Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Rebels

Cool rebellion can come in many forms; the first that comes to mind is James Dean.  One of his three star films, Rebel Without a Cause, says everything.  When someone utters the word ‘cool’ it will often happen that the image that pops into someone’s head is that of James Dean.  He only had three main films, all of which were a huge success.  He was edgy and a rebel in many forms.  Dean’s roles in East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause were both that of a younger rebel boy.  Not only did Dean play rebels in his hit movies, he had some rebel tendencies in his own day-to-day life.  After finishing high school he went to college, then transferred and changed his major, and eventually he just dropped out of college altogether.  Rather than getting a degree in drama he choose to drop everything to pursue a full time job in acting.  Along the way he made multiple rebellious decisions, even supposedly being homosexually involved and heterosexually involved.  He is seen as a prime example of cool rebellion.  The picture of him smoking and that mischievous grin on his face tell of his known rebellion.  Even the day he died he had been a rebel; he was given a speeding ticket not too much earlier than his fatal accident with another car (thought not his fault). If he had grown older, would he have remained the cool rebel that he was at the time of his death, or did his death seal his fate and legacy as that well-known cool rebel?

A film that reminded me of the cool rebellion of Easy Rider is The Truman Show.  Jim Carrey’s character, Truman Burbank, is not the badass rebel that we see in James Dean, or even the super mellow yet somehow transcendent cool of Wyatt in Easy Rider.  Truman Burbank is an average man as far as he knows.  He is only trying to live his life, make it work, and make himself happy.  The town is the perfect American dream, even down to the fences; I have seen Seaside, FL (where this was filmed) and can say that it appears to be the same in and out of the film’s scenario.  Truman feels as if something is not right, and for good reason.  A corporation has staged his life; nothing is real, yet to Truman everything is real.  In the end Truman is the rebel for questioning why he was not happy and for leaving his perfect little world.  Though not the same rebel, Truman shows how this cool rebellion might even be brought into everyday life (subtracting the corporation staging).


  1. I think Truman and the countercultural cool guys you talk about have more in common with trying to escape the culture they have been given then you let on.

    That said Truman also brings up a very interesting point about just how dangerous it is for us to leave our culture and entering another. Do you think you could ever do it?

  2. I agree with FJohn. It could be terrifying to leave the world you've known for something else. Do you think James Dean would have been "cool" enough to leave the rebel streets he fit into?