“Lucifer”

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In the Bible, the Devil is described as both a red-colored, horned being with a pitchfork and a malevolent spirit. But in pop culture, the Devil has taken on many more distinctive appearances. Al Pacino played Satan disguised as the evil head of a law firm in the 1997 thriller “The Devil’s Advocate.” Actor/comedian Jason Sudeikis parodied the Biblical figure in several Weekend Update segments on “Saturday Night Live,” wearing a cartoonishly bright red Devil outfit and talking about inventing every terrible attribute of the Internet. In the 2013 apocalyptic comedy “This Is The End,” the Devil was depicted as a gigantic, CGI demon that butt-fucked Jonah Hill. This year, the Devil is once again taking a new form, this time as a womanizing British nightclub owner named Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis, “Miranda”) in FOX’s mystical crime dramedy “Lucifer.” And it may just be the best onscreen portrayal of the Devil yet.  

Adapted from the character of the DC Comics series “The Sandman,” “Lucifer” transcends its familiar police procedural format by employing sleek visuals, a charismatic lead and stylish production values. Bored with ruling the Underworld, Lucifer decides to live in Los Angeles (the “City of Angels,” get it?) and successfully manages an upscale nightlife hotspot called Lux. But after witnessing the death of his close friend, beloved pop star Delilah (AnnaLynne McCord, “Nip/Tuck”), Lucifer seeks to punish her killers — as well as the rest of the human scum on Earth — with the help of LAPD Detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German, “Chicago Fire”). The premise sounds very conventional and somewhat derivative, but given its comic book roots, “Lucifer” is bound to boast some enthralling material.

Though most of the script is bland, there are some moments of captivating dialogue, especially with Lucifer and Detective Decker. The two have a fun banter and the sexual tension between them is evident, but what’s even more alluring about their relationship is how Decker is immune to Lucifer’s telepathic ability of uncovering people’s deepest, darkest secrets. This is what keeps Lucifer — and the audience — intrigued, and it’s arguably the strongest aspect of the series thus far. “Lucifer” ’s incredible alt-rock soundtrack is also surprisingly apt for the show; it includes songs like Beck’s “Devil’s Haircut,” Cage the Elephant “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” and The Black Keys’s “Sinister Kid.”

At times, however, “Lucifer” can be scattershot and tonally uneven. The camera captures some beautiful shots with unconventional angles, but the choppy editing stagnates the show’s pacing. Additionally, the show doesn’t seem so sure of what genre it wants to stick with; it shifts uncomfortably from comedy to thriller to drama. While Ellis makes a few clever, snarky quips, some of the supposedly “funny” parts of the show are cringeworthy, particularly in the scene in which Lucifer seduces Delilah’s therapist Linda (Rachael Harris, “Suits”). Unfortunately, the action sequences aren’t spectacular either and far from thrilling, as they utilize the slow-motion effect to a fault.

But unlike other darker and sillier versions of the Devil in TV and film, “Lucifer” and its protagonist are much more developed. Ellis brings both the sex appeal and pathos for a character who’s a notoriously cruel, unforgiving force against the most sinful and depraved of people. He’s similar to David Tennant’s sinister Kilgrave from Netflix’s “Jessica Jones,” except with a little bit more empathy and likability. Underneath Lucifer’s smug confidence (he’s immortal, after all), his sympathy for Decker and refusal to live in the Underworld again give him an emotional edge. Even the striking Lauren German brings energy and skill to her role as Detective Decker, which could have been another cookie-cutter cop sidekick.

Considering its genre and content, “Lucifer” may draw comparisons to other supernatural/crime TV shows, like the CW’s “iZombie” or FOX’s “Sleepy Hollow.” When juxtaposed with the light-hearted cleverness of “iZombie” or dark aesthetics of “Sleepy Hollow,” “Lucifer” is a second-rate program. But once it learns to find its footing, “Lucifer” can hopefully join the high ranks of those two shows and the rest of television programming.

