Join 3,561 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


This table is seriously lacking in James Bond.
December 17, 2008 11:08 PM   Subscribe

In 300 B.C., years before the birth of black Jesus, Aristole postulated that all good things were made of "win." That was a pretty good guess, but he was drunk and probably also having an orgy. Modern day awesominers know there are actually 118 fundamental "awesoments" that compose all good things. The Periodic Table of Awesoments can be a very useful tool. It's designed to show the relationships between awesoments, and often one can even predict how awesoments interact simply by their positions on the table.
posted by crossoverman (90 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
You had me at awesoment 1, "bacon."
posted by grouse at 11:15 PM on December 17, 2008


A guy I know legally changed his last name to Awesome.
You can see him if you turn on the Nintendo Channel and look for Twelve Tips with Dan Awesome.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:24 PM on December 17, 2008


What's a "werewovle"? (#70)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:27 PM on December 17, 2008


That's weird. That's exactly the arrangement I used to assign all the keys on my keyboard.

What's a "werewovle"? (#70)

They used to be wovles.
posted by pracowity at 11:29 PM on December 17, 2008 [8 favorites]


The Periodic table of Awesoments can be a very useful tool. It's designed to show the relationships between awesoments, and often one can even predict how awesoments interact simply by their positions on the table.

Sharks with Mohawks? AWESOME

Robot Wizards? AWESOME

Tornado Sex? AWESOME

Werewolf Trilobites? Um... awesome?

Clearly this chart requires more study, as there are several combinations that are not eminently awesome.

I call bacon. Bacon and Batman.

This might take awhile.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:29 PM on December 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


This is roughly consistant with my expectations, though many of the foodstuffs and beverages are questionable.
posted by Artw at 11:31 PM on December 17, 2008


We learned from Batman Begins that he is a trained ninja, so maybe we can have a hybrid between 2 and 3. And I just don't understand chocolate as 7 and then cheese as 8. Cheese needs to be closer to beer or bacon. I reject aliens as any kind of win, sex is way too far down and shouldn't be near tornadoes, and where is all the other cool stuff like music. I don't totally get it and there should be more things, but, hell, I love bacon, so.
posted by inconsequentialist at 11:34 PM on December 17, 2008


Wait, we might be able to use this as some fucked up version of Twister... but we have to add pizza.
posted by inconsequentialist at 11:39 PM on December 17, 2008


right foot "bacon"
posted by vapidave at 11:44 PM on December 17, 2008


North American Version: right foot "bacon"
posted by vapidave at 11:46 PM on December 17, 2008


The table of true awesomeness would be so much more awesome then this "shadows on the cave wall of awesomeness"
posted by cell divide at 11:52 PM on December 17, 2008 [10 favorites]


It saddens me that there doesn't seem to be a coherent logic to the awesomeosity of this all. MeFi detectives, hope me!
posted by Phire at 11:54 PM on December 17, 2008


Bacterial version: I don't have a foot but, "bacon"
Sorry, nap time.
posted by vapidave at 11:56 PM on December 17, 2008


Why does Bob Saget have a higher awesoment number (37) than Batman (3)?

The other columns work properly with ascending levels of awesome as the numbers increase. But Bob Saget is not greater than Batman. I'm sorry, just saying.
posted by shagoth at 12:00 AM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Obviously this table is incomplete, as there is an entry for "Minigun" but not "Mingus", and there is no entry for "Me."
posted by davejay at 12:03 AM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, just fuck this.

I started to write a more eloquent response, but stopped, because I promised myself that anything citing the condition "made of win" or "made of fail" only deserves the above response.

It's done me right so far.
posted by Graygorey at 12:15 AM on December 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


This may be the worst kind of snark, but fuck 4chan and this silly fucking humour. "LOL WIN EPIC LULZ" jesus christ. Enough already.
posted by Thoth at 12:21 AM on December 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Aristotle is even more awesome than Aristole.

