We get it, we suppose. You’re trying to promote a film on social media, so you turn to the internet’s big talking points in a bid to score some easy publicity. And there’s no denying that critically-acclaimed TV show The Handmaid’s Tale - which has proven to be incredibly vocal about the current political climate and what it means for women – is one of those talking points.
Based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel of the same name, the terrifying dystopic drama (in which Elisabeth Moss plays titular ‘handmaid’, Offred) takes place in Gilead, a near-future version of North America in which the Constitution has been overthrown. As a result of this, women’s rights and identities have been stripped away, with fertile women being rounded up, red tagged, and forced into a life of sexual servitude and surrogacy. Dubbed ‘Handmaids’, they are legally raped by their ‘Commanders’ in a monthly ceremony – and forced to bear the children of their assaulters, before giving up their babies to the high-ranking ‘Wives’ of their society.
In short, it’s incredibly serious, thought-provoking stuff – and feminists everywhere have taken the show’s core message to heart, with activists donning the show’s iconic crimson robes and white bonnets for demonstrations against gender discrimination and the infringement of reproductive and civil rights.
So, when people saw that upcoming children’s film The Emoji Movie was using imagery from Hulu's show to promote their film, they were (understandably) furious.
The parody poster showed the smiley-face emoji make-up lady dressed up as a Handmaid – and grinning gleefully.
To hammer home the pretty obvious connection, movie bosses emblazoned the poster with the words: “A smartphone original – The Emoji's Tale.”
For a few days, the tweet went unnoticed – but it wasn’t long before Twitter was flooded with complaints from angry social media users.
Honestly want to meet whoever thought this was OK and the person who green lit it and have an intervention.— TERFs are TRASH (@xeronius) July 24, 2017
So does it make you happy to mock the suffering of women? just want to be clear.— Claire The Heretic (@ClaireAgincourt) July 24, 2017
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
Oh you've got jokes on the subjugation, rape and societal betrayal of women! Can't wait to take my kids!— Kirsten (@KikiHavens) July 24, 2017
Some decided to suggest a few other films to The Emoji Movie bosses, just in case they were on the hunt for the subject of their next inappropriate parody:
What's next? Schindler's Emoji? 12 Years an Emoji? Emojis Don't Cry? Emoji: Made in America?— Chloe the Cat (@ThatChloeCat) July 24, 2017
And others were just grimly resigned to the world’s current state of affairs:
"Handmaid's Tale with emoji" is not far off from our current reality tbh— Supership 🏳️🌈 (@supership79) July 24, 2017
The tone-deaf tweet has since been deleted – but, this being the internet, the faux pas isn’t going to go away anytime soon.
Top tip, everyone? Don’t try to turn one of the world’s most important feminist dramas into promotional material for your cartoon. Obviously.