Grade: B+

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Donald Trump and Martin Shkreli: When Life Imitates Art

Donald Trump and Martin Shkreli are arguably two of the richest and most devious figures in modern American times. The former is a multi-millionaire entrepreneur/reality star, whose fear-mongering tactics and political incorrectness have made him the frontrunner for the Republican party in the 2016 Presidential election. The latter is a financial entrepreneur and pharmaceutical executive who raised the price of the anti-HIV drug Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 per tablet. Both are wealthy white men who look and act like villains straight out of a Marvel comic book; they use their success and notoriety to cause controversy and deprive others of happiness just because they can. Trump is basking in the American media spotlight by reinvigorating the racist underbelly of middle America, while Shkreli is threatening to erase the only copy of the Wu-Tang album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, which he bought at an auction for $2 million. Both Trump and Shkreli have faced serious backlash from media sources — Trump has become the epicenter of scorn for many and Shkreli was indicted for securities fraud and after he was freed from bail, resigned from his CEO position at Turing Pharmaceuticals. Yet somehow, the controversy they incite makes them even more popular. It’s a mystifying and even terrifying thing to think about, but Trump and Shkreli possess a potentially destructive power over ordinary people, almost as if their actions imitate the actions of villains depicted in movies and TV shows. If this were the case, they essentially represent two different villain archetypes: Trump is the guy who is actually a threat to American society and Skhreli is the guy who wants to be a threat.

Donald Trump and Bobby Newport in Parks & Recreation

I’m not gonna go on a huge rant on Donald Trump, but what I will say is that his situation as a presidential candidate feels fairly reminiscent of a Parks & Recreation story arc in the show’s 4th season. This is not to say that Trump watched Parks & Rec and thought, “Huh, maybe I can do that” or that Parks & Rec in any way played a part in Trump’s candidacy. However, that story arc — the show’s protagonist Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) faces against the wealthy but clumsy Bobby Newport (Paul Rudd) in a city councilman race — boasts a thought-provoking reflection of the popularity of political incorrectness among American voters. Rudd’s character in Parks & Rec and Donald Trump are totally different people, obviously. Newport is depicted as a naïve simpleton and the son of the owner of the popular Sweetums franchise, who just wants everyone to get along and to do something important with his life. In contrast, Trump is maliciously fueling racism and sexism through his speeches and on Twitter (reminder: he has 5.89 million followers) for the sake of media attention. While Newport and Trump are complete polar opposites, both in intention and personality, their political rhetorics seem to have the same effect on the bottom of the barrel of American voters, in that their words are so grotesquely idiotic and unknowingly preachy, yet they attract an entire crowd of people, whether in the fictitious Pawnee, Indiana or the most overtly conservative towns in America. Unlike their opponents, Newport and Trump don’t have real plausible opinions about important American issues — abortion, gun control, women’s rights — and people still eat up whatever words spew from their mouths. Perhaps using Bobby Newport is not the greatest comparison to Donald Trump (after all, he’s just being used as a pawn to help his father’s conglomerate company). In fact, if you want some even deeper perspective on Trump’s influence, here’s a list of film and TV characters who were apparently inspired by Trump. Still, it’s important to recognize that Parks & Rec‘s satire on the mass appeal of a wealthy icon and political incorrectness makes for a thought-provoking commentary on American politics. It seems silly, but simultaneously scary, considering that something like this arc in Parks & Rec can actually happen in real life. If you want, here are two examples of Newport’s rhetoric juxtaposed with Trump’s:

Martin Skhreli and literally any movie/TV villain

Before I talk about Skhreli, watch this recent video he posted as a threat towards the rap group Wu-Tang Clan, specifically one of its members, Ghostface Killah.

Crazy, right?

In no way does this video pose a national threat, but it still has some very unsettling and ridiculous attributes. It depicts Martin Skhreli using every villain trope imaginable: he has a group of masked men standing around him to really “show” how threatening he can be; he addresses Ghostface Killah by his real name, Dennis, in order to undermine him; he speaks with a snarling, smug, sociopathic delivery; he’s even drinking from a wine glass! This whole diss video, of course, is in reference to some comments made by Ghostface Killah last week. The rapper called Skhreli a “shithead,” slammed him for raising the prices for Daraprim, and said he should release Once Upon a Time in Shaolin for free to the public. In response, Skhreli not only threatens to erase the album, but demands a “500 word” apology with “no grammatical errors” from Ghostface Killah in order to keep the album intact. I’m not kidding. He actually wrote that.

