July 25th, 2017 – The marketing team for the upcoming The Emoji Movie prompted a fresh round of internet outrage with a since-deleted tweet comparing their kid-friendly film to Hulu’s dystopian drama, The Handmaid’s Tale. The one-hour drama takes place inside a fictional-ish repressive regime where all women are sold into sexual slavery by that society’s ruling class. The movie studio’s decision to compare the intense, hit series with a movie based on sentient text message characters struck some on social media as trivializing the issues of sexual violence. Said one Twitter user:
“Wait, do emojis do that gross rape ritual or did the marketing team not think this through?”
The now-common marketing strategies that saturate social media timelines with sponsored content meant that by the time the tweet was removed it was already too late.
— Beth Elderkin (@BethElderkin) July 25, 2017
The response was swift and not what anyone promoting the star-studded, multi-million dollar summer movie would want to have to explain to their boss. Fans of the streaming series were quick to point out that the audiences for a movie about talking smiley faces and a show where disobedient women are mutilated do not really overlap. In response to the corporate tweet, another Twitter user wrote:
“Oh you’ve got jokes on the subjugation, rape and societal betrayal of women! Can’t wait to take my kids!”
Missed the mark on this one by a long shot. Are we supposed to think of that emoji in servitude, being raped and forced to have babies?
— Sean Simpson (@seanasimpson) July 24, 2017
So does it make you happy to mock the suffering of women? just want to be clear.
— Claire Agincourt (@ClaireAgincourt) July 24, 2017
Wow. Praise be. Blocked.
— Carlos Udarbe (@CarlosUdarbe) July 24, 2017
Do scheindlers list next
— Jeremy M (@thismyshow) July 24, 2017
The promotional ad featured a smiling emoji dressed in one of the signature red cloaks worn by the Emmy-nominated freshman drama’s titular handmaids. Along with image was the line “Blessed be the Emoji,” parodying an infamous line of dialogue spoken by the show’s subjugated female characters. In response, some Twitter users screencapped themselves blocking the account while others called for the movie studio to delete the account used to promote the movie outright.
The Handmaid’s Tale has been praised by critics for its timely take on the issues of rape, reproductive rights and authoritarianism. One media critic for Salon succinctly summarized the “The Emoji Movie” blowback, writing:
“Given the heavy political implications and the show’s depictions of sexual violence, one would think it wouldn’t be a great object of parody in order to promote a summer popcorn flick marketed to families and children.”
The film’s producers have yet to issue a statement in response to the controversy ahead of their movie’s release.