On June 29, 2017

Feeling blue

By Brett Yates

There’s a moment in the overrated sci-fi movie “Ex Machina” where the robot, whose programming allows her to discern unfailingly when someone isn’t telling the truth, is interviewing the protagonist. The first question: “What’s your favorite color?”

The protagonist replies that it’s red, but the robot rejects this response, deeming it a lie. The protagonist pauses to reevaluate: “I guess, seeing as I’m not six, I don’t really have a favorite color,” he eventually says. This, apparently, is the right answer.
Personally, I don’t think there’s anything childish about having a favorite color. In fact, I’ll say it right now: the best color is blue. When someone asks you what your favorite color is, the answer should be blue. It’s one of those opinions that are really more like facts, like how McDonald’s fries are better than Burger King’s.

Blue is the most soulful and expressive color. It’s superficially the most attractive, but it also has the profoundest depths. When you think about it, the other two primary colors — red and yellow — are basically interchangeable. The earth would be fine with just one or the other. On the other hand, blue occupies its own dimension.

The secondary and tertiary colors, meanwhile, are kind of fun and add a bit of variety to things, but the emotional resonance just isn’t there. Picasso must have known this; that’s why he had his Blue Period. Yves Klein figured it out, too: his monochrome paintings were unsuccessful with the public until he left the other colors behind. Ultimately, he invented his own shade of ultramarine and held a show consisting solely of 11 uniform blue canvases, and it was a hit. His artistic immortality was secured.

Filmmakers from David Lynch (“Blue Velvet”) to Derek Cianfrance (“Blue Valentine”) to Abdellatif Kechiche (“Blue Is the Warmest Color”) all get it. Miles Davis (“Kind of Blue”) got it. Eiffel 65 (“Blue”) got it. Blue is the only color that defines a musical genre; it’s the only color you can feel.

In nature, blue is both rare and ever-present. Blue doesn’t grow on trees—offhand, I can’t think of a single blue-colored food besides blueberries. Absent amid the greens, browns, and grays of our forests and fields, it’s still there whenever we look up. It’s the sky and the sea—it belongs to the huge, amorphous things. We don’t get to hold it in our hands; it’s an abstraction, a dream.

The only real issue with blue, I think, is the way it’s been gendered: blue for boys, pink for girls. It’s hard to come up with a stronger example of society’s pervasive misogyny than its choice to hand over the most serious and meaningful of all colors to boys while assigning a triviality like pink to girls. I dream of a future in which the pleasures of blue are available to be enjoyed by all children, regardless of sex, race, nationality, class, or creed.

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