Today sees the UK release of The Emoji Movie – a film described by the New York Times as “nakedly idiotic” and that briefly held a score of 0% on the reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. If that’s not enough, legendary actor Patrick Stewart provides the voice of an animated pile of excrement.
My views on films have been well-documented, and are generally not respected by many, so it’s perhaps not surprising that I’m quite looking forward to seeing this highly topical CGI film. Aside from anything else, the very fact that emojis have been chosen for a $50m-budget film is a reminder of how prominent the Japanese symbols have become in popular culture and the way we communicate.
In celebration of their impact, and the release of this seemingly wretched film, here are some facts you can impress your emoji-loving friends with:
1. They’re the UK’s fastest growing language
In 2015, a Bangor University professor Vyv Edwards claimed that emojis are evolving and becoming understood more quickly than any other form of communication ever known, and were the fastest growing language in the country.
Indeed, at the recent SAScon event, TBC Global’s Jon Burkhart claimed that emojis are now the most widely understood language in the world, since they can be used to forge communication between two people who use a completely different set of vocabulary.
2. You can Google an emoji
Try it – instead of going to the trouble of typing ‘dog’, ‘cat’ or ‘watermelon’, just feed an emoji into Google instead and you’ll be presented with appropriate results.
This feature has been available for just over a year now, and can actually have a purpose beyond novelty value, such as if you stumble across one of the flag emojis and want to know what country it represents.
3. They can help emails get opened
A study by information services giant Experian has found that 56% of brands analysed achieved a higher email open rate by including emojis in their subject lines. Perhaps they speak louder than words in our inboxes?
4. A surprising number of celebrities have emoji tattoos
Just last month, Barcelona forward Neymar (who may well have joined Paris Saint Germain by the time you read this) got the back of his legs inked with a pair of emoji tattoos. He joins the likes of singer Miley Cyrus and basketball legend Dennis Rodman in having body art based on the iconic symbols.
5. Experts say teachers should be using them
It won’t go down well with education purists, but some experts say the use of emojis in class could help kids build language skills.
It’s Vyv Edwards of Bangor University again who is making these claims, stressing that emojis should not be “pooh-poohed”. Patrick Stewart may disagree!
6. ‘Crying with laughter’ is the UK’s favourite emoji.
In 2016, more Brits used the face crying tears of joy emoji than any other. Face-themed emojis dominated the top 10, with the red heart and thumbs up also making the list.
7. The word ‘emoji’ has no connection to the word ‘emotion’
With emojis often used to convey feelings, many people assume this is the reason for the ‘emo’ part of their name. However, their name is actually a portmanteau of the Japanese words ‘e’ (picture) and ‘moji’ (character), so the appearance of the English ‘emo-’ prefix is just a coincidence.
It seems like most critics’ views of The Emoji Movie can be summed up by Patrick Stewart’s character, but it looks likely that the emoji language itself will keep us crying tears of joy for many years to come.