Skhreli finishes off the video by making a direct remark towards Killah: “Ghost, stop pretending, stop acting, stop lying. Be real, as your video once said, and uh, don’t ever fucking mention my name again, or there will be more of a price to pay than just this video.” Out of all the ridiculous things about this video, the strangest one is that even with all of Skhreli’s malicious intent, it feels rather dumb and cartoonish. Masked behind his conceit, Skhreli is scared. He knows that he’s fucked up in the past and he is simply responding out of fear of people perceiving him as the asshole that he is. The irony, however, is that he ends up becoming even more of an asshole when trying to act high and mighty. When watching the video, I was reminded of a brief scene in the trailer for the upcoming disaster flick, London Has Fallen, in which the generic villain makes a viral video announcement about how the American president will die and every major city in the world will be destroyed if the villain doesn’t get what he wants. Of course, Skhreli’s video is not as substantial as the villain’s in London Has Fallen‘s worldwide threat. But the messages in each video are still just as remarkably outrageous. The only difference that Skhreli’s video takes place in real life and it’s flat-out flabbergasting. It also just goes to show how ridiculous and mad a person can become solely because of wanting to maintain wealth and power. Skhreli wants to be taken seriously so badly, as if he wants to be the bad guy for some odd reason. Raising the prices for a drug that could dramatically improve the lives of millions is one way of doing that. Making this video is another. Trump is pretty cartoonish too, but at least it’s having a massive effect on people. (Ironically, Donald Trump has said that Martin Skhreli is a “spoiled brat.”)

(If you want to see the clip I mentioned from London Has Fallen, skip to 1:39.)

The lesson to learn here is this: The villains or antagonists of TV shows and movies may be crazy and maniacal. But when you have people like Trump and Skhreli making headlines, there’s definitely some correlation between how art depicts villains and how those villains become part of our reality.

Kanye West’s Greatest Non-Album Cuts

After Kanye West released the track list for his highly anticipated upcoming record Waves (previously titled Swish), some of his recent singles were missing. While the excellent “Real Friends,” “No More Parties in L.A.,” and “Wolves” made the cut, “All Day,” “Only One,” and “FACTS” didn’t appear (thankfully, that last atrocious single wasn’t added). But for many, including myself, “All Day” and “Only One” were great songs, built on by unconventional production (shout-out to Paul McCartney) and a deeper thematic and sonic exploration into modern hip-hop. While it’s unfortunate that the two songs will remain in the abyss of Kanye’s non-album singles, here are a few of my favorite Kanye West songs that didn’t make onto the track list of his records (or at least, didn’t appear on the standard album version).

“Late” (Late Registration)

OK, technically “Late” is a hidden track from West’s acclaimed sophomore album Late Registration. But that doesn’t go without saying that it’s a mesmerizing, criminally underrated song from mid-2000s Kanye.

“Bittersweet Poetry [feat. John Mayer]” (Graduation)

This Graduation outtake seemed like a match made in heaven. Like West’s “Heard ‘Em Say,” which featured Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, “Bittersweet Poetry” is blessed with a lighthearted production, catchy lyrics, and a hook from a pop singer, this being John Mayer.

“Pinocchio Story” (808s & Heartbreak)

Though “Pinocchio Story” did appear in the bonus track version of 2008’s experimental 808s & Heartbreak, the only recorded version of the song that exists is from a live performance in Singapore. Though Kanye’s singing isn’t his strongest suit, his vocals on “Pinnochio Story”, coupled with a searing production, make the song a poignant, dramatic ballad that’s a masked standout from Kanye’s fourth record. Perhaps listening to the live version makes “Pinnochio Story” all the more fascinating — we hear fans scream with delight as Kanye belts his heart out. As listeners, we get a vivid sense of Kanye’s vulnerability and universality.

“See Me Now” (My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy)

As if My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy wasn’t already fantastic enough, West made the record’s bonus track “See Me Now” into an astounding star-studded anthem. With assists from Big Sean, Beyoncé, and Charlie Wilson, “See Me Now” represented a microcosm of MBDTF, in that every element of the music — the production, lyrics, and artists — work so well when pieced together. Also, I don’t think Kanye has had a more unexpectedly clever lyric than “If you fall on the concrete/That’s yo’ asphalt.”

