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On Inauguration Day White People Can Finally Be Cool

I cannot stress how important these next four years are going to be.

Ladies and Gentlemen, there has been an unfair racial imbalance in this country and, with an African American President, we finally have a chance to remedy this injustice. It's time to prove that anyone can grow up to be anything, regardless of the color of their skin. It's time to level the playing field. It's time we find the antidote for the poison of racial inequality that has plagued one particular race for far too long now. This is our chance.

I'm speaking, of course, about White People.

For the first time in a very, very long time, the White Man finally has the chance to be Cool again. As a white-ish* man, all I have to say to the rest of you is this: Do not blow this for me.

Wrap your brains around this: For the first time in American History, "The Man" isn't white anymore. Do you have any idea how important that is for us? For too long, we haven't been able to recapture coolness because we've all been "The Man." I don't like it any more than you do, but that's just the way it works. "The Man" was white, and you can't be cool if you're the man. Oppression, (and, with it, rebellion), is ingrained in the "Cool Spirit." Or, to put it in the words of Lewis MacAdams, the dude who literally wrote the book on cool, "Cool is inherently political. Racism and the need to deal with it permeated every aspect of the birth of the cool." The Cool Man needs to believe he's on the outside of some kind of vast, oppressive conspiracy bent on keeping him down and, as long as "The Man" doing the oppressing was white, we weren't legally allowed to be cool. The White Man's seemingly perpetual "The Man-status" has forever kept us, (and, more importantly, me), on the inside of that conspiracy. But not any more. Obama's election means the balance shifts.

White Folks, it's time for us to take back Cool.

Enjoy your country, sucker!

Now, while an Obama Administration makes it impossible for black people to be cool, it does not guarantee white coolness, it just makes it possible. This is an important distinction. It means that we can still screw this up.

Just stay focused. In the wise words of former professor of Race Relations at Harvard University Soren Bowie, "When you're not 'The Man,' you can be...the man." We're not "The Man" anymore, we're not keeping anyone down. The Man is keeping us down. We're on the outside. The edge! We're the ones who get screwed, and we're the ones for whom the system does not work. Whiteys, we are Shaft! Shaft!Fucking finally!

Everything in my life has been leading up to this moment.

Now, it would be really easy for us (you) to ruin this for the rest of us (me), so pay attention. First and foremost, White People, stop doing whatever it is that you're doing. It's not cool, trust me. While you've certainly had the market cornered on "hip irony" for the last few years, you still have no idea what it means to be cool. As research for this column, I hung out at a Starbucks listening to a bunch of white people talk the other day, and you know what they discussed? Fuel efficiency. Indie-rock How I Met Your Mother. Their 401(k)s.

I don't think I need to tell you that there is nothing cool about any of those things. It's pathetic.

What we need to do is think back and channel the coolness of our ancestors. Think back to that mythical time when it actually was cool to be white. Think of a time, dear readers, when guys like Humphrey Bogart and John Wayne wandered the Earth, chain-smoking, binge-drinking and chain-fucking like there was no tomorrow. You think Humphrey Bogart cared about his 401(k)? You think James Dean would be scouring the internet in search of some leaked Weezer tracks? Do you think Frank Sinatra would've given a shit about the Toyota Prius?

No, no, no. Those guys were cool and white, because that's what life used to be like. Don't believe me? Watch Mad Men. It's set in the 1960s, back in a time when smoking was indoors, white men were cool, and women were reliable and silent, like sexy pieces of furniture. Just look at this friggin' Mad Men guy.

That's probably a direct quote from an actual episode. That's how cool we can be.

Watch Mad Men, rent some Bogart flicks, and start taking notes. Are you taking notes? Dammit, White People, that was a test and you failed. Never take notes, note-taking isn't cool. Put the pen down.

Just watch those movies and start living your life like those guys. Wander around in a fucking suit, smoke cigarettes and just be generally unimpressed by everyone. And relax. You know that White Guilt that's plagued you all your life? Wave Goodbye. It's somebody else's guilt now.

Nobody said it'd be easy. Chump.

Friends, the naysayers are going to have a whole lot of things to say on this issue.(Things like "nay," for example.) These are people who think white people had their chance at coolness and blew it. They'll say we've been uncool for too long, that there's no way we could turn this around. They may even argue that our lack of coolness is due to some inherent genetic flaw. They'll say, in accordance with our biological makeup, we simply cannot be cool. And you know what I say to that?

Yes We Can. Yes We Can.

*[Full Disclosure: While the exact specifics of my race and heritage are still up in the air I am, for the purposes of this article, 'White.' Again, that is strictly for the sake of this article. Call me 'White' to my face, I dare you. See what happens. See what fucking happens.]

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Daniel O'Brien

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