The Colour of Ugly
by William Lower
With the exception of tiger lilies and the fruit that bears its name, orange is a colour that should really keep to itself. Orange is ugly.
Every few years, the fashion industry and trend setters of dubious origins spin the colour wheel of misfortune and pronounce the coming season’s dominate colour. It is inevitable that periodically the colour wheel comes to a pathetic and grinding halt on ugly orange. Like this year, for example. To make matters worse (which fashion people are prone to do; I give you bell-bottom pants if you don’t believe me), fashion leaders sometimes augment orange with neon thus requiring sunglasses when viewed. The fashion people see this as an opportunity because as luck would have it, many of them also market sunglasses. Even orange ones.
In the 1970’s, orange was a dominant colour. Not only were cars painted orange but even airplanes. If you fly in small airplanes such as the Cessna 1972, it is not unusual to find many still flying today that were manufactured in that dismally orange decade. Planes are judged not so much by their age but by their hours of flight. So why are there so many orange 172’s still around? Because they are so ugly no one wants to fly them and hence, they remain low time aircraft. And speaking of flying, look at the countries flying flags with orange in them. Been to Bhutan lately? How about Nigeria? Sure, I know Ireland has orange on their flag. But not because they wanted to. It’s just that the British used red, white and blue and the Irish could have nothing that resembled anything British. Germany has orange, too. But from a country that gave us Porsche, Mercedes Benz, Zeiss lenses, Leica cameras, Bauhaus design and Nina Hagen, we have to allow for some indiscretions. No one is perfect. Not even the Germans.
Fast food restaurants provide further evidence on the ugliness of orange. (Fast food restaurants prefer to be known as Quick Service Restaurants; a term only people in the industry use and only then because if they don’t and refer to themselves as ‘fast food’, they will be fired.) However, after consulting with behavioral psychologists and industrial interior designers, many fast food restaurants chose to have orange as a large colour component in their interior design. Why? Because studies show that people tend to eat more quickly and leave sooner when eating in a predominantly orange setting. The quicker people leave, the more people they can serve. Why do people leave so quickly? Because if the food doesn’t do it, the colour orange is enough to make them sick.
Speaking of sick, the Ontario’s, Ministry of Health (Canada) owns a small fleet of helicopters that serve as air ambulances. Not only are they orange, they are even called orange except they dropped the letter “a” and called themselves “Ornge”. Ask any fixed wing pilot how helicopters fly and they will tell you, “They are so ugly, the earth repels them.” Add the ugly colour orange and you have double duty ugly and a seriously airborne object.
On an even sicker, darker side of orange we have some notable examples, the most telling being a chemical weapon test marketed in the US Vietnam war. Did they call it ‘Agent Chartreuse’? ‘Agent Lavender’? No. It was Agent Orange. A nasty bit of business and thankfully not one that lasted.
What does a person do if they are born with orange hair? Do you see them referring to themselves as ‘orangeheads’? No. They call themselves ‘redheads’. Why? Because even the word ‘orange’ is ugly. Orange is not only ugly, it can be downright frightening. It is the predominant colour depicting Halloween in North America. And if you want to rot the teeth right out of your children’s gip, just stuff them with orange dye-coloured candy. That ought to do the trick. Or treat. “Ah!” you say, “If orange is so horrible why do companies make so much orange-coloured packaging, like Hershey’s Peanut Butter Cups?” The answer to that is simple marketing. Orange is so ugly, consumers are prone to ripping the packaging off as quickly as they can and hence, tend to eat the candy equally as fast. The faster they eat it, the sooner they will buy more. Duh. “That doesn’t explain Tide laundry detergent” you respond. “Proctor and Gamble sure knows what they’re doing.” Indeed they do. Orange is so ugly the box of soap practically jumps off the shelf (can you spell ‘sales’?). And once in someone’s household, where does the ugly box of orange Tide laundry detergent end up? In a cupboard or laundry room with the doors shut so no one has to look at it.
"Orange beach towels and beach toys for children!" you exclaim. "Why are they so popular? They’re associated with sunshine and fun!" Elementary dear Watson. People are predisposed to buying orange beach toys and towels precisely because orange is so ugly. If they get washed out to sea, who cares? You let those rip tides rip. And take this ugly orange towel with you.
Well, my little pumpkins, that pretty well sums my diatribe on orange. Now if you will excuse me, I am going to retire to the drawing room with my coffee and carrot cake.