In FIDLAR’s new emoji-only video for “Why Generation,” frowny-faced emojis pogo and mosh as four avatars rock on stage. Scrunched faces drink emoji beer steins, eat emoji pills, vomit emoji puke. On a cartoon streetscape, emoji cyclists race, cars crash, a billboard overhead advertises using the praying-hands character. Happy faces take selfies and eat emoji hamburgers in front of emoji penguins, pigs and koalas at the zoo.
Throughout the infectious animated clip, social-messaging characters drive the narrative as though we’re stuck in a game app soundtracked by FIDLAR’s hard, catchy punk rock.
Directed by FIDLAR’s longtime collaborator Ryan Baxley and animated by Nolan Fabricius, the video is best viewed on a smartphone. After a brief introduction in which drummer Max Kuehn is shown in real life eating a burrito and staring at his device, we enter the game through his eyes and commence the animated action.
Avatars for the four members of the Los Angeles band — Zac Carper (guitars/vocals), Elvis Kuehn (guitars/vocals), Brandon Schwartzel (bass) and Max Kuehn (drums) — march in unison toward a performance, stomping through smiley-face emoji poop, dodging a head-on collision, witnessing a bank robbery (with frowny devil-face perps shooting emoji guns and carrying bundles of emoji money) and successfully arriving at their destination. Only to be drenched in vomit. At key moments we’re reminded that we’re watching this on Kuehn’s nearly juiceless phone.
It’s a memorable work, one that captures 2016 both visually and lyrically. Written by FIDLAR’s Elvis Kuehn, the song lays out in simple terms a major hurdle of the social media age. “There’s a secret we wanna know/ How the hell, how the hell are we supposed to know/ How to live in the 21st century/ When every move you make everyone can see?”