Actually, Aristatolianium is an element in the Philosophical Periodic Table.
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:35 AM on December 18, 2008


Wow. Was not expecting the vitriol. Care to elaborate why an image of "silly humour" would arouse this much anger, Thoth?
posted by Phire at 12:36 AM on December 18, 2008


So:
Grenades+BaconZombies-->GrenadeZombie2+Bacon2


Yep. That'll fly.
posted by sourwookie at 12:42 AM on December 18, 2008


Wow. Was not expecting the vitriol. Care to elaborate why an image of "silly humour" would arouse this much anger, Thoth?

Clearly, it's because win is actually full of fail.
posted by delmoi at 12:45 AM on December 18, 2008


Beer12 Bacon22 Cheese11:

Purest high ever.
posted by sourwookie at 12:46 AM on December 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


why an image of "silly humour" would arouse this much anger

The post probably has more to do with Boing Boing than 4chan. Me, I just hate all periodic tables that are really just lists formatted to look like a periodic table, as though the periodic table itself makes things funnier. THE PERIODIC TABLE IS SERIOUS! Stop laughing at it.

Well, except for The Periodic Table of Vienna Chicago Style Hot Dog Condiments, which is both hilarious and informative.
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:51 AM on December 18, 2008


Actually:
Beer2, Bacon5, CheeseBacon.

Funny how ethanol actually contains beer.
posted by sourwookie at 12:54 AM on December 18, 2008


It's good to see Saget finally get the recognition he so richly deserves.

Oh, and Thoth, you're right. It is the worst kind of snark.
posted by Optamystic at 1:10 AM on December 18, 2008


Taco Bell? I call shenanigans.
posted by signalnine at 1:12 AM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


What I said was completely uncalled for. Please accept my apologies, everybody
posted by Thoth at 2:13 AM on December 18, 2008


Chuck Norris destroyed the periodic table, because he only recognizes the element of surprise.

Chuck Norris is not #11, he is #1, twice.

Chuck Norris does not have an abbreviation.
posted by mandal at 2:15 AM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Are you saying that Chuck Norris is bacon and bacon?
posted by eriko at 2:40 AM on December 18, 2008


What's a "werewovle"?

It's half-man, half-wofl.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:08 AM on December 18, 2008


"Chuck Norris is not #11, he is #1, twice."

When you're Chuck Norris, anything + anything is equal to 1. One roundhouse kick to the face.
posted by gallagho at 3:38 AM on December 18, 2008


Mr. T is highly distanced from Mohawk, I don't see sledgehammers, and I don't see ice. Clearly, this table is not going to survive peer review.

I mean really. No ice? Ice is cool!
posted by Saydur at 3:46 AM on December 18, 2008


[fapfapfapfapfapfapfap]

...They forgot something...

[fapfapfapfapfapfapfap]
posted by CynicalKnight at 4:14 AM on December 18, 2008


Robot Wizards? AWESOME

Robot Wizards would be AWESOME but theory predicts they are impossible. Wizards are in the Noble Awesome column of the periodic table and which renders them awesomely inert.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'd like to take a drink of my refreshing Bn2Sg.
posted by DU at 4:53 AM on December 18, 2008


roflwofl
posted by adamdschneider at 4:58 AM on December 18, 2008


Jet Figther?
posted by sixswitch at 5:10 AM on December 18, 2008


And I just don't understand chocolate as 7 and then cheese as 8. Cheese needs to be closer to beer or bacon.

Isn't there a Ween album named Chocolate and Cheese?
posted by NoMich at 5:12 AM on December 18, 2008


It's awesome that Mr. T's symbol is Ba.
posted by MrMoonPie at 5:16 AM on December 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


I preferred this one from Look Around You - click the image in the first link to embiggen.
posted by kcds at 5:35 AM on December 18, 2008


Not to point this out, but if sex is #113, its one of the awesome components that can only be made in a lab and which only lives for microseconds before collapsing under its own weight. Fie to that, I say! I'd much rather sex be stable dependable element than miniguns.
posted by Kiablokirk at 6:05 AM on December 18, 2008


Oh, just fuck this.
I started to write a more eloquent response, but stopped, because I promised myself that anything citing the condition "made of win" or "made of fail" only deserves the above response.
It's done me right so far.
posted by Graygorey at 3:15 AM on December 18


I think you're missing the semiotics at work here. This is a chart of symbols of machismo as they have come to define American manliness.

