OPIN­IONS

Tim Keen

Motor (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

Mor­ley on real off-road­ers; Keen gets all emoji; Bov­ing­don buys his first car

HOW CAN GEN-Z BE EX­PECTED TO FALL IN LOVE WITH CARS WHEN THE ONLY EMOJI LOOKS LIKE A 2009 HYUNDAI GETZ?

YOU AL­MOST CER­TAINLY read David Mor­ley’s sharp take­down of the per­ils of us­ing mo­bile phones in this very mag­a­zine a few months ago. And it’s true – Mor­ley only car­ries a mo­bile phone to use as a tiny mirror to do his fab­u­lous hair. But in fact mo­bile phones carry a se­cret in­sight into the at­ti­tudes and de­sires of the next gen­er­a­tion of tech users and, thus, car buy­ers – and frankly, it’s not good news for gear­heads.

I’m talk­ing about emo­jis. (In case Mor­ley’s read­ing this, an emoji is a tiny pic­togram that you send in a text mes­sage. And even there, I’m ex­pos­ing my­self as an old codger be­cause peo­ple un­der the age of 25 are about as likely to send a text mes­sage as they are to use a slide rule.)

The of­fi­cial Uni­code Stan­dard list of emo­jis is main­tained by the Uni­code Con­sor­tium, which is an or­gan­i­sa­tion in Moun­tain View, Cal­i­for­nia, cre­ated to give nerds some­thing to do in be­tween go­ing to Comic-Cons and whack­ing it to Sailor Moon porn. But also, they run all the emo­jis. There are 2666 emo­jis (cur­rently), which in it­self is proof that the ex­tinc­tion of the hu­man race re­ally can’t come soon enough.

Amongst those 2666 emo­jis, there are 17 dif­fer­ent types of hearts and 30 dif­fer­ent images of clocks, in­clud­ing two dif­fer­ent hour­glasses. There’s also four types of um­brella and three types of baby chick­ens.

But there are only two images of a car – one from the side, one from the front. There are more emo­jis of cake than there are of cars. There are twice as many emo­jis of stars. There are as many mer­maids as cars.

Look­ing on your phone right now? (Not you, Mor­ley, ev­ery­one else.) You might be scowl­ing that there are two cars – one red and one blue – but if you look at the of­fi­cial list, the red one is listed as “au­to­mo­bile” and the blue one is “sport util­ity ve­hi­cle”.

And that tells you pretty much ev­ery­thing you need to know about how Planet Emoji views cars. Peo­ple are very in­ter­ested in hearts, sushi, shoes, baby chick­ens and hour­glasses. They are, at least in the opin­ion of our emoji over­lords, al­most en­tirely un­in­ter­ested in driv­ing.

Does it mat­ter? I don’t want to put the Horse Face (emoji code U+1F434) be­fore the Cart (emoji code U+1F6D2) by sug­gest­ing that a fall­ing in­ter­est in car own­er­ship is caused by a lack of emo­jis. On the other hand, how can Gen­er­a­tion Emoji be ex­pected to fall in love with cars, when the only pic­togram they have for them looks like their grandma’s 2009 Hyundai Getz? Wouldn’t they be more likely to have it in their favourites list if it looked like a Porsche 919 Evo or a High­land Green 1968 Mus­tang GT fast­back catch­ing air off a San Fran­cisco hill?

Can any­thing be done? In fact, you can sub­mit re­quests for new emo­jis to the Uni­code Con­sor­tium. Ev­ery year, they choose new emo­jis to add to the list. The nom­i­na­tions for 2019 in­clude two more hearts, a mo­torised wheel­chair, an oys­ter and a waf­fle – per­fect for any­one look­ing to send a Snap to bae say­ing “I love oys­ter waf­fles so much, I can’t even walk my fat ass home.” But as far as new ve­hi­cles go, the pro­posed list in­cludes... a mo­torised rick­shaw.

Per­haps we gear­heads could band to­gether for the 2020 list and de­mand a few mo­tor­ing emo­jis. One of the Uni­code Con­sor­tium’s cri­te­ria for new emo­jis is the “ex­pected us­age level”, which in­cludes “mul­ti­ple us­ages”. Like, say, Nail Pol­ish (emoji code U+1F485) has come to mean both lit­er­ally nail pol­ish, but also a type of fab­u­lous snark­i­ness in re­sponse to haters. A big blue spoiler emoji could mean a Subaru WRX... or it could dou­ble as a spoiler-warn­ing for movie re­views. A twin ex­haust could mean af­ter­mar­ket parts, or it could mean “Bae I’m twice as ex­hausted af­ter eat­ing all those oys­ter waf­fles, please send my wheel­chair.” A hand­brake could mean... ac­tu­ally, no one in the emoji gen­er­a­tion would recog­nise a real hand­brake, but that’s the fault of the OEMs, not the emoji over­lords.

Sadly I sus­pect we’re as likely to see these new pic­tograms as we are a uni­corn. In real life, I mean, not on the emoji list... where there are two of them. Cry­ing face.

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