In this world, there is one constant: change. Humans are made to evolve, for if they don’t they simply fade into the background of everyday life. Change is all around us. All aspects of life are in a consistent arc of change. It is only appropriate that the items we indulge our lives with also follow this path of constant transformations. Parallel to the growth of children into adults; items of popular culture grow into different bodies over time. In order to for items of popular culture to remain effective and relevant, they must change face along with the generations. Transfers to different mediums rejuvenate the ideas behind these items, and bring a fresh approach to old ideas. The most powerful transformations lie in the crossovers between items of counterculture that become renowned items of popular culture.
The world is generally intolerant to what is different. This is not a surprise, as it is human nature to fear the unknown. Entrepreneur, skateboard pro and artist Rob Reger wanted to change the face of the female hero. He made it his mission to create a counter icon, to set a standard for individuals who saw conforming as an imprisonment, not a way of life. Reger paved the way for acceptance of a distinct personality within popular culture. His creation, Emily the Strange has captured the spirit of iconoclast style since her birth in the early 90’s. Initially Emily was introduced to the world as a decal for skateboards. She can be defined as the child of counter culture, designed to be mischievous and spark the dreamer in all of us. She is a strange young girl, no pun intended. Everything that defines hip and beautiful, Emily personifies the opposite. She is an impish character who is both self-assured and fiercely independent. Emily is bubbling with a bad attitude and makes it her mission in life to share her rage with the world. She faces the world head on with her friends, a gang of felines. Music is her only form of finding solitude. Her choice of music? Of course everything that can be categorized as counter culture. Popular? Of course not. Emily rejuvenates all the forgotten punk classic and metal masterpieces. Her negative outlook is oddly inspiring. She is the antidote for everything that defines pop culture.
This counter culture marvel was revolutionized to become a queen of pop culture, as she grew older. Emily became an item of familiarity internationally. No longer just a sticker for a skateboard, Emily underwent a metamorphosis, and thus was able to make the world a bit stranger. First creator Rob Reger placed Emily’s face on clothing in retailers all around the world, then Emily conquered comic books and now Emily has mastered the young-adult novel. In 2007, action figures of both Emily and her feline friends were added into the Emily-World. The stories behind her comic books are set to become a motion picture in 2012. Emily has now become mainstream. Since her birth she has been a standard in the cultural underground, over the years she has evolved to add mainstream culture to her list of feats. Her products can be found anywhere from the local Wal-Mart, to the neighborhood bookstore. She has brought to light all of the underlying items that exist in our society; the stranger aspects have now become magnified, and praised.
The traditional idea of what a female should be is nowhere to be found in the life of Emily. Emily is dark, “The avenging angel of the outcast; the patron saint of loser, loners and daydreamers, “(Reger, The Lost Issue). By no means does she fit the image of being classy and ladylike. Emily is never discreet about how she feels. She does not conform to what is deemed appropriate behavior for a young lady. She delivers the message that she is content with being a loner and that the only companions she needs are her beloved cats. All that defines Emily is not what should define a thirteen-year old girl.
Emily may present a negative attitude. However, her impact on the world has been nothing of a negative nature. Pop culture has been saved by Emily’s independent spirit. Emily is a voice for self-awareness and her appeal is strong in individuals who identify with her signature individuality. Everything about Emily’s lifestyle is so anti-cool, that her existence has made such a lifestyle cool! The dynamics of the punk lifestyle are now becoming mainstream. Pop culture has been given a face-lift. All the items of what were once seen as counter culture are now becoming mainstream. Tattoos, skulls and an angry thirteen-year old super-icon are now cultural norms. Emily has a rightful spot amongst the pop culture icons that have changed the way the word “cool” is used.
Miss Emily the Strange rocked her way from the world of counterculture to mainstream popular culture. Along the way, she did not lose any of her defining traits. Her transformation has supported the idea that different mediums of pop culture can still support the same notion. Emily is a punk princess. Her message of refusing to conform transfers from: stickers, to comics and soon to the silver screen. The change of medium does not blur her message. In fact, being displayed through several different mediums has made her infamous. Her message has never been so powerful. Different mediums allow for different tools to be used to display Emily and her anti-conformity message. Her beautiful kaleidoscope world is experienced vividly through her graphics, and her text.
In order to utilize Emily as a link to reach out to the stranger in all of us, Emily had to evolve to reach a new breed of followers. A decal triggered interest. Clothing donned with Emily made her followers proud to see the birth of a subculture of one strange girl. Her comics intrigued her followers to learn her story. Who was Emily? Emily could be anyone around the world. Her transfer of mediums made her someone who could be related to. Someone who could be truly admired. Nothing of the true Emily identity was lost.
Emily served as a powerful crossover icon from counter culture to popular culture. Repositioning herself as a pop culture icon did not rid Emily of any of her core values. Emily still defines everything that is counter culture. Yet, strangely, Emily has taken over pop culture. Emily is everywhere. From shopping malls in Japan, to European metal clubs. Emily has a universal appeal, which captivates an international audience. Emily has evolved with the changing pop culture landscape, but her signature ‘strange’ style still remains intact. Emily the Strange is a voice for individualism; her consistent presence in both the world of counter culture and popular culture celebrates the notion of being different. Reality, as we know it, has no place in the world of Emily. However, our reality will always hold a place for the existence of Emily.