The other day I came across a video snippet of some Star Wars themed video game where the characters were dancing.
Star Wars characters. Dancing.
What. The. Fuck.
It actually made me feel embarrassed. I couldn’t believe that Star Wars, a staple of my youth – indeed, very much a part of who I was – was relegated to some cheap choreographed video game developed solely to market some new piece of hardware.
Needless to say, I was pretty pissed. My mind was racing. And then something flashed through my mind. A t-shirt, with a silhouette of Vader on it, in some Saturday Night Fever-esque pose under a disco ball. I thought that t-shirt would be pretty sweet.
That brought me up short. What the holy hell? Why did I find the video game offensive yet the t-shirt idea awesome? The ideas were fairly similar in concept. There had to be a reason. I’m usually not that arbitrary.
I realized that it’s the same reason I couldn’t stand the prequels. The same reason why I hated Prometheus, and most movies that come out these days: they don’t leave anything to the imagination. It’s the same reason why songs with simple chord changes and choruses are so popular.
The audience of any art form likes to participate. They like to be a part of the experience, to contribute. In music, it’s with the only instrument many people have available: their voice. So how do you make it easy for somebody to contribute with their voice? Make the chorus memorable. Make it easy to sing.
Back to the t-shirt vs game thing, I realized it’s because that one still image did something that the video game couldn’t: It sparked my imagination.
This applies to any medium. Painting, movies, music, design. You name it. Just enough to communicate, but little enough to allow your audience to become part of the experience.
Don’t beat them over the head with it.