People In Manhattan Beach Are Really Mad About This Pink Emoji House
A war is being waged in a Manhattan Beach neighborhood. Battle lines are being drawn. Literal tears have been shed, and it's all caused by one pink house -- one hot pink house adorned by two conspicuously large, spray-painted emoji faces.
Each face wears a pair of mismatched eyes, adorned by sets of lush, long eyelashes. One sports a grin with its tongue hanging playfully out, and the other has its mouth sealed by a zipper.
The owner of the house, Kathryn Kidd, insists the icons are nothing but works of art. She told NBC4 that she wanted to add some color to the neighborhood, so she hired Instagram artist Z the Art to spice up the house's pink exterior.
The artist behind these incendiary works said it was Kidd's idea to paint emojis, and that Kidd had shown him some pre-existing emojis as inspiration. Her plan was to mix and combine different elements from different emojis to create completely custom designs. She had described to the artist her vision for the faces, and then Z the Art designed them to her liking.
"It's a message to me to be positive and happy and love life," she said to CBS2.
Neighbors, however, see the paintings as an eyesore and Kidd's form of revenge after they reported her to the city for illegally short-term renting out her house. "I don't think of it as artwork. I think of it as a 'F U,'" one neighbor told NBC4.
Kidd admitted that she made a mistake by renting her house in short term increments, saying that she has since paid the $4,000 fine and switched to long-term rentals.
WHAT DO THE EMOJIS MEAN?
The zipper mouth emoji has become particularly controversial among the community.
To Kidd, the zipper is supposed to be a statement on young women's fashion today-a message to protect themselves by covering up.
Neighbor Dina Doll, who first reported Kidd to the city, is not buying it. "I think it's not even ambiguous, actually. Zip the lip... we all know what that means," she told CBS2. "I think it violates every sense of common decency and neighborly act."
Some have also taken the emoji's long eyelashes to be a personal attack. Neighbor Susan Weiland tells the Los Angeles Times that she sees it as a mockery of her as she wore eyelash extensions when she once met Kidd.
Kidd told CBS2 that she herself has eyelash extensions. She claims the intended effect was to create "Mona Lisa eyes" that follow the viewer around.
Z the Art confirmed that during the design process, Kidd said, "I have these long eyelashes. Maybe you can put some on the emojis."
The artist does not consider the lashes to be a mocking or vindictive move on Kidd's part. "She related them to herself, if anything," he said.
To complicate matters, neighbors are pointing to an Instagram post as evidence of a malicious motive. They claim that a now-edited caption by Z the Art once read, "Are your neighbors constantly ratting you out? Have they cost you thousands in fines? Have you wanted to tell them off lately? Why risk a case, when you can hire me to paint them a pretty message?"
The artist said not only has he never penned such a caption, but that he also has no idea where the accusation came from. In fact, his Instagram picture of the house was reposted from another account, @thegoneman. The original poster credited the wrong artist, he said, so it is possible that there were factual mistakes in the post to begin with.
When neighbors complained about the emojis, they were disappointed that Manhattan Beach City Council refused to take action against it. The city told them that there was nothing to be done because Kidd is simply exercising her First Amendment rights.
"It's almost like they're afraid of her," Weiland said to the L.A. Times. "And we really feel it is our city's responsibility to have these regulations in place because people can do anything. That's the most frightening thing. I feel like we're not being protected against bullying."
The most recent tenant has also taken a liking to the emojis. "I thought it was hysterical," he told CBS2. "I didn't really know any story behind it. I just knew it was easy for my friends to find my place."
With so much commotion buzzing around his artwork, Z the Art offered this perspective: "I think this world has bigger problems than to focus on someone's paint job."
LAist reached out to Kathryn Kidd for comments, but did not receive a response.