In other words, if one studies the popular culture over the last few decades, one notices that the representation of the American male is characterized as a brute, an oaf, a glutton, a zealot, an infant, dishonorable, and an oaf. The American male is preoccupied with style rather than substance. To be a tough guy, one merely has to adopt the affectations of the tough guy - there is no need to actually fight other tough guys or take risks. This is how Chuck Norris, an actual martial arts champion, is juxtaposed with penguin. The American man as a symbol can only juggle cuteness and toughness, but he can't reconcile them into assertiveness or tenderness, because that requires maturity, wisdom, and experience. But the modern american male, having been raised in sheltered anodyne suburban communities, has no real experience to speak of, and certainly not enough from which he can derive wisdom or grow out of adolescence.

For example, bacon is not on the list as bacon. More directly, the chart does not include bacon qua bacon. Instead it is included as a symbol of gluttony or indulgence regardless of health or cuisine.

James Bond is rightfully excluded from the list because (a) he is British, and (b) he has class and dignity. He is a symbol of British masculinity, or at least the symbol that the producers of British culture want the world to see as a symbol of British masculinity. But this is echoed in other parts of British culture. Jason Statham is a an action star cut from the same cloth. Both in life and in the roles he plays, he is a chiseled, hard-scrabble loner, with a refined taste in cars, women and clothing. In British culture, the gentleman must be capable of being a fighter, because it is the gentlemen of society who will be called upon to defend their culture and national identity. This is also why there is no great surprise in the UK that a prince would voluntarily choose to join the military and then insist on a combat deployment.

American culture is still schizophrenic about the role of the male, and this list reflects it. In fact, this is really a list of "awesoments" from the perspective of white masculinity of a certain generation. In black American culture, there is a desire to adopt the affectations of class and aristocracy. Black rappers who grew up poor rap about fine jewelry, champagne and top-shelf liquors, expensive luxury and super-luxury cars. White rappers who grew up poor rap about their mothers.

This is why in America, black youth culture appears more authentic to white eyes than white culture. Black male culture aspire to reconcile the gentleman with the gangster, because crime is the means to achieve the end of gaining wealth and joining the aristocracy. For white males, who enjoy the privilege of aristocracy or near-aristocracy, the gansta identity, like the Chuck Norris identity, or the childish fantasy heroes of youth, are meant as a pose, to attempt to convince the world that their status was earned and not merely a birthright.

So the American male deconstructs every aspect of aristocracy and negates it. An American gentleman, in the image of Jefferson, should be a connoisseur of wine. This chart replaces wine with Mt. Dew - the childish antipode of a vintage Rothschild. The American gentleman is a sailor - this chart includes a battleship, the one vessel lacking the grace, panache, or finesse of the sailboat.

So what of all this? Is the chart merely a list of all the dead end avenues the American male has chosen over the last few decades?

No, I am more optimistic. I think that the chart, more specifically the amalgamation of these signs into a chart and presented in a roughly humorous fashion represents a digestion of these signs into a new emergent masculine cultural identity. The culture is acknowledging the flaws in the oafish action hero paradigm, but into order to move forward, the old paradigm must be sublimated, and that is done most effectively through humor and irony. Chuck Norris is now funny because his machismo and toughness are so obviously ridiculous now that people who thought it was "cool" the first time it came around must in some respects be ridiculous themselves.

And there we have that word that plagues these discussions of popular culture: "cool". The chart dances around the issue by substituting variants of the word awesome, but the core issue is that for the culture to mature and progress, it must sublimate the notion of cool itself, and this chart does not make progress on that front.

Chuck Norris was cool as the tough guy when he was making movies in the 70's and 80's. The symbol of Chuck Norris is cool now because it is funny and ironic. But the culture still needs something to be cool. More specifically, the American male still needs something cool to identify himself with.

It is this notion of "cool" that I have yet to fully understand myself. Is cool the psychological or semiotic analog of the peacocks feathers? In other words, is cool the character, personality, and behavioral traits that males think will attract females? Or is cool analogous to the deers antlers-- wildly impractical traits that are used to compete with and dominate other males?

