The Use of the Stupid

“The use of the useless,” a Taoist philosopher once said. Ah, but there’s also the use of the stupid, and I don’t mean guys like dumb blondes and dumb friends they feel superior to. No, instead of looking for that logical finishing touch, how about adding something that makes no sense? (a) It’ll keep ’em guessing, and maybe they’ll think there’s gotta be some really smart reason, and folks who figure it will insist it’s something smart. Or: (b) It’ll just get people talking. Which is what you want if you’re looking for publicity. Intentionally or not, “mistakes” like “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should” or “lite” beer, or nebulous exaggerations like “made from the best stuff on Earth,”  make people stop and think about a product. When celebrities go bad, they get way more pub. Sure it’s not on purpose? Tragic heroes have to have their flaws or it wouldn’t be tragedy, they say. Don’t be so sure. Hamlet had it right: The flawed flaw, the flaw so subtle — indecision — makes for much more conversation than the obvious one like Othello’s jealousy. Van Gogh … the impressionists … Picasso … Regis Philbin … David Letterman … Mick Jagger … Cindy Crawford’s mole … Angelina Jolie’s pouty imperiousness … Garfield … Charlie Brown … The Simpsons … The Titanic … the backstories in almost every TV drama these days … somehow imperfection either fascinates us or makes us relate.  So-simple-they-sound-silly names like Google and YouTube grab and captivate. So if you’re designing something creative (or trying to be someone who gets noticed) consider adding a fl aw. Call it the Flaw Law.

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