Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Dylan Thomas and Tom Waits

Today I was idly thumbing my way through Uncut magazine when I happened upon this advert for HMV. It brings together three components that are meant to denote coolness: singer Tom Waits; photographer Anton Corbijn; and Welsh writer Dylan Thomas.

Although the information that Tom Waits (of whom I'm a big fan) has been inspired by the writings of Dylan Thomas is interesting, at the end of the proverbial, HMV are just trying to flog me their products aren't they. Thus, the advert itself, is fundamentally uncool.

Much has been written in recent times concerning notions of coolness, and its co-option by corporate business. Rebel Sell by Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter is a notable example. Adbusters, the culture jamming magazine, has also been pondering whether cool can be reconquered and reconstituted after years of being hijacked by big business.

In Wales we recently had to contend with the completely alien, and rather patronising, concept of 'Cool Cymru'. Of course, as any sane Welsh person will tell you, we are an heroically uncool nation. You will, however, always find the odd exception that proves the rule.