Cool is elusive. We all know that. Pursuing cool is difficult because true cool is only achieved by fearlessness without purpose. Arnold Schwarzenegger action movies are not cool; they are loud and stupid and enjoyable at times, but not cool because they are designed to make Arnold look cooler, and as such fail. Chow Yun-Fat action movies, in comparison, are cool, because Chow Yun-Fat is utterly willing to do something that potentially can make him look like a horse’s ass in just about any movie he’s in – and because he does it, with elan and style, he becomes even cooler.
(Or, to put it another way: no way does Arnold Schwarzenegger let a baby piss on him to put out a fire on his leg in the climactic action scene of Hard Boiled.)
However, even people who are honest-to-god cool have their limits. There are activities which can be performed that, unfortunately, will remove coolness. It does not matter a whit how devil-may care or suave you may be: do these things, and you will lose cool points. There is no moral dimension to these sorts of activities, either. (If Ralph Fiennes could make participating in genocide compelling in Schindler’s List… well, you get the point.)
The foremost of these is, of course, drinking from a juicebox.
Drinking from a juicebox has become cultural code for “young” and thus by extension also “callow” and “naive.” And that is the most generous interpretation one can manage. If you want a less generous interpretation, consider that on recent episodes of 30 Rock, we were introduced to Kathy Geiss, the presumably mentally challenged niece of hardass executive Don Geiss (played by Rip Torn, who defines hardass), by seeing her drinking from a juicebox.
Herein lies the problem with drinking from a juicebox: it doesn’t matter that tetrapaks are more ecologically friendly than bottles or cans, it doesn’t matter that juice is better for you than pop. Kids drink from juiceboxes. We consider the abandonment of the juicebox to be a rite of passage into adulthood, and resist the idea of it being suitable for non-youthful things.
Indeed, one might argue that the youthful connotations associated with the juicebox have slowed the rate of acceptance of tetrapak technology into other areas of the beverage industry – tetrapaks are particularly appropriate for wine storage, but only recently have wineries even begun to adopt the technology, and if you don’t think it’s because the tetrapaks look like “oversized drinking boxes,” you’re fooling yourself.
But I’m getting away from my main point, which is that juiceboxes are really dorky in a way that’s just about completely unstoppable. You can’t redeem the juicebox by having a cool hardbitten character drink from a juicebox – your cool, hardbitten character will just become “quirky” (which is Hollywood for “gay but we’re not admitting it”). The juicebox is just about unstoppable as a character killer.
“But Chris,” you say, “these cute Photoshops are funny and all, but action heroes aren’t going to drink from juiceboxes anyway, so what’s the big deal?” And you have a point there, so let me retaliate with the H-bomb of anti-juicebox arguments.
How sexy is Lloyd Dobler now, eh? Eh?