Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

If Angelina Jolie and Madonna are uncool to their kids what hope have we?

Child's derision: Angelina Jolie can't beat son Maddox at computer games

For any cutting-edge dudes under 25 reading this, I'll let you into a secret. One day you will be middle-aged and uncool. Yes, you will. And it'll probably happen suddenly, shocking your system like an electric jolt.

You might be sitting on the sofa in fake Ugg slippers and thermal socks, hugging a hot water bottle, watching A History of Cathedrals and realise it's Saturday night and you just got paid. You might be half-way through a sentence – perhaps something like "The great thing about Nick Knowles..." – and it will hit you. You've turned into someone your younger self would have scathingly written off as a square.

You'll panic. You'll grab the nearest Google-supporting device to check who's at number one. You'll delete the i-Pad history which shows the last thing you did was compare scatter cushions (butterflies or owls?) You'll make a Mojito and burn your onesie. But it will all be in vain. In fact you'll make it even worse because, as recent research among 13 to 25-year-olds says, there's nothing more uncool than a middle-aged person trying to look cool.

The unavoidable and inconvenient truth exposed by this research is that parenthood is the death-knell of cool. According to the survey, not being able to use an iPhone, driving a sensible car, not knowing what twerking is, or the names of all of One Direction – these are some of the clearest signs that you are an embarrassing parent. But even if you pass all these tests (and not that it matters but I, like, totally do), just the fact of your existence as a younger person's life-giver tags you as having negative kudos, at least in your offspring's eyes. There are, it seems, no exceptions to this.

I wonder how Madonna felt when her 16-year-old daughter Lourdes, asked her not to come to a gala night at New York's Lincoln Centre recently. It must be weird after decades of every event manager in America begging you to show your face at their gig, to suddenly have this cheeky kid who is almost 40 years your junior, begging you not to spoil her street cred by showing up.

Angelina Jolie will understand. Her children, she says resignedly, regard her as a 'dumbass who's no good at computers'. Angelina Jolie – I mean, come on! What hope for the rest of us? None, says the beautiful and philanthropical one. "A mum can't be cool from her kid's point of view. Maddox, our oldest, beats me at every video game and is totally disappointed in me. I hope he will watch my films one day, then maybe he'll see his mum isn't totally stupid."

John Peel once warned me of this, when I was too young and blasé to believe he knew what he was talking about. The man who used to hang out with John Lennon and Marc Bolan, who Jack White revered and who Polly Harvey blushed with admiration upon meeting (I witnessed this) told me his kids laughed at his 'Luddite' battles with technology and poked fun at his fogey-ness every day.

How would the hundreds of kids who wrote to tell him they wished he was their dad feel about that?

The one good thing about this is that as parents, we have a kind of reverse-Midas power to make anything uncool just by touching it. Facebook is suffering cred-pangs now that many parents are on there asking to 'friend' their children. Maybe we should start espousing the joy of internet porn and full body tattoos next. 'Wonder how Madonna felt when her daughter asked her not to come to a gala night in New York recently?'

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