And collectively, are the things that are considered cool, which are also happen to be things which are considered macho or manly, being elevated to symbols of national pride by political agents bent on promoting a nationalist or fascist american movement? I notice that "eagle" and "fortress" are on the chart too.

In summary, I wouldn't dismiss the chart out of hand. The chart is doing important work toward sublimating through humor the symbols of machismo which have served the culture poorly in the past. What is needed is a newer cultural identity that embraces maturity, dignity, refinement, capability, and assertiveness.
posted by Pastabagel at 6:28 AM on December 18, 2008 [94 favorites]


This science appears to be in its infancy. This is more like an alchemy of awesome then a true science. Perhaps some serious laboratory work is in order.

Obviously the "noble awesomes" are awesome just by themselves. But, if they can easily be combined with other awesomes then maybe they are in the wrong place on the tables. I see that zombies and ninjas can be combined fairly easily, whereas blackholes don't really mingle well with anything else. Perhaps blackholes are a noble awesome. Bacon appears to be the most common awesome in my daily life. All of the awesomes in column 1 are highly reactive.

Hmmm, it's really a field of study all on it's own.
posted by jefeweiss at 6:36 AM on December 18, 2008


I don't know, some of the molecules aren't so great. I mean BaBb2 is not so awesome.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:39 AM on December 18, 2008


It appears that Pastabagel has already founded the field of "Meta Awesomeness" with his treatise "Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Awesomeness."
posted by jefeweiss at 6:39 AM on December 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


I saw this 2 days ago and found very strange to find 4 trademarked products in there, and only those 4, 3 from PepsiCo.
posted by bru at 6:40 AM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Good idea, but poorly implemented. Someone oughta take a crack at this, but include standard periodic trends (valence, electronegativity, radius, weight). I just have a hard time believing that Assassins are noble and Bob Saget is highly reactive. On the other hand, doritos do taste like chalcogen and most metal today is post-transition metal.
posted by The White Hat at 6:48 AM on December 18, 2008


Pastabagel - but what are your thoughts on desks?
posted by marginaliana at 6:55 AM on December 18, 2008


Periodic table of candy.
posted by Brian B. at 7:00 AM on December 18, 2008


Pastabagel, many thanks.

I would also add that there is no corresponding female version of this because women aren't as worried about defining their femininity as men are about defining their masculinity. So, we are free to love (for example) robots, chocolate, and bacon without feeling like we also have to love monster trucks or scars.
posted by emjaybee at 7:17 AM on December 18, 2008


Pastabagel, will you be my friend?




Also, because it is awesome funny and well written,
The Periodic Table Of Science Fiction
posted by The Whelk at 7:19 AM on December 18, 2008


Pastabagel, you had me at "machismo."
posted by Graygorey at 7:47 AM on December 18, 2008


Pastabagel's answer is going on my periodic table of applied academic awesomeness.
posted by carmen at 7:50 AM on December 18, 2008


Nice thoughts Pastabagel, and New Zealand males have similar issues, albeit limited to rugby, racing (horses) and beer.

Thankfully hip-hop culture has spread globally and proven a good surrogate for authenticity. Of course we have very tight gun laws here, and the threat to "pop a cap in your ass" is something else entirely.

As an avenue for exploring the basis for cool, I believe imitation of the best imitators is a good place to begin.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 7:55 AM on December 18, 2008


the chart does not include bacon qua bacon

You take that back :(
posted by grouse at 8:07 AM on December 18, 2008


In other words, is cool the character, personality, and behavioral traits that males think will attract females? Or is cool analogous to the deers antlers-- wildly impractical traits that are used to compete with and dominate other males?

It doesn't have to be one or the other.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:08 AM on December 18, 2008


Metafilter: bacon qua bacon.
posted by rusty at 8:14 AM on December 18, 2008


(Also, this table has number issues. Why one "Tank" but multiple "Rayguns"? The lanthanides are singular from Dinosaur to Trilobyte, but then suddenly pluralize for Werewovles (sic) and Mutants. Leaving aside the other obvious typos ("Jet Figther," honestly) this still needs some serious remedial number agreement. C- please see me after class.)
posted by rusty at 8:17 AM on December 18, 2008


The first principle of baconjectivism is the identibacon principle: bacon is bacon.

