Emoji Major No. 10: The Government Shutdown

This week, Zoe Mendelson takes it to our nation’s capital, where the fate of the country is in the hands of ridiculous little characters.

And the government shutdown continues. The deadline to raise the debt limit is now tomorrow. But, as of today at least, there’s some optimism about the Senate pushing a plan for resolve. And word on the street is that Boehner the Orange may no longer have the juice to stop the House from blocking it.


The whole thing really makes me laugh. This impasse and the state of Congress are the best definition of sh*t show I can think of.

I’ve always been interested in politics–see dorky photo of intern me with Sen. Dick Durbin and its emoji interpretation below–but right now, I wish the seat-of-government scene were a little less interesting. This official U.S. sh*t show is as can’t-look-away engrossing as anything on TV or in the theater.

When my editor and I first dreamed up this column, emoji news seemed like a great idea, my favorite potential concept. But when we started plotting it out, we decided it got too insensitive too quickly. First of all, the news’ obsession with terrorism/one-guy-in-a-turban emoji situation was doomed. (If you missed this before, the only emoji of color-not-yellow in there wears a turban.)

Second, is it really OK to depict catastrophic human events in silly little cartoon characters?

Since the shutdown is equal parts drama and news–and probably not as catastrophic as the media say it is–I thought I would take it for a spin. It’s loaded with Shakespearean clown characters, and it has caused no direct fatalities, at least not yet. Plus, I’d like to try to make emoji into something at least vaguely educational to counterbalance the pop culture subjects I usually go for. (Although I guess politics isn’t much more substantive than Katy Perry these days, and Congress could probably learn a lot about teamwork from Friday Night Lights).

This, too, I admit, made the shutdown an attractive emoji frontier: a bunch of old white guys all played by the same old white guy joke. (Orange you glad I made an occasional exception?)


So hope for some grownup behavior from the government this week. In the meantime, watch the wee ones’ Washington antics in the slideshow above.

ASK US FOR ADVICE: I got distracted by the state of the nation this week, but I am still committed to a future Emoji Major advice column. Send any life, love, work questions you might like answered in emoji to by sometime soon pretty please.

About the author

Zoe Mendelson is a mushroom salesperson in Brooklyn, NY. She writes a weekly map column for UntappedCities.