Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Missing Cool

I caught a bit of an old movie on cable last weekend. It was a movie near and dear to my heart:

Saturday Night Fever

This movie came out when I was in junior high. I think it was one of the first R-rated movies I was allowed to see. Wicked Stepmother™, being the best step-mother ever, took me to see it, and we had a little girl’s night out with John and his hair. We had to drive to the next town over, because there wasn’t a real movie theater in the town where we lived, only a drive-in theater. I was excited for a solid week before our target showing and would quietly squeal to myself every time I remembered we were going.

And it was everything I had hoped it would be! The dancing, the hair, John in the white suit! OH MY GOD! It was the most exciting thing I’d ever experienced. Like EVER. It was the coolest thing on the planet in 1977.

And then I asked for (and got) the movie soundtrack for my 13th birthday, and OH MY GOD! I listened to that record over and over and over until the grooves in the album were almost worn out. I danced around in my room, imagining that the carpet was really a discotheque dance floor with the blinking lights actually embedded in the floor and John twirled me on the dance floor while my stunning polyester outfit swirled around me and the mirrored disco ball turned slowly over our heads. Could a thirteen year old girl imagine anything more perfect?? I don’t think so.

So. I caught a glimpse of the movie while I was channel surfing Saturday afternoon, and I knew exactly what it was after only a couple of seconds. I mean, after all, it was John with the swoopy hair. What else could it be? So, I just had to stop for a few minutes on that channel and have a look. I needed to see how the movie that spawned my childhood fantasies had held up over the last 30 years, maybe experience a little nostalgia for the “good ol’ days,” you know? My expectations weren’t high. I expected it to be a little dated. I mean, come on, it’s 30 years old. It’s not going to be up with all the latest cool hair and clothes and music.

But I didn’t quite expect the reaction that I had.

I giggled.

And it wasn’t the good kind of giggling. Not the Oh, I have such fond memories of those days kind of giggling. No, it was more like the AGH! Would you check out that outfit?! Is that not the most ridiculous thing you have ever seen?? kind of giggling. I was laughing AT the movie, not with it, if you know what I mean. Because it was freaking hilarious! It was a real, live cliché, playing itself out on the TV screen in front of me. It was completely absurd.

And then John danced in his white suit and did the whole finger-pointing thing and an enormous belly-laugh emerged from my person. And then I yelled for Slag to come and watch it and laugh with me. And then we both laughed our asses off for the rest of the movie.

So now I just have one question: Where did all the cool go?

Because that movie was so full of cool in 1977 that it couldn’t hold another drop. It was fully saturated. Trust me people, it was the definition of cool. It WAS cool. It WAS. Shut up.

And then suddenly it wasn’t. In the blink of an eye, a random bit of Saturday afternoon TV changed everything. The cool was gone. Vanished. Evaporated. Instead I sat there laughing at John. LAUGHING at him. And his luxurious, swoopy hair. And his white suit. Even the dancing was completely dorky.

Sweet Jesus, even the dancing? The dancing??

Nothing is ever going to be the same again. I think I need some alone time now. And a glass of wine. Maybe two glasses.


Blogger Schmoopie said...

We are products of the computer/electronic age and have been exposed to things much cooler than big, swoopy hair. At least you had a good belly laugh out of it. :)

8:39 PM  
Blogger ian said...

I get the same response when I run across an episode of Knight Rider or Miami Vice. But then, I was only 7 when the 70s ended and the 80s were MY defining decade.


9:10 PM  
Blogger Stucco said...

I've never really known what "cool" is/was, but I was pretty sure SNF wasn't really cool- it was popular.

9:36 PM  
Blogger Jazz said...

OMG! I saw Saturday Night Fever a while back and had the same reaction. It is so so bad...

And the music. Mr. Jazz does a mean BeeGees imitation; it's hilarious.

6:57 AM  
Blogger Whippersnapper said...

We gave the soundtrack to "mom" (in-law) for Christmas last year, because she wanted it, bad.

Plus: Once when I was in South Korea, and pretty hammered, I sang a Karaoke version of "If I Can't Have You (I Don't Want Nobody, Baby).

Thus endeth the "Why isn't it still cool" question.

9:54 PM  
Blogger Kara said...

So now I just have one question: Where did all the cool go?

Xenu took it with him back to the mother planet. Tom Cruise abused it and went and ruined it for every one else.

10:42 PM  
Blogger Cheesy said...

Oh sweet Jill! Those teenage giggles are the BEST!Wanna do the hutsle and the bump with me???

They say disco is dead... "they" can bite my ass!!

6:44 AM  
Blogger Gledwood said...

Wine? Have the bottle! .. sorry speaking for myself here ... hi I kind of jumped in at random via several freinds of friends removed ... I'm at gledwood2.blogspot feel free to drop by any time, you're most welcome ... all the best to you
"vol 2" ...

2:14 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

schmoopie, Agh, it was awful! I couldn't believe it...

ian, Unfortunately, the 80's were no better. "Flock of seagulls" hair frightened me at the time. I can't imagine the panic it would induce today.

stucco, Don't make me come over there. I will do it.

jazz, How does Mr. Jazz sing that high??

whippersnapper, You can still BUY that album?? I admire anyone with the nerve to sing in public. I only sing to Slag sometimes, and he doesn't like it.

kara, Oh, and don't forget Jenna Elfman and Kirstie Allie and all the others at Freaks 'r' Us.

cheesy, YES I DO! I loved the bump! Though it was dangerous to do it with someone a lot taller than you were.

gledwood, Hi! Thanks for stopping by.

5:36 PM  
Blogger nic said...

Hey Jill,
I feel the same way about Footloose. But for some reason, I can still watch it or listen to the soundtrack and get sucked back in time.

Knight Rider.. I was so in love with "the hoff" that he could do no wrong. Well, when he sang it was wrong. And I thought he was too leggy. But anyway, when I watched it as a quasi-grownup, I found myself enjoying the car more than Michael Knight. So I know exactly what you mean. Time brings knowledge and wisdom that kicks the crap out of any fun delusions or fantasies we had as a kid.

And I have SNF soundtrack on vinyl.

6:21 PM  

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