Why does Bob Saget have a higher awesoment number (37) than Batman (3)?

Bob Saget has more protawesomes.

Your mistake is thinking that higher awesome numbers mean more awesome. Iron has a higher atomic number than lithium, but it isn't more atomic. Generally, how awesome something will be in practice is determined by the arrangement of the electrawesomes.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:42 AM on December 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


This is really, really dumb. Seems a lot more like something I would get stuck with on Stumble than Mefi.
posted by paisley henosis at 8:55 AM on December 18, 2008


They included Chuck Norris but not Bruce Campbell? That's a load of bolognium.
posted by quin at 9:22 AM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


boyzone
posted by theora55 at 9:30 AM on December 18, 2008


Pastabagel: "What is needed is a newer cultural identity that embraces maturity, dignity, refinement, capability, and assertiveness."

Two words: Barack Obama.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:56 AM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Boobs is adjacent to Mountain Dew, Beef Jerky, and Space. There's meaning there, but I can't decipher it. Is it a jab at computer nerds? I'm spending way too much time trying to figure this out...
posted by diogenes at 10:13 AM on December 18, 2008


The whole chart is both stuff and nonsense. Everyone knows there are only five awesoments: bacon, sex, booze, explosions, and giant void-sailing space dragons. Teach the controversy!
posted by Caduceus at 10:47 AM on December 18, 2008


Pastabagel! Your comment itself belongs on that chart. That's some awesomenessosity right there.
posted by lord_wolf at 10:48 AM on December 18, 2008


Congratulations, I'm now utterly sick to death of the word "awesome". Maybe now I'll stop using it so much.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:50 AM on December 18, 2008


While we're on the subject of awesome periodic tables...
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:54 AM on December 18, 2008


That was pretty cool, Pastabagel.
posted by Mister_A at 11:06 AM on December 18, 2008


pastabagel, as usual you live up to my long-held opinion of you. thank you for that cogent analysis, I plan to share it with others (ie non-metafilterians) along with the original link. you are smeared with the creamcheese of awesomeness, sir.
posted by supermedusa at 11:15 AM on December 18, 2008


Fuckin' A, Pastabagel. What? Are you a fag or something? Keep talking like that, and someone's gonna kick your ass.

Go watch some football and drink a beer. Your depussification will begin shortly.
posted by Chuffy at 11:22 AM on December 18, 2008


I think this would have been fine for almost a throw-away joke, but then someone takes it farther, getting all meta on the joke. And that's what (the current) MetaFilter is about - taking jokes farther than necessary, but being more amusing at the same time.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:34 AM on December 18, 2008


Sorry, I was out getting a mohawk with Batman, Norris and Shatner while training in space to be a ninja jedi with light sabers and exploding laser throwing stars.

We stopped off to have a beer at Taco Bell and wound up having sex with a bevy of mutant vampire pirate sniper chicks in jet packs while Christopher Walken played a guitar solo and poured chocolate and cheese all over their boobs and catapulted fireworks into a black hole.

Spilled some liquor in our coffee at lightspeed as we exploded into hyperspace in my Time Traveling Bacon Rocket Monster Truck. Had to use the battle axe firing miniguns to take out a giant squid ghost who tried to tattoo mustaches on us with a flaming magnetic lightning tornado.

But Bob Sagat said something that I was (fucking) living out a (bullshit) childish fantasy with my (cocksucking) heroes of (cumdrinking) youth, and that it was only meant as a (babyfucking) pose to (fucking) attempt to convince the (fucking) world that my (rectumlicking) status was (chimpfucking) earned and not merely a (earclitting) birthright.

So I thought I’d get my computer on the internet and see what’s up. What’d I miss? What’s this about James Bond?
posted by Smedleyman at 11:39 AM on December 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


earclitting?
posted by brundlefly at 12:03 PM on December 18, 2008


This may be the worst kind of snark, but fuck 4chan and this silly fucking humour. "LOL WIN EPIC LULZ" jesus christ. Enough already.

