe my high school years would have been a whole lot different.

The uncool can be as judgemental as the cool.

Melissa Walker said...

"The uncool can be as judgemental as the cool." Totally, Barbara Dee! We're all constantly making assessments.

Erin said...

She rejects them cause she's SMART and her definition of cool isn't there's. :-)

For a lot of people, cool is synonymous with popular. To me, cool is someone who's kind, intelligent, fun to be around, inspiring...you get the idea. :) (like my rgz peeps!!)

Lorie Ann Grover said...

Great thread! I like these concluding thoughts by Paula:

That's how I see Main Jane's "rejection." She simply became comfortable in her new skin and rejecting the cool kids was how it manifested itself.

I'm so glad we each have the ability to define cool ourselves.

holly cupala said...

I think part of being comfortable in your own skin and defining coolness for yourself is learning to choose what kind of people you want to be around. Just the discovery that you have a choice - there's power in that.

susan said...

Cecil,

Won't argue with the author. I honestly was responding to the question in the general thinking about high school and wasn't thinking about the book which I read last year. It would help if I stick with the specific question.

I still contend that we will reject if we fear being rejected.

Shelf Elf said...

So much of how we define cool is in response to how we think other people perceive us. Perhaps how we define cool says a lot about how we feel about ourselves, our "self-esteem" for lack of a better term. I think it does. I spent a lot of time over the years rejecting the cool kids and dismissing them. I think that said more about me than anything else.