I've been lucky to grow up with The Simpsons. The show has not only thoroughly entertained me but has also taught me quite a bit. The Simpsons helped me learn to speak English, to realize the brilliance of Phil Hartman, and to identify the value of vague cultural references. The show also taught me that "cool" is often a necessary ingredient for success. The Simpsons represented the cutting edge of cool and manifested all the usual symptoms - a subversive undertone, occasional controversy, rapid word-of-mouth expansion, and eventual mass success.
Cool is what made my friends and I decide to sign up for Facebook instead of MySpace. Cool is what made me go to Google.com for the first time. Cool helped me sign up for Twitter and cool inspired me to write this blog. Cool is both powerful and precious.
Unfortunately, cool is often difficult to identify, define, and manufacture. The Simpsons tackled this problem in a brilliant car-ride conversation between the main family members:
Homer: So, I realized that being with my family is more important than being cool.
Bart: Dad, what you just said was powerfully uncool.
Homer: You know what the song says: "It's hip to be square".
Lisa: That song is so lame.
Homer: So lame that it's... cool?
Marge: Am I cool, kids?
Marge: Good. I'm glad. And that's what makes me cool, not caring, right?
Marge: Well, how the hell do you be cool? I feel like we've tried everything here.
Homer: Wait, Marge. Maybe if you're truly cool, you don't need to be told you're cool.
Bart: Well, sure you do.
Lisa: How else would you know?