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I listen to radio, and increasingly podcasts, for conversation and documentary. Should I chance upon drama I reach for the dial again. I was wondering why and came up with a simple answer. It's that everywhere - films, plays, novels, music, advertising, the news - is chock-full of what we might call the pornography of emotion. Emo-porn if you will.

And I am bored of it. So many things you tune into have somebody in a fevered state of feeling. It has probably always been true. Drama by definition is all about exaggerated feeling. It's curious just how endlessly voyeuristic humans are when it comes to looking in on someone having a big moment fictional or otherwise.

Exposure to untypical extremes would have been less the case in the past. Fictionalised drama was an occasion. It required an escape to the movies or the theatre or the library for the fix to be administered. But now radio, television and the rest are so ubiquitous that acquaintance with dramatised content is perpetual. Previously these fixes would have come in fairly small doses but now they impact on the culture with the effect of an onslaught.

Living so hyped-up is the antithesis of cool and it is ”cool” I refer to here. The oft-used term describes something rarely seen these days. Virtually no one is cool. People are over-stimulated to the point of nervous exhaustion by stuff coming at them from speakers and screens.

There are no cool people as cool needs to be laid-back; it has perspective; it might have some different and interesting slant to bring. You rarely come across any such person in any of the cultural forms. At least I don’t. The archetypes are all-shouting and all-emoting, giving off some dark and menacing essence for its intended porn value. It's a regretful thing the death of cool and I mourn its passing.

living hyped-up is the antithesis of cool

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THE DEATH OF COOL

commentary • 17.08.08