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What Did Green Ever Do to You?

Chris Lose • LD at LargeNovember 2020 • November 4, 2020

Illustration by John Sauer/johnsauer.com

“Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.” —Pedro Calderón de la Barca

As I’m in my bedroom during my 14-day quarantine, I’m staring at a baseball game. The most prominent color on my screen is green. When I watch football, soccer, golf or tennis, I’m looking at luscious green everywhere. It’s one of only three primary colors in RGB and yet we rarely use it raw. There are 20 shades of green that stimulate our senses and stir our primordial urges. So how come it gets used so sparingly outside of heavy metal shows like Rob Zombie? Green has to be the most underutilized color of the rainbow. We see it everywhere in nature. Unscientifically, I will claim that, behind blue, it is the second most abundant color on Earth. Trees are green, dollars are green, shamrocks are green, and my favorite color on the stoplight is green. With all of this positive feedback surrounding green, why do we avoid green like the plague in a live setting? Having seven months to reflect on little things like this, I think we can have a discussion about what green did to hurt our feelings and why it’s time to stop hating on green. Here are seven reasons to stomp on red, speed through yellow and embrace the green.

‡‡         The Grass is Greener

It is literally a saying as old as philosophy. The idea behind the “The grass is always greener” goes back to the poet Ovid (43 BC — 17 or 18 AD). In his “Art of Love” he wrote, “The harvest is always richer in another man’s field.” There are other proverbs with the same sentiment: “The apples on the other side of the wall are the sweetest,” “Our neighbor’s hen seems a goose,” and “Your pot broken seems better than my whole one.” These all have the idea of others having it better off, even if it’s not true. Green represents greener pastures. Green signifies optimism and hope. This is reason number one that we should all toss out our preconceived notions about green and let the 550nm wavelength fly.

‡‡         Green with Envy

Before penicillin, a pale (green) complexion was associated with fear, illness and grouchiness. But the Elizabethan and Jacobean ages changed all that. The origin of the idiom, ‘green with envy,’ is believed to come directly from the legendary William Shakespeare himself. In Othello, Iago warns: “Beware, my lord, of jealousy; it is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.” Shakespeare also described envy as the green sickness in Antony and Cleopatra. To be green means to want more. To want more is exactly what we want the crowd to feel. When we paint the audience green, we can subconsciously encourage them to want more.

‡‡         It’s Not Easy Being Green

Green also means to be new at something. As a description of people, green was first used to mean immature, raw or inexperienced in the sixteenth century. A green belly was a novice, a greenhead was an inexperienced young man, and a green goose was a young, innocent girl. More well known today, a greenhorn is a new arrival in the city from the country. We still use this on stage today to describe the inexperienced stagehand who can’t find the truss stretcher. These terms are rumored to come from the ripening of fruit. When a strawberry is still green, it’s not ready. In this case, green means new and fresh. Green signifies gullibility and curiosity. Green means that everything is left to be discovered. Let’s capitalize on this naivety and unfamiliarity.

‡‡         Green M&Ms are Sexy

Not so long ago, before Mars Candy turned M&M’s into fictional spokespeople, the green M&M was essentially the equivalent of candy Viagra. We all knew that the green M&Ms were sexy and could be used as an aphrodisiac at the school dance. We still don’t know why we thought that, but we did. Maybe it was clever marketing, but it worked. There was something about the color of the green ones that stood out in a bowl of muted browns and reds. Before 1995, when M&Ms replaced the tan candies with the blue candies, the green bits stood out from all the rest. I would be the kid to grab a germ-ridden handful of M&Ms from the bowl on my grandma’s coffee table, eat the green ones, and put the rest back in the bowl before going for another scoop. It didn’t make me any sexier, but it did help me grow man boobs. In a roundabout way, green is sexy. Let’s leave it at that.

‡‡         Green is the New Black

Green complements so many other colors. Congo and green is a powerhouse color combination. It is the best way to portray a dark place that still has liveliness. I use it whenever I want to go dark without forfeiting intensity. Green and magenta makes me curious. The contrast of the two colors makes me stop for a moment to think. It makes me wonder what I should be paying attention to. Is this a poppy magenta song or is this a gritty metal song? Surprise!! It’s both. Pop-punk bands like early No Doubt and Save Ferris come to mind when I think of magenta and green songs. Green and white makes me thing of Santa’s elves. I always imagine their socks when I see green and white beams. That’s something that I never thought I would write. Even in an article celebrating green, I have nothing nice to say about yellow and green. Unless you are at a John Deere festival, don’t do it. Speaking of color combos with a very specific purpose, let’s talk about holidays.

‡‡         Holidays Need Green

Red and green means Christmas. Outside of a Green Day concert, red and green are strictly reserved for Christmas. I have heard rumors that Howard Ungerleider has a brilliant way of using lasers and lighting to perfectly integrate red and green, but we are not him. Only Howard is Howard. Lasers have a way of being able to use all of the colors in a way that traditional lighting does not. We can only use red and green together after Thanksgiving and before New Year’s Eve. Halloween gets to use green to represent monsters. Easter times require the use of a pastel green. Never forget that St. Patrick’s Day requires green. Green means drinking, and drinking means better bar sales, and better bar sales means longer tours.

‡‡         Light Up the Green

There are some songs that specifically call for green. When the song calls for it by name, let the viridescence soar. If Lorde wants her entire song to be green, then give it to her and embrace the emerald glow. You can guarantee when Dropkick Murphys starts “The Green Fields of France,” you can bet that my color palette is limited to one environmentally friendly color. You cannot do a Snoop Dogg concert without lighting up the green. It’s time to let green out of the closet. Let’s decriminalize the green and break all of the rules.

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