For some reason, I'm unable to favorite this, but yeah. Pirates ninjas zombies Chuck Norris LOL. Enough already.
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:14 PM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I firmly believe that nothing is actually "made of win", or "awesome" for that matter. Filled with win, however, is a different situation entirely. "Full of awesome" just doesn't sound as.... awesome... as "full of win", though.
posted by owtytrof at 12:37 PM on December 18, 2008


living out a (bullshit) childish fantasy with my (cocksucking) heroes of (cumdrinking) youth,

I realize this was a joke, but isn't it funny how men insult each other by accusing them of doing things they desperately ask of their wives and girlfriends? "Hey, you little cocksucker! No, not you sweetie, you keep up the good work."

And on that subject, why will some women engage in the latter above-identified practice, but will be totally grossed out by coming into contact with urine. Urine is sterile and harmless. The other stuff is specifically constructed to dissolve membranes and cell walls. It's full of little alive things.

Humans are weird. Carry on.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:56 PM on December 18, 2008


Someone oughta take a crack at this, but include standard periodic trends (valence, electronegativity, radius, weight).

I won't go that far, but I did notice that the analog for water (H2O) on this would be 2 parts bacon, one part cheese (Bn2Ch).

As it should be.

posted by JonahBlack at 1:17 PM on December 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


brundlefly, have you seen Sagat live?
posted by Smedleyman at 3:42 PM on December 18, 2008


And thanks, Pastabagel. Now I’m thinking my sperm are going to dissolve the scrotal cell walls and escape from my slacks.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:44 PM on December 18, 2008


filthy light thief said "And that's what (the current) MetaFilter is about - taking jokes farther than necessary, but being more amusing at the same time."

Really? I've been coming here for all the wrong reasons then. I thought you guys were all into being smert.
posted by phylum sinter at 4:57 PM on December 18, 2008


also: how about we figure out a way to combine the whole table into a milkshake or something? You can wrap pretty much anything in bacon for massive win.
posted by phylum sinter at 5:01 PM on December 18, 2008


There is no context in which ramen is awesome. Subsisting on ramen = desperately broke = NOT AWESOME.


Clearly, this chart is related to awesomeness as determined by boys and young men. SHOES, for instance, are noticeably absent.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:39 PM on December 18, 2008


Check out element 46.....hmmmm....
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:12 PM on December 18, 2008


The context in which ramen is awesome is in any respectable ramen place where they make their own ramen.

Instant noodles on the other side...

But yeah, I love bacon, but I can think of a few hundred more awesome stuff, like astronomy, or keeping house plants, or reading a good novel. I keep my manliness in my genes, thank you very much.
posted by dirty lies at 6:56 PM on December 18, 2008


also: how about we figure out a way to combine the whole table into a milkshake or something? You can wrap pretty much anything in bacon for massive win.

I think this is the ultimate goal of "will it blend?"
posted by Biblio at 6:57 PM on December 18, 2008


Sagat live.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:19 PM on December 18, 2008


I realize this was a joke, but isn't it funny how men insult each other by accusing them of doing things they desperately ask of their wives and girlfriends? "Hey, you little cocksucker! No, not you sweetie, you keep up the good work."

Okay, I *just* finished reading Gay New York and the general idea seems to be that the insult "Cocksucker" (and related) refer to the low status of passive sex acts. A cocksuckin' man would loose his Male status by engaging in such a behavior. A respectable woman would also loose status for engaging in such a "low" action, leading to mental linking of gay men with prositutues or low-class woman at the turn of the century.
posted by The Whelk at 9:33 PM on December 18, 2008


I just MefiMailed pb about a bug with the favoriting script - it doesn't work for me right now.

And along comes that comment from Pastabagel...
posted by DreamerFi at 6:24 AM on December 19, 2008


“but isn't it funny how men insult each other by accusing them of doing things they desperately ask of their wives and girlfriends”

I suspect it’s the submission aspect implicit in the insult/threat by insinuation sort of deal. Feminization is something many men take as an affront, hence the nature of the insults.
+ what The Whelk sed.
++ speak for yourself on ‘desparately.’ I gotta keep gatoraide by the bed.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:52 AM on December 19, 2008


Pastabagel, that analysis was totally awesome, but not cool.

