This summer, a very small council of people you've never heard of will make a very large pop-cultural impact when they release dozens of new emoji. But this crop of tiny phone art had to be narrowed down from a much larger bunch, which means we're likely missing out on what would've been some amazing specimens.
Our lovable eggplants and "100" signs don't materialize out of nowhere—long before they ever appear in your messages, an international technical consortium called Unicode meticulously assesses and selects each new character. It's an esoteric committee that's responsible for virtually all of the letters and characters you see on all of the screens you view and carry. It's also found itself bowled over by the popularity of emojis—for decades, few really noticed or cared which letters got which diacritical marks, or whether the Shwe Palaung language would show up properly on a website.
Emoji have found a life way outside of phones and computers; they're used in breakups, crimes, shirts, and millions of throwaway conversations around the world. For an entire generation, it's hard to imagine casual conversation without these little cartoon blips. I just texted my mom an emoji of the French flag. I don't know why but it felt right, and we're both glad I did.
This is a lot of pressure for Unicode, whose mere three full-time employees have to deal with the new reality that millions upon millions of spastic tweens and other entitled consumers use this smartphone vernacular. So although class of 2015 emoji expansion will bring some long overdue additions—black people!—it'll also make some tough cuts in what is truly an impossible-to-please-everyone situation.
But man, we're really missing out on that hoagie emoji. That, and about a dozen other top-tier would-be emoji choices that were slashed before the unveiling of Unicode's 8.0 emoji set, whittled down from about 80 to a little over 40.
Lost in the deliberation process are the following gems, recreated from Unicode's public records by Gawker illustrator Sam Woolley for your enjoyment and longing:
The "Anonymous Magenta Woman" emoji series is perhaps the most evocative and sophisticated of the whole bunch. The only way it could've better capture the modern condition is with this emoji. We would have used you daily.
Face palm's natural counterpart is "shrug," which Unicode itself says is a nod to the now-ubiquitous ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ emoticon. Now that ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ has been popularized and ruined, we could have really, really used a ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ emoji.
The baguette emoji would've been useful for the exact same reason the eggplant is so useful.
Consider this: the 8.0 emoji update will include new foods like popcorn, burrito, taco, and—hell yeah—a wedge of cheese. But the omission of the proposed hoagie emoji is a true shame, not just because hoagies are a delicacy of the western world, but for the same reason we need that baguette.
The preggers emoji would have, as Unicode pointed out in its notes, completed the set of family emoji like baby and parents. You don't get a baby without a pregnant woman, and you don't get a damn baby emoji without a pregnant emoji. Open your eyes.
The takeout container is iconic not just of takeout foot, but of a certain set of personal choices—you've chosen to give up for the night, and will be sitting on your couch eating out of a box by yourself. It'd be great to convey the Ahh, fuck it, I'm staying in mindset with a single tap. Or, maybe you just want Chinese.
Stop sign—the anti-100. How many times do you just need someone to fucking STOP? Throw a sign at 'em. Or not, because the best we'll have is the yield sign.
Selfie is an annoying word to say, and it's even worse to write. Better to replace it altogether with an emoji—perfect for when you want to see someone's face but don't want to say "send me a selfie."
Avocados are delicious, nutritious, and very "in" right now. So why did Unicode decide against the avocado?
The arm flex emoji has become a figurative dynamo—but what about lower body strength? Legs are the pillars of the species, our foot-movers, a gradually widening belt of muscle. Sometimes hairy, sometimes not—would the leg emoji have been hairy? We won't know.
With the recession behind us, we'll all start wearing tuxedos again; at least that was the promise of "tuxedo," before it was discarded with other wardrobe emoji like "hijab" and "cap with bill."
Maybe the hardest lost emoji to let go of, "cucumber or pickle." Come on.
The other discarded emoji are as follows:
- "Fingers crossed" gesture
- Sandwich wrap
- Green salad
- Eggs (unbroken)
- T-Rex head
Maybe some of those would've been more meaningful to you than the ones we've recreated—who the hell knows! Unicode relies on a slow, deeply formal system of public comment and private deliberation when deciding which emoji to release to the public, and they don't provide any concrete explanation for why certain ones made it while others did not. (And how could they?) Many of the emoji in the new group were selected after being cooked up by publications like BuzzFeed, Business Insider, and New York magazine, according to Unicode documentation. They're listening. Us ordinary folk are welcome to submit our own formal emoji proposals, but they're subject to a bevy of "selection factors."
So we're not getting everything we want, or even everything we need, to express every pictograph twitch that crackles from head to fingertip. There are just too many of us; how do we represent everything everyone cares about in a way that anyone can understand? We can't, but that won't stop us from wishing and dreaming and hopeful emoji-ing. But god damnit, the fact that the eggplant is our only phallic stand-in is just downright unsustainable.
Illustrations by Sam Woolley