WHY THE EFF ARE WE SO OB­SESSED WITH UNICORNS?

Cosmopolitan (Philippines) - - Contents -

Th­ese myth­i­cal crea­tures are hav­ing a mo­ment.

What does this fas­ci­na­tion with a myth­i­cal crea­ture say about grown women?

For those of you who like cof­fee, read­ing things on the in­ter­net, us­ing your eyes, or just notic­ing things, you’ve no doubt no­ticed an in­flux of uni­corn-re­lated fluff float­ing around. Gone are the days of My Lit­tle

Pony alone tick­ling your horsey pro­cliv­i­ties. Now there’s a sta­ble of prod­ucts from uni­corn makeup and uni­corn toast to float­ies for the pool, or­na­ments for the house, uni­corn essence for the face and “uni­corn snot” (oth­er­wise known as “wet glit­ter”) for ev­ery­thing else. In my quest to un­veil all that was ‘corn-y, I even hap­pened upon a uni­corn dildo. True story.

We’ve be­come tan­gled in a glit­ter-cov­ered ma­trix of larg­erthan-life pro­por­tions. And just as I neared the end of my tether, Star­bucks went and in­tro­duced their Uni­corn Frap­puc­cino—a drink that doesn’t even have a drop of caf­feine, just syrupy good­ness to keep your sugar lev­els spiked and rear­ing for horse­play. Just like that, the hype was turned up to 11.

But...why?

Con­sumer psy­chol­o­gist Adam Fer­rier says you can blame the tech-heads in Sil­i­con Val­ley for in­tro­duc­ing the whole idea. They started us­ing the term “uni­corn” in 2013 to de­scribe a rare, good in­vest­ment op­por­tu­nity—usu­ally val­ued at over the bil­lion-dol­lar mark—and how­ever in­no­cently con­ceived, it wasn’t long be­fore the masses at­tached their own mean­ing to the word.

“The uni­corn trend has two key prongs: this Sil­i­con Val­ley tech and cool mean­ing, and also this inno- cent meme,” says Fer­rier. “It’s cute and fun, but also in­tel­li­gent. If you par­tic­i­pate in the uni­corn trend, you’re par­tic­i­pat­ing in a trend that is as­pi­ra­tional but also play­ful.”

So why are grown women fawn­ing over mys­ti­cal gal­lop­ers that are merely a fig­ment of our imag­i­na­tion? (You knew that, yes?)

“There’s some­thing Freudian and sex­ual about it,” Fer­rier says. “The fact unicorns don’t ex­ist means there isn’t go­ing to be a uni­corn that comes along and ru­ins it—it’s not go­ing to get caught out do­ing bad be­hav­ior.”

That’s right, there shall be no sex tapes or co­caine scan­dals: unicorns are sparkly and fam­ily friendly. Most of all, they’ve come at a time when so­ci­ety needs a dis­trac­tion from the mael­strom of shit that’s float­ing around the uni­verse daily. Pol­i­tics, death, and de­struc­tion...what’s the harm in a lit­tle shim­mer to shimmy away the bad vibes? It’s the same rea­son we’re also glued to each new episode of Keep­ing Up With The Kar­dashi­ans, right? And if the world gets too much, there are uni­corn band-aids to ac­tu­ally cover up any phys­i­cal pain.

But with sat­u­ra­tion, the horns come out for real. Let’s go back to the afore­men­tioned Star­bucks Uni­corn Frap­puc­cino that took the trend from “Yeah, OK, cute,” to “Yeah, OK, this is ridicu­lous.” In Wil­liams­burg, cof­fee shop The End Brook­lyn is su­ing Star­bucks for $10 mil­lion for rip­ping off their uni­corn creation. That’s right, just when you thought ol’ S’bucks got the party started, it seems Brook­lyn knew what was up—and they’re not happy their idea was seem­ingly hi­jacked. As Fer­rier ex­plains, though, the na­ture of ad­ver­tis­ing and brand com­mu­ni­ca­tions means th­ese com­pa­nies need to work in stereo­types and men­tal short­cuts. So it was only a mat­ter of time be­fore two dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies clashed over the ‘corns.

“You don’t have much time to get your mes­sage across,” he says. “If there is a pre-es­tab­lished meme in our so­ci­ety, it’s an easy way to say, ‘We’re part of pop­u­lar cul­ture and want to play along.’ You won’t see bleed­ing-edge brands work­ing with unicorns in their com­mu­ni­ca­tions—it’s only mass mar­ket.”

If we’re look­ing for some­one, or some­thing, to blame, look no fur­ther than so­cial me­dia, I say. At the time of print, there were a touch over 5.5 mil­lion posts tagged #uni­corn. Per­haps this trend is just on steroids be­cause we are so read­ily pre­sented with the prod­ucts of our ob­ses­sion. Plus, uni­corn things look pretty.

the end is not neigh nigh

The faster th­ese snap trends rise, the faster they fall. There’s a meme a se­cond on the in­ter­net, re­placed by some­thing equally inane the next day. And those fid­get spin­ners, I can guar­an­tee, will be in the dump by next is­sue. But unicorns are dif­fer

ent. We haven’t no­ticed how long they’ve been in the pop cul­ture ver­nac­u­lar. But as one more per­son buys one more prod­uct, one more com­pany de­cides to jump into the ring and beg for cash. “Right now, it’s a way for a com­pany to say ‘We’re part of the con­ver­sa­tion and we’ll ride it with the masses,’” says Fer­rier. And ride it, we shall.

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