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The Emoji Story: You should never have so much fun learning about Unicode

The trailer for The emoji story.

It’s a shame that the 2017s The emoji movie exists – though, by all means get the money, Patrick Stewart (in the role of “Poop”) and Maya Rudolph (“Smiler”

;). It’s just … the animated cash grab smeared a perfectly good title for a superior emoji dissertation that would only be followed two years later: the Tribeca Film Festival-chosen documentary in 2019 Picture character.

Maybe you can (maybe) recognizes this film today as The emoji story, when it was acquired by the production company Utopia in December 2020 before the name was changed and eventually became available on most VOD platforms. But this comprehensive look at the world of 1182 unique emoji (and counting) first crept onto our radar in the south of Southwest 2019. Emoji activist and dumpling emoji (🥟) creator Jennifer 8. Lee introduced on the newly adopted “interracial couple” “emoji (which she helped shepherd to reality with partners on Tinder) and mentioned that she had produced an upcoming project. Lee’s panel essentially demystified the invisible emoji creation and approval process for a small conference room in the Austin Convention Center, and her film was intended to do the same for a much wider audience.

“It’s a bit of a maze and takes a very long time – usually between 18-24 months – from when you have an idea and when it hits your iPhone,” Lee said under the SXSW panel. She wanted to know. In addition to her successful dumpling campaign, Lee is one of the leaders of EmojiNation, a group that set out to diversify emoji after learning firsthand how limited the selection process can be. After all, the emojis that now pay off on our smart devices and social media are approved by the smallest, 12-person selection committee consisting of older tech representatives from large companies (Netflix, Google, Oracle, IBM, Apple, Facebook, Adobe, Microsoft, Shopify) along with a few unexpected guests (German software company SAP, the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei and the government of Oman). Each organization pays tens of thousands a year for the privilege of having someone vote yes or no on everything from “buddy” (a regular Argentine drink) to “anglefish”. Lee eventually joined the Unicode subcommittee on emoji (a non-voting role open to anyone with a $ 75 / year Unicode membership) to better learn the emoji process and review submissions.

“And see [the Unicode committee who approves everything], this sucks completely, “Lee recalls at SXSW 2019.” But they were happy to see me there because random people do not show up at this meeting. It felt like appearing in a new church with many older, friendly white people. ”

All of this is to say that you could not ask for a more qualified team to put together a definitive emoji movie. And The emoji story live up to the pedigree and then some.

It’s a doctor, but also an underdog story

Watch enough documentaries, and over time you can not help but notice that there is a basic formula: cover the big lines in the subject’s history. Highlight the biggest annual events. Find a few current participants (ideally convincing) to follow as they go through a journey, be it a professional process, a competition or a change needed to modernize in this rapidly evolving area. It is a framework you can apply to everything, from people who regularly handle nutria, to taxidermists.

The world of emoji includes all of these components, however The emoji story do not silo these stiff documentary puzzle pieces as many smaller movies do. Instead, this movie seamlessly weaves all this related but distinct information together, leading to some nice footage. For a moment, a linguist can explain the evolution of emoji chains as a way to communicate more specific ideas. But instead of staying with academics to build on another esoteric aspect of emoji judgment, The emoji story it follows up with a film production card that communicates the next topic to you in an emoji necklace. Small moments and sequences like this show that the team behind this film is not just thinking about the subject; they think about how they should also engage an audience through film.

One of the film’s strengths in this regard is its selection of “today’s participants to follow through a journey.” The film was in production around 2017-2018, and every year Unicode sees hundreds of proposals, but limits the approval to 60 new additions, max. The emoji story chronicles three such hopefuls: a teenager hoping to see himself in group chats soon via a hijab emoji; two Argentine women who are obsessed with buddy and want to (digitally) take it globally; and a British public health organization looking to make a period emoji.

From the start, this selection shows a large selection of possible concepts and creators that send to Unicode annually. Anyone can submit a proposal as long as the idea only meets some basic criteria, such as having clear popularity or multiple uses, while not being a specific public person or brand and avoiding redundancy with an existing emoji. But as these people use their varying degrees of resources and prepare to travel to Palo Alto to make their final personal places, you can not help but feel that they are all underdogs, given the number game that works against them. In this way, The emoji story Ask for the same kind of propulsive emotional investment you get from a well-executed sports film (whether it is Major League or The Queen’s Gambit); it’s just teaching you something at the same time.

And to be clear, the overall theme is far more fascinating than many people think. The emoji story traces the unorthodox lineage of this modern language, discusses both its unique strengths and limits, and explores what the future of emoji acceptance can and should be (a society after Unicode can come, everyone). I personally looked through a dozen or so emoji suggestions and thought for a long time if I could come up with a concept worthy of submission after seeing Lee’s presentation in 2019, and The emoji story just revived this rainy day dream. It will probably have the same effect on many viewers, so it’s nice that this film manages to both learn and entertain as it subconsciously (🧠) plants (🪴) the seeds (🌱) for inspiration (💡).

The emoji story is available for rent or purchase on most VOD platforms, including Apple TV, Amazon Prime and Vudu.

Entry image of The Emoji Story

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