February 2, 2012

OK No, OK Go: Stop With The Primary Color Misinformation.

"When you're seeing any other color, they're all made up of red, yellow and blue"?

No, OK Go, no they are not.

If They Might Be Giants can embrace the progress of Science, recognize the error of their original version's lyrics and change "The Sun Is A Mass Of Incandescent Gas" to "The Sun Is A Miasma Of Incandescent Plasma," then Sesame Street can certainly correct this OK Go video's centuries-out-of-date misconceptions about color theory, material trichromacy, and the differences between additive and subtractive color mixing.

Obviously, given the persistence of the RYB Color Model and its centrality to the song and the video, I think we can assume a switch to RGB, or cyan, magenta and yellow is out of the question. So the simplest fix is will have to do:

Sesame Workshop needs to pull a couple of people off their Abby Cadabby merchandise research projects, lock them in the room with a lyricist, and give them a week to figure out the scientifically accurate way to change "any" to "many."

Hop to, Muppets, every additional YouTube view is a kid being lied to. By you.

Sesame Street | OK Go - Three Primary Colors [youtube]
RYB Color Model [wikipedia]
Previously: Actually, the sun is NOT a mass of incandescent gas

8 Comments

It's the primary colors of pigment. Which is the color mixing most children do.

[very true, but that doesn't make the statement any less false. -ed.]

I'm sure Sesame Workshop will fix this one right after Eric Carle quits with the rationalizations and reprints every damn copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar to be entomologically correct.

I agree Tim. Majority of kids are mixing paint, not light! Let's enjoy it & hope the kids enjoy this basic colour theory lesson. I had secondary students (age 14/15) in my class who would start the year not knowing these basic rules. So let the preschoolers soak it up while it's still fun : )

Greg, I really like your idea of teaching kids in an open minded way, but don't you agree you have to start with something easy before getting into color wheels, theory and stuff? Sesame Street ist made for the little ones, isn't it? :)
Btw: My attorney will charge OK Go c/o Sesame Street for not mentioning hue and saturation.

The problem really isn't RYB, and the solution isn't going deeper. They can keep it simple, and use RYB to demonstrate the mixing concept all they want.

But what is wrong, scientifically incorrect, is claim that RYB mixing can produce all colors. Because it's been known for at least a couple hundred years that they can't.

If it weren't Sesame Street, it wouldn't matter; I mean, it's not like the Wiggles make any claim to educational purpose with their dinosaurs and cavemen cartoon. Who knows, maybe they're all biblical literalist creationists.

Josef Albers for toddlers? That's how my wife rolls.

I think Greg's got it right. RYB are imperfect primaries for pigments. Cyan, magenta, and yellow are better, but it's still impossible in practice to produce all visible colors that way.

And anyway, that's all fun if you're mixing things, but I think it's even nicer to learn about opponent theory... maybe get the kids reading a little Goethe....

move over, Little Einstein

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