Sunday, February 15, 2009

Childlike Imitation

In last week’s movie, Play It Again, Sam, Woody Allen aspired to be as cool, classy, and suave as Humphrey Bogart was in Casablanca, but it just wasn’t working for him. In the end he was still the same nerdy little man he was to start with, however, he did learn that it wasn’t necessary to imitate someone else’s cool because somewhere in all of us is our own potential for cool. What he really reminded me of was a little kid who lacked to the maturity to realize such a thing without torturing himself in the process of self-discovery. As I was watching the movie a couple of examples of this came to my mind, one from a great Disney/Pixar movie, and the other from a popular country song.

In the 2004 movie The Incredibles, there’s a little boy named Buddy who is absolutely obsessed with Mr. Incredible. He follows him around the city as he saves people trying to a faithful sidekick in hopes of becoming just as cool and heroic as the superhero is. Buddy efforts at imitation fail miserably though and he turns to other methods to gain power and get revenge as the all-mighty Syndrome. Aside from his evil plots to kill the superheroes, the way Buddy mimics Mr. Incredible’s every move is a lot like what we saw with Woody Allen. Buddy was desperate to be cool and thought he could achieve it by acting like someone he was not. In fact, both Buddy and Woody Allen were pretty much the polar opposites of what most people would consider cool, but maybe they should get some props for trying so incredibly hard.
The other example of “cool imitation” that came to mind for me was a country song called “Watching You” by Rodney Atkins. I know some may consider me un-cool for listening to country, but it’s actually a pretty cute song if you listen to the words. It’s a song about a little boy who wants to be just like his dad. Just as most young boys do, he wants to be just as strong as his dad, dress like him, and copy everything he says and does. That sounds a lot like Woody Allen’s idolization of Humphrey Bogart to me. Woody used all of Bogart’s lines and moves hoping they’d work as well for him. Similarly, the boy in the song idolized his dad and thought he was the coolest man alive so he imitated everything he saw his dad do hoping he could grow up to be just like him. Something tells me the boy’s endeavor to imitate his dad’s cool would work a little better than Woody Allen’s methods.


  1. So, I LOVE The Incredibles, and I thought that your reference to Syndrome for Cool Imitation was brilliant! Ironically, take away the evil smile and add some glasses...he kinda looks like Allan Felix.

    Obviously cool can't be learned. And I don't think it can be taught. Unfortunately, for some people, they have no chance of ever becoming cool. Life just isn't fair.

  2. Good examples. I'm glad you chose Syndrome! The Incredibles, as Anna has already said, is an amazing Pixar movie. Syndrome is an example of how hero worship can go wrong. He chose a dark path based on his feelings of rejection, which would make him uncool because he wasn't wanting to be a hero out of sacrifice, but out of glory.

    Good job on these entries. Thanks for adding more pictures, but don't be afraid to add links as well!

  3. Hey, don't apologize for liking something uncool -- convince us that you're right and we're wrong, that it's totally cool!

    And ditto to Whit -- links! Also italics for the titles of movies. :)

  4. When I was watching The Incredibles, I always thought that Buddy was cool as a kid trying to become a superhero through using gadgets. However, once he grew up and became Syndrome, he ceased to be cool because of his arrogance and harm towards the very cool Mr. Incredible.

  5. Cool as a super power? I can dig it. Can you name any cool people who have used their powers of cool for evil (in terms of cool that is)?

    I agree with Donna. Hopefully there will be some time in the future when we can talk about why country is often used as the definition of uncool music.

    In regards to that