Childish things are more fun


An ode to childish

The image above is a rendering by BMW, made after an idea by Eli, a four year old kid. It was his idea to have a BMW with 42 wheels, all-wheel drive, powered by no less than 19 Porsche engines, and comes with a trunk full of toys in which you can play.

Eli did a great job at designing a car. BMW is not considering production, but Eli got rid of the canvas to think about cars freshly, in a childish way.

I for one think childish things deserve an ode, for they don’t have the good reputation they deserve.

See, for most, childish is wrong. Sometimes, we wish we could give in to it, and jump on a swing or play with LEGO – but often, it’s the fear of the judgement of peers that is holding us back. We’re often conservative in thinking, and afraid to share childish ideas with others. Meanwhile, kids know no embarrassment. Kids aren’t frightened of being wrong. If they don’t know something, they’ll have a go anyway.

Ken Robinson:
“Being wrong is not the same as being creative, but what we do know is that if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”

And that’s the thing. Everybody wants to feel secure – but in any creative industry, when you’re creating anything truly new, there’s no frame of reference, and you’re bound to encounter some insecurity (probably a lot).

Ken Robinson, again:
“We don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it.”

And Picasso once said;
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

I’m not advocating childishism as if we should all run around and play with LEGO all day (although, I’d be extremely curious to what you’d all make). No. But as Aristotles said, it’s all about the balance. And I for one think most adults should be a bit more childish, and invite some notion of play.

Colonel Kurtz, in the 1979 war film Apocalypse Now, said;
“Have you ever considered any real freedoms? Freedoms from the opinion of others… even the opinions of yourself?”

Kids aren’t just free of the opinions – they’re also unaware of how things should be done, which means they’ll try to find a way themselves. In similar fashion, an inexperienced filmmaker called George Lucas started working on Star Wars, in 1971. Looking back today, it’s safe to say that Star Wars is the spaceship which launched a thousand clich├ęs, yet it achieved its success by being profoundly inexperienced, and thus profoundly original.

Do you know Caine and his arcade? A nine-year old boy, who build a whole arcade from cardboard inside his dad’s used auto part store. If you haven’t seen it, check out the video here.

And did you ever read a school project by any kid? They’re great copywriters. They notice different things, and can explain things wonderfully simple. In a report about prisons, a kid wrote; ‘Prisons are very boring and there are guards everywhere with a lot of keys. You don’t just get into prison like that, you have to do more than have a fight, but please do not; prisons aren’t a lot of fun.‘ Meanwhile, the politically-more-correct Merriam-Websterr describes it as ‘an institution (as one under state jurisdiction) for confinement of persons convicted of serious crimes‘.

Will Smith said:
“Being realistic is the most commonly travelled road to mediocrity.”

But more iconically is the ‘Stay Hungry. Stay foolish.’ quote. It’s made famous by the Stanford speech from Steve Jobs, but it was on the back cover of the final issue of the Whole Earth Catalog, in 1974.