When Fashion Week rolls into town, so do platoons of oversize-sunglasses wearing peacocks in odd outfits and tethered to their smartphones. Doing what, exactly? Good question. To capitalize on this endless traffic in mindless fashion chatter, Harper's Bazaar teamed up with London's Crush Creative to create some fun fashion emojis including a black pump, red-lipsticked lips, a bottle of green juice, leopard-print sunglasses, a little red dress, a stack of pastel-pretty macarons, a chill pill, an SUV & best of all, Kaiser Karl and his cat, Choupette. Duck Face is good, as is Cat Eye, a black moto jacket (biker babe) an Umbrella (rain check) and a pair of Olsen-bots (twinsies).
While fun, are these emojis - the Japanese version of emoticons - yet another sign of the decline of civilization or an added layer of richness in the way we communicate? I would argue the latter. With pure text, irony fails to translate the way it does in speech, when you have the benefit of being able to intone words and phrases to color them with meaning to provide context. Emojis began life in the early 80s in the message boards of Carnegie Mellon's computer science department as a way to label posts that were jokey - with a :-) - and those that werent, a :-(. As with any component of a living language, their original intent was co-opted by users, who quickly turned the frowny emoticon from just a label into a way of conveying displeasure, anger or frustration. Wherever you happen to live. "Emoticons, smiley faces and other shapes and symbols have the advantage of being, for the most part, universal," opines an interesting piece in the Elizabethtown College Etownian. "The feelings and emotions associated with emoticons are understood across different cultures and languages." And they have the advantage of summarizing a gazillion words in a single image. "In some cases, a single emoticon can add complete context to a statement and summarize what otherwise would have lengthy wording."
And while some emoji-snobs frown on the pictorial form emos have taken - starting with the yellow or green circles with the faces and now, these much more sophisticated fashion emojis, I would argue they are kind of a godsend. Why? With Internet Rage already at a flash point (just post something, anything, on YouTube and wait 5 minutes....) any little thing that lets people know you're not jonesing for a fist fight or an expletive-laden SHOUTING MATCH is a small victory for world peace.
Here is the podcast I recorded - Episode 71: Emojis Go High Fashion
Music: Kevin MacLeod, Incompetech.com
- Lesley Scott