“White Dress” (The Man with Iron Fists OST)

This song was written for the RZA-directed martial arts flick The Man with Iron Fists. And while the movie wasn’t a critical or commercial success, the soundtrack was fantastic, particularly West’s standout “White Dress.” Backed by a twinkling beat, “White Dress” sounds like retro hip-hop, but Kanye’s lyrics about romance and sex infuse the song with his signature unprecedented freshness.

“Awesome” (Yeezus)

This leaked outtake from 2013’s raucous Yeezus probably deserved to stay off the album, as it would have conflicted with the record’s dark themes. But honestly, “Awesome” is just as cheesy and romantic as Yeezus‘s closer “Bound 2,” except Kanye doesn’t want “fuck [Kim] hard in the sink.” Instead, he just tells her that she’s awesome and even though that’s a pretty simplistic way of expressing love, Kanye makes it sound so sweet and strange at the same time.

“All Day” (Swish/Waves)

It’s a shame that Kanye’s “All Day” didn’t make it onto Waves, considering its catchy trap influences and unconventional features — never would you think to see Theophilius London, Allan Kingdom, and Paul McCartney on the same song credit. Regardless, “All Day” is a multi-layered supersonic explosion of a song. It starts as a club banger, segues briefly into a McCartney-assisted whistle, and ends with a synth-heavy conclusion. It’s masterful, odd, and bubbling with originality and there’s no doubt that it breaks down hip-hop conventions.

“Only One” (Swish/Waves)

Since the beginning of his career, Kanye has done some crazy things, both in real life and, more recently, on social media. He’s notoriously interrupted Taylor Swift, a then soon-to-be pop superstar, in front of everyone at the VMAS. He’s called out George Bush for not caring about black people during a televised Hurricane Katrina event. Just today, he wrote a series of incredible yet hostile tweets towards Wiz Khalifa, simply because of a misunderstanding about how Wiz referred “kk” as weed and not Kanye’s wife Kim Kardashian. But at the heart of it all, Kanye is just like everyone else, even if his over-inflated ego and self-proclaimed “greatest rock star of all time” status beg to differ. “Only One” proves that, in that Kanye sheds all his narcissism to sing a beautiful, Auto-Tuned lullaby to his daughter North, from the perspective of his late mother Donda West. The music video for “Only One,” directed by “Her” filmmaker Spike Jonze, also showcases the truly heartwarming nature of Kanye’s role as a father.

“Angie Tribeca”

Considering the abundance of crime-based shows on American television, it seems almost implausible that networks keep creating more. In fact, most of these programs, such as “CSI” and “Law & Order,” are so common and similar that their closed narrative storylines, suspenseful plots and tough as nails protagonists have become predictable tropes. With TBS’s newest comedy “Angie Tribeca,” these shows receive the ultimate satirical treatment, though its conflicting cleverness and stupidity come with some repercussions.  

Created by Steve Carell (“The Big Short”) and his wife Nancy Carell (“Bridesmaids”), “Angie Tribeca” is an ordinary buddy cop show disguised as a surreal, absurdist parody more in the vein of “The Naked Gun” and “Police Squad!” than “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” It matches the traits of any other crime show, from the cookie-cutter characters to the over-the-top cases. The only difference is “Angie Tribeca” is incredibly self-aware of its own exaggerated nature and offers several obvious references to crime clichés, such as its title sequence: a dizzyingly, fast-paced montage backed by the sound of a screaming man.

But while “Angie Tribeca” can be overwhelmingly droll at times, it contains a plethora of brilliant attributes, especially with Rashida Jones as its winning lead. Taking off from her role as Ann Perkins on NBC’s critically acclaimed “Parks & Recreation,” Jones plays the title character, a no-nonsense female cop archetype who retains both an unwavering conviction to seek justice and a wacky personality. Think Olivia Benson from “Law & Order: SVU,” but younger and sillier. Her partner is Jay Geils (Hayes MacArthur, “She’s Out of My League”), a handsome male cop archetype who is also just as strange and committed to fighting crime as Tribeca. The two bring down bad guys together and form a friendly, ambiguous relationship, which is typical of most crime shows. Regardless of how easily they draw from other leading roles in crime shows, Jones and MacArthur have actual great comedic and romantic chemistry.

