1857: Emoji Movie
Title text: Some other studio should do the Antz/A Bug's Life thing and release The Dingbats Movie at the same time.
Megan asks Cueball if he knows about the then-upcoming The Emoji Movie. It was released on July 28, 2017, a month after this comic, and had been widely reviled on the Internet for its lack of original plot, characters, and jokes.
Cueball responds to the topic by damning it with faint praise, starting with the presumption that somebody had to make a film about a "section of Unicode".
Unicode is the standard by which almost all modern text, in all languages, is represented as computer data. It consists of thousands of "code points", grouped into about 280 contiguous sections known as "blocks". There is no formal term "section of Unicode", which Randall seems to be using to skirt the fact that emojis are not all represented within one Unicode block.
Examples of potential Unicode blocks include "Playing Cards", "Musical Symbols", "Tibetan", "Hangul Jamo Extended-B", "Braille Patterns" – and of course "Combining diacritical marks" and "Dingbats", referred to in the comic.
Emojis are standard pictograms which include smileys (eg 😂) and common objects such as beer (🍺) and eggplant (🍆). Dating from the late 1990s, they were added to Unicode in 2010. There is actually no Unicode block known as "Emojis". There is Emoticons (U+1F600..U+1F64F), which contains 80 code points, mostly of facial expressions. However it does not include all emojis. For instance, "Baby" (👶) is U+1F476, within the Miscellaneous Symbols and Pictographs block.
The topic of emoji in Unicode also appears in 1813: Vomiting Emoji.
Megan responds to this presumption by facetiously suggesting that Hollywood should make a series of films about different code blocks, referencing Hollywood's current trend of reducing risk by making many sequels and adaptations. She proposes a movie about Combining Diacritical Marks (see 1647: Diacritics), a different section of Unicode which contains 112 code points (each assigned to a character). These code points include many varieties of diacritics such as accents, cedillas and tildes which can be combined with other letters to produce an almost unlimited number of possibilities, such as "ў" (Cyrillic Y plus breve).
Cueball quips that this series would have too many characters. This is a pun on the word "character", which has the double meaning of a fictional character, or a symbol which corresponds to a grapheme (e.g. letter, digit, punctuation mark). It's true that although the Combining Diacritical Marks movie would have only 112 characters, the series as a whole would have tens of thousands, including such epics as "Egyptian Hieroglyphs" (1,071) and "CJK Unified Ideographs Extension B" (42,720).
The "Antz/A Bug's Life thing" in the title text refers to the twin films phenomenon, in which two films with very similar (or identical) concepts are released within roughly the same timeframe. Competing studios Dreamworks and Pixar released their respective insect-oriented films in 1998, a year infamous for many other such film pairings (see the Wikipedia article for a full list).
Dingbats were an early form of pictograph included within the normal mechanisms for producing computer text, serving a similar function to emojis, but oriented towards practical symbols such as telephones, airport symbols and a wide variety arrows. Unlike emojis, they are usually black-and-white. Previously, dingbats required a specific font to render, but as part of Unicode (U+2700–U+27BF), they can now be displayed in a variety of fonts. For example: ✈ ✆ ➹ ✂ ✰ Some characters are both dingbats and emoji, and are followed with a variant-selector character to indicate whether they should be in color.
The joke is that although dingbats and emojis are superficially equivalent, a film which contains many cute human expressions would have much more potential for success than one about dry symbols such as arrows, asterisks and scissors.
Megan and Cueball's discussion about the movie is continued in 1870: Emoji Movie Reviews.
- [Megan and Cueball are walking together while Megan is looking at her smartphone.]
- Megan: Did you see there's an emoji movie?
- Cueball: If they have to make a movie about a section of Unicode, it's not the worst choice...
- Megan: They should do a whole series. I would watch the Combining Diacritical Marks movie.
- Cueball: That series would have way too many characters.
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