Please watch the 53-minute video, The Merchants of Cool, located here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/cool/view/ (Links to an external site.)
Even though the video was produced more than a decade ago, it remains very much relevant today. In fact, you may want to watch it more than once before answering the following questions:
Is the “mook” (the stereotypically crude, adolescent male) real, or just a media construction? How about the “midriff” (the girl as sex symbol)? Do you know any “mooks” or “midriffs”? How do the “mook” and “midriff” stereotypes relate to the corporate interests of the media outlets that perpetuate them (in other words, why these particular stereotypes and not some other stereotype)? Many media observers have claimed that programs like Beverly Hills 90210 or Dawson’s Creek were popular because they were reflective of teen life. In what ways are shows like 90210 and Dawson’s Creek reflective of how teenagers really live and in what ways are they distortions? Do these shows mirror the way you live? Because they do so much research, media makers think they know a lot about you. Do you agree or disagree with the following assertions from “The Merchants of Cool”: “Sex is a part of teens lives, so it better be in their media, too.” and “No teenager is going to be satisfied with a PG-13 rated horror film. They want to see blood and guts. That’s what they want to do.” What are the implications of cool hunting for the development of new ideas, new music, new art forms, etc.?
The Merchants of Cool