Like its two leads, most of the characters in “Angie Tribeca” poke fun at crime show stereotypes, but have their own distinctively odd quirks. Jere Burns (“Justified”) is the hard-around-the-edges LAPD lieutenant Chet Atkins; Alfred Molina (“Love Is Strange”) plays the LAPD’s forensics pathologist Dr. Edelweiss, who starts out each episode physically disabled and then seems perfectly fine in the end; Deon Cole (“Black-ish”) is DJ Tanner, a fierce cop with a German shepherd sidekick. Along with the cast is an exhaustingly talented list of cameos that includes Lisa Kudrow (“Friends”), James Franco (“Palo Alto”), Adam Scott (“Parks & Rec”), Sarah Chalke (“Scrubs”) and beloved ventriloquist Jeff Dunham (“Dinner for Schmucks”).

“Angie Tribeca” ’s reliance on satirizing conventions of crime shows is both its biggest strength and weakness. Many of the show’s gags are hysterical and gut-busting, though they can easily become tiresome after watching them over and over again. A perfect example is a recurring visual gag of the Ford logo in the pilot episode, which appears in every scene with a Ford car and even some scenes that don’t. The overtly obvious product placement seems funny, but it’s like repeating the same joke every five minutes — it may sound hilarious at first, but when told too many times, it’s essentially beating a dead horse. Of course, that’s not to say that there aren’t moments of fantastic wit, the strongest being its spoof of classic crime show conventions, such as dramatic flashbacks, over-the-top action sequences and insanely wild cases. One delves into the mysterious death of a wedding cake baker and another investigates the missing painting of a thumb.

Instead of using the conventional week-by-week episode format, TBS showed the entire first season of “Angie Tribeca” in a back-to-back marathon. Though it made for an interesting marketing move, the show is much easier to watch in smaller doses. At its worst, “Angie Tribeca” is an aggravating half-hour comedy that’s too repetitive for its own good. But at its best, “Angie Tribeca” is an intelligent, amusing satire that boasts a view on how the crime genre can be both captivating and utterly outrageous.

Grade: B

On Millennial Slang

“That’s literally me af.” “The party is gonna be turnt!” “Sarah Jessica Parker is bae.” “I’m so hungry rn.” “Yaaasss queen!” “LMAO, I’m dying!” “The club is hella lit tonight.” “Netflix and chill?”

If you’ve heard any of these phrases, you have either encountered a millennial or are one.

In every generation, people are primarily defined by the period in which they live. And in each period, a variety of buzzwords define the culture of the moment. They can range from fashion to film, music to art and TV to literature. But perhaps the most significant of them all is language, specifically the slang used by the generation of the time. For millennials — people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s — the current slang is notable for its hyper-condensed diction and common usage in social media. In addition to that, millennials have created their own language through texting, and in many cases embedded it into everyday talk. Even regularly used words, such as “literally,” “awkward” and “dying,” have completely new meanings within a millennial context. We don’t often realize it, but millennial slang and texting language play active roles in our daily lives, whether on our phones, on social media or in regular conversation.

Slang

Considering its mass appeal, slang has played an integral part of the culture in each generation. In the 1950s, an age swept up in conservative values, young people used “swell” as their very own colloquialism. “Cool” and “groovy” made their way into the counterculture of the ’60s and ’70s, eventually paving the way for words like “wicked” and “sweet” in the lively era of the ’80s and the grunge scene of the ’90s. The early ’00s contained a slew of slang like “redic,” “redonculous,” “whack,” “dope” and “sick” that spewed from the mouths of the youth. These words aimed to go against the traditional vernacular, as well as to give a collective personality to the people who uttered them. Nowadays, slang is just as creative and innovative as before, yet it’s changing at a breakneck speed.

