I am posting a comment from John Brown
Paul, Thank you for your piece. Allow me to speculate: American "coolness" is a late 20th/early 21st century version of Old World European "culture" (with a capital "K") when the continent's political, economic, and military power began to decline. As for those who maintain that the "cool" American popular culture will continue to dominate in our new century, please consider my "Is the U.S. High Noon Over? Reflections on the Declining Global Influence of American Popular Culture" which I wrote some years ago. Best, John.
P.S. As for the pix that accompanies the article you cite, to me it suggests that Americans, far from being "cool," appear to be absolute clowns. I would have chosen another photograph, as for example of Miles Davis...John's piece on the decline of American popular culture is quite excellent and deserves a read. I was thinking about all this at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Portrait Gallery yesterday when I saw two quotes that made me think about such business.
"American Jazz, Hollywood movies, American slang, American machines and patents are the only thing that every community in the world, from Zanzibar to Hamburg, recognizes in common." - Henry Luce, 1941But perhaps that newness has indeed worn off as John points out in his article, and there are far more actors plying and playing out their cultural diplomacy and softpower. That was then, perhaps this is now:
"When I first went to China in 1996, I'd say 'I'm from Korea,' and I would get a disinterested response. Now, I go to China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore and people look at my name and say, 'You're Korean! We love your soap operas, your films.'" -Min Jung Kim, 2008