Friday, August 6, 2010

I'm Back...and Defending Emoticons

It's been a while. I know. But trust me, I've been busy. For the past few months, I've been hosting the Moviefone Minute. Yes, I know it's more like two minutes, but hey, I'm a talker. There was Comic Con, which was both amazing and exhausting. (I finally bought my sonic screwdriver...which required a screwdriver to open.)

Oh my god, I love this thing!

And I've had some crazy interviews. Julia Roberts laughed at my name, telling me that if I'd been the other Jenna Bus(c)h, she would have had to discuss politics. My first Skype interview with the very awesome Derek Mears from Hawaii, where he's filming 'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.' Angelina Jolie telling me she eats spiders. Mickey Rourke asking me if we'd met in a bar the night before. Russell Brand betting me I could have sex with 17 people in an hour. Oh, believe me, we left that one off the final interview. That's what I get for telling him I was impossible to offend. :)

Why yes, that is an emoticon you see at the end of that sentence. I know it's a big no no for people over the age of 16. And I couldn't care less.

I'm pretty sure you're no different than me in that you analyze what people say. Big phone call with the boss? Then I bet you spent at least 15 minutes reading into what he or she sounded like. Was that anger in her voice? Was there a bit of sarcasm? Did she sound excited about the new project or bored out of her skull? Just have a run in with that guy you like? Oh, I guarantee you're replaying it over and over in your head, trying to read the body language and debating the meaning of each and every gorgeous blink of his baby blues.

In the age of social networking, we're friends with people we've never met in person and probably never will. We have meaningful conversations in 140 characters. We talk to celebrities on Twitter and we send each other quick notes in a thousand different forms...but they're all written. There is no body language to dissect. There is no sound to endlessly ponder. No way to detect sarcasm. (Oh, how desperately we need a sarcasm font!) I've sent emails to people that have set off wars because no one got the joke. And so I rely on two little symbols. : and ) to express my good mood. The joke I'm making. That I really don't mean to be a bitch when I ask for just one more favor. :( means I'm sorry I'm turning down drinks for the thousandth time because I have 5 more articles to write. Without it, 'Sorry. Deadlines are keeping me chained to my computer' sounds kind of obnoxious.

My favorite one isn't on here.

Anyone who's spoken to me in person or watched my videos knows that I'm not subtle. I'm loud. I speak with my hands. My facial expressions are one arched eyebrow short of a cartoon character. I started in musical theater. What can I say?

This is from Evita at the Zachary Scott Theatre in Austin, TX.

I'm just as goofy/chatty/over the top in my writing most of the time. I compare movies like 'Inglourious Basterds' to cheese and noodles. But in short emails and Twitter updates, I feel a bit handcuffed. (My friends swear that if you made me sit on my hands, I wouldn't be able to speak.) When happiness can be expressed in 2 characters, why not take advantage of it?

So here's my point. In the age of Twitter, the rules have changed. Emoticons are tools like any other. You aren't bothered by BRB and OMG. You're totally comfortable giving up #SpacesBetweenWordsForHashtags. You tell people that, if you could be bothered with actual human contact, you'd be giving them ::hugs::. So a couple of smiley faces here and there don't mean you're trying to relive your teenage years. They're just letting people know, in the shortest way possible, that you don't mean to sound like an ass when you post, @whoever Oh frak you. :)

We refer to that mic flag as the 'shot killer.' It's all over ABC's coverage of the 'Salt' premiere.


  1. Wow, sounds like an exciting few months!

    I'm planning a pirate ship hunting expedition this weekend (I live in Honolulu). Probably won't be able to see any people (especially because I think they're only filming on the ships at night), but it would be cool to see the ship!

    I'm with you on the emoticons. I try to keep it to a minimum, so I usually don't use them in my blog posts, but on blog comments I definitely use them because I don't want people to think I'm being a jerk when I'm just being silly or something. Sometimes I type something out and it just doesn't read correctly without a :), a ;), or a :P. Emoticons can be necessary (though they can get a little messy around actual punctuation, as the previous sentence shows :).

  2. I can't live without emoticons, because I'm naturally a very snarky and sarcastic person - I often feel the need to dilute what I'm saying with a :) here and there.

    There is a level on which it offends my usually stern grammar and punctuation sensibilities, so I try and keep them to a minimum when writing a blog post, but they're all over my Twitter feed and blog comments...

    I do think that I LOL too much and should be restrained though :S

  3. Dude, I HAVE to use emoticons. My written communication style tends to be very concise & direct. Without them I'd sound like a bossy-ass bitch. And I'm not! Just as long as everyone does things my way. ;)