The Emoji Movie: What It Says About Children’s Entertainment Today
By Haley Giancaspro
I have a lot to say about The Emoji Movie, and none of it is very good. I suppose I should start with the plot. The Emoji Movie takes place in a fantastical world where everyone has a role to fulfill. If they don’t fulfill that role, they’re seen as outcasts by their peers. Our hero is a plucky, down-on-his-luck loser who just isn’t satisfied with the role he’s in. He goes on a journey of self-discovery with his spunky female friend who’s totally not like other girls, and his comic relief sidekick that exists solely to crack stupid jokes and being the movie mascot. By the end of his journey, our hero finds the freedom to be himself and changes the way everyone else thinks about the society they live in.
Sound familiar? It will if you’ve seen Wreck-It Ralph. Or The LEGO Movie. Or Shark Tale. Or hundreds of other children’s movies with the exact same plot that have come out for the past 15 years or so. The Emoji Movie (Or, as I lovingly call it, The Emoji Mistake) is stock plot with stock characters and stock humor. No twists on the formula, no characters we could see as being real people, and no clever writing or humor to make up for it. And to me, this movie symbolizes everything wrong with the “It’s for kids” mentality that plagues children’s media as a whole.
The biggest problem I see with The Emoji Movie, and with most of today’s entertainment geared towards children, is the attitude they seem to have towards its audience: In the eyes of media corporations, children are nothing more than brainless, merchandise-greedy drones that will happily accept anything given to them so long as it has bright colors and lots of fast “Lol random!” humor.
I shouldn’t have to say this, but that’s not the case. Children are not brainless, and they will not accept anything given to them. Children are capable of understanding so much more than the media gives them credit for, provided it’s explained in a way they’ll understand. Sure, they may laugh at some silly jokes or beg their parents for that new Adventure Time toy, but ultimately they know better and deserve better.
And to the credit of some shows, the idea of children being smarter and deserving better entertainment is catching on. Thanks to more lax censorship standards, shows and movies like Avatar: The Last Airbender, Inside Out, Moana, and Adventure Time deal with issues that even adult shows can have trouble tackling, without sugarcoating or dumbing down the message for children. Because of this leap in quality, people began to raise their standards, and many now expect more out of their entertainment. When you make a product in order to appeal to a specific demographic, you are saying “this is what this audience deserves”.
When you tell a tale of a world whose nations are divided by war whose only hope is a young boy who controls the elements, you say “Children are intelligent and enjoy interesting ideas, and they deserve something equally intelligent and interesting.” When you spend 90 minutes telling a bland, generic story with bland, generic characters (one of whom is named Poop Daddy), you are really saying, “Children are stupid and will enjoy literally anything we put in front of them, and they deserve something stupid and lazily written.”
Now, am I expecting every piece of media ever made to be an absolute masterpiece? Do I expect every single movie or cartoon or video game to be on par with Citizen Kane, To Kill A Mockingbird, or Shadow of the Colossus? Of course not. But what I am expecting is effort.
Shows like Ed Edd and Eddy or The Amazing World of Gumball don’t have epic, in-depth stories to tell. They’re focused primarily on comedy. But the writers put a lot of effort into making sure every joke hit it’s mark, voice actors worked to make sure every inflection of their voice perfectly captured the sadness or silliness or confusion their line needed, and animators made sure every frame on screen accentuated whatever emotion they wanted to get across.
We still look back fondly on the media that displays this kind of effort, from Ducktales to Batman. History is not going to look back kindly on The Emoji Movie. When all’s said and done, the only thing that makes it stand out is the fact that it has emojis in it. Once emojis are no longer “hip with the kids”, the movie will simply fade into obscurity. Sadly, we still have kids cartoons that are focused more on being popular and selling merchandise rather than striving for any sort of quality (Boss Baby, Minions, Teen Titans Go, etc.), a practice that I thought was left back in the 80s.
As someone who loves animation with all her heart, I hate seeing this happen. Just as people begin to see animation as a beautiful, serious art form that deserves respect, we get another sub-par kid’s movie that puts us back at square one. I sincerely hope we start getting more Avatars, and fewer Emoji Movies. Otherwise, we may soon be seeing a trailer for “Fidget Spinners: The Movie.”
Music in Review
By Modupe Aladegbemi
Song: “The Weekend”
“The Weekend,” by SZA, is an eccentric and vibrant song that everyone from teenagers to young adults to full-grown adults can relate to—about being being in a relationship. SZA’s popularity has skyrocketed ever since she released her debut album, CTRL. One of her songs in this eccentric album that should’ve been a single due to its significance is “The Weekend”.
This song gives an inside look at the life of a woman who shares a man with another woman. Some people have interpreted the song’s lyrics to be about dating a taken man on the weekend and allowing his girlfriend to have him for the rest of the time. However, many fans of SZA believe the song as a poem to willingly be a man’s “side chick”.
Overall, “The Weekend” makes women realize that they are better than what they seem to believe. She’s a woman who is aware of the other woman, but is comfortable with it because she benefits from a weekend relationship and doesn’t have the need for more. Society can no longer shame SZA for being a “side chick” because that’s all she wants from this relationship. She reclaims the word, “side chick,” as other communities have done with derogatory words meant to oppress.
You say you got a girl How you want me? How you want me when you got a girl?
My man is my man is your man Heard it’s her man too