I really mean that. I would call your analysis "awesome," because of its impressiveness, but not "cool," because everything about it--its earnestness, its disregard for the importance of posturing, its unapologetic intellectualness--is the opposite of what the word "cool" has meant in every English language community I have ever been a part of in my life.

All this is to say that I was 100% with you up until "The symbol of Chuck Norris is cool now because it is funny and ironic."

Because I don't think “the symbol of Chuck Norris” is “cool,” now or ever (really not to snark, but by “now” you meant “a couple years ago,” right?). Even at the height of the Norris jokes, I just can't imagine even the people who made them thinking it was a “cool” thing to do. In contrast, I at least can imagine Norris-jokers thinking those jokes were at least a little “awesome.”

So, I think it's a huge mistake to equate “cool” and “awesome.” In the English I know and use, these are completely different words signifying completely different concepts.

Now, I would be curious to hear about others' perceptions, but to me it seems like “cool” in North America has much more to do with the tradition of co-opting the identity markers of black culture that you refer to, whereas to use the word “awesome” in 2008 is to align yourself (self-consciously or otherwise) with a much more explicitly dorky, unsexy, not-even-trying-to-be-cool culture. “Awesome” is the internet dorkiness of “full of win”; it is the 80's white culture of Back to the Future, Bill & Ted, and John Hughes. And although it is also grad school students who have decided their priorities now lie outside the realm of keeping up with the latest cool way to say “good,” which I don't think applies here, whatever it is, there's nothing “cool” about “awesome.”1

But so what is up with this table of awesoments? I love your sketch of the structure of the American male stereotype, but I think I'm more pessimistic about how this table fits into that progression. The celebration of “awesome” stuff, in this context, to me, doesn't strike me as as ironic or old-skin-sloughing as you seem to hope it is. I know I don't fit within the exact target demographic of it, but it seems like a retreat into the safety of thoroughly approved and pre-digested signifiers, consumed with only the amount of irony necessary for any expression of actual enthusiasm in this culture. It would surprise me if the creators and the majority of the consumers of this table didn't actually like bacon, boobs, and tanks. I percieve this as a legitimatization and an “owning” of a certain kind of high dorkery that I agree is valued at the expense of the more mature traits you mention.

Like blacks' reclamation of 'the N word' and homosexuals' (and allies) reclamation of 'fag', this strikes me as a reclamation by a certain kind of dork of that which has in the past been used against them: their love of video games, action movies, uncool music (Metal, Guitar Solo), Lego, and violence-by-proxy. I think the creator knows these things aren't “cool,” but (I'm gonna go out on a limb and gender it) he appears to be claiming them as his own under the banner of “awesome.” It says to me: 'Yeah, I know this stuff isn't cool, but I don't care about that shit, it's obviously awesome.' This strikes me as a justification of the otherwise unjustifiable values of a threatened-feeling culture. This is weak white dork culture. It holds fast to an immoral privilege because it knows it has nothing else.

(As, globally, the decline of white privilege tentatively begins (mostly I'm thinking here: Obama; rise of China), I expect to see in those whites whose most valuable attribute is simply being white increasingly desperate and tautological claims on status solely on the basis of their whiteness.2)


1 So I don't think “cool” has anything to do with this chart, but in your analysis is coolness as a phenomen I think you are looking too narrow: to define it merely in terms of straight male biology would leave you scrambling to find completely different definitions of cool for gay men and gay and straight women, all of whom exist, and not just passively, within a culture and cultures where cool is an irreducible value in itself. And cool is irreducible; it's like money in that way: it can be thought of in terms of other things, but nothing other than money is actually money, and no concept other than “cool” is “cool” (including perhaps its closest neighbour, “status,” which just demonstrates the uniqueness of “cool” as a concept/property, since you can have very high status without being at all cool.)

2 Which is of course how racism presently works and has always worked.

posted by skwt at 8:05 PM on December 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


« Older Boy in the Water...  |  What is a Spaniard?: Forcibly ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments