The viral singularity that was The Dress had a predecessor — Han Solo’s jacket.
In the Star Wars fan community, a color-based debate similar to The Dress has been raging for years. Apparently, in the image above (and throughout The Empire Strikes Back‘s Hoth scenes), some people see Han’s jacket as brown and some as navy blue. I’ve already had an argument in the office about it. I see the jacket as navy blue, bewildered by people who think otherwise.
When Hasbro released their Hoth Han Solo action figure, even they acknowledged the debate, and released a figure of each color to satisfy buyers:
Sorry navy blue brethren, but we are wrong. According to a clip from the Digital HD release of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones obtained by Collider, the original jacket is indeed brown. It always was brown.
But many of us will still see navy blue when we look at this Hoth outfit, so what’s going on here? Here’s a hint: pay attention to the backgrounds.
Like The Dress, the color of Han’s jacket seems to change depending on the lighting around him. What makes it flip is called “color constancy,” and it’s crucial to how we interpret color. We have certain mental models of what colors should look like depending on lighting and shadow, and colors can and will look different to us depending on how our brains interpret the environment the color is in. Color constancy is the same reason why all these optical illusions work.
The color of Han’s jacket in Empire seems to hit a perfectly ambiguous mark with the context it was filmed in, making everything come down to individual differences in visual perception. So, everyone is kind of right. Except that it’s really brown. #NavyBlue