While movies, TV shows and music have become crucial in influencing slang both in the past and in the present, the increasing omnipresence of social media and social networking have provided millennials with platforms onto which we can constantly send and receive written and spoken messages. Through popular sources like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Tumblr and Vine, millennials have more access not only to new information, but also to the most up-to-date lingo. According to Julie Coleman, author of “The Life of Slang,” words are moving around the world within weeks and months because of social media. “It’s not necessarily that language is changing more quickly,” Coleman writes. “But technologies have developed and they allow the transmission of slang terms to pass from one group to another much more quickly.”

Indeed, several of these technologies have determined the way in which millennials communicate with one another, especially with the invention of Twitter and its distinctive 140-character limit (at least for now). Several news websites, such as MTV.com and Buzzfeed, have adapted millennial slang into their headlines and articles (i.e. “21 Bold AF Hair Colors To Try In 2016”). Through the interconnected environment of the Internet, millennial slang has also been influenced by the reinvention of memes — humorous images, videos, GIFs or texts that are copied and spread online. Since the first well-known meme, the popular “Kilroy was here” graffiti in the 1940s, the “meme” has become a modern worldwide phenomenon on the Internet and other social media platforms. One of 2015’s most pervasive was a man screaming “What are those?!” at a police officer’s shoes. Memes may not necessarily be considered language, or even slang for that matter. However, through the technological advancement of the Internet, they do carry a cultural significance that has shaped the way millennials communicate and understand one another.

In addition to social media and Internet memes, celebrities seem to hold some influence over the way in which language pervades the psyche of the millennial generation. Around 2010, rappers Soulja Boy and Lil B helped popularize the word “swag” in their songs “Pretty Boy Swag” and “Wonton Soup,” respectively. Throwback to middle school. In 2011, hip-hop artist and pop culture icon Drake publicized the acronym “YOLO” (which stands for “you only live once,” for those still living under a rock) in his rap anthem, “The Motto.” This past year, DJ Khaled, the famed music producer behind the ubiquitous pump-up jam “All I Do Is Win” and other hits, became a prominent source of entertainment, when he shared his own catch phrases on his Snapchat story. Whether he was riding on a jet ski in the dark or watering his plants, almost every one of DJ Khaled’s Snapchats had the producer saying, “Bless up,” “The key to success” or “They don’t want you to … ” to whomever was watching. Given his larger-than-life personality, 2.8 million Instagram followers and major popularity on Snapchat, DJ Khaled is among many of today’s celebrities who exude the spirit and mood of the millennial generation.

Millennial slang may as well be a way in which we distinguish ourselves from other generations, but there does seem to be larger social implications within the language itself.

“Young people are interested in expressing themselves in a distinctive way that makes them feel like they’re part of something,” said Communications Prof. Scott Walker Campbell, who is also a mobile communications researcher. “The fact that millennials have a distinctive way of speaking and some distinctive lingo doesn’t make the generation distinctive, because my generation did the same thing.”

As Campbell also points out, slang is simply a cultural trend that every generation has, yet it manifests and looks different within different generations.

“It’s what generations do,” Campbell said. “They come together, have distinctive qualities, distinctive tastes in music, in fashion and also in language.”

Perhaps slang is more than just a reflection of the current culture. Perhaps it’s a subtle rebellious response to our parent’s generation. But more importantly, the slang that’s used today can stem from a desire to be recognized, a drive to become viral and leave a cultural legacy behind.

“There are new ways for individual people to have a voice and participate in a network and system of communication that is kind of unlimited,” Campbell said. “It’s not about money, but about being clever and entertaining and cool.”

This leads to the idea that people who use slang online and on social media are accruing commercial value. In this age of virality, hashtags and instant celebrity, millennials want to be recognized and slang is a way in which they can do that, not just within the realm of social networking, but with the rest of society.

Texting language

In addition to slang, texting has developed into a language of its own for millennials. With the revolution of the modern cell phone in the early 2000s, texting has dramatically affected the communication millennials use in their everyday lives.

“Millennials are certainly using their thumbs as much or more than we’ve seen in past generations,” Campbell said.

Because texting involves quick, rapid-fire responses, a methodical process has been cultivated as a result, where commonly used words and phrases have become abbreviated. Some examples include “to be honest” changing to “tbh,” “very” into “v” and “okay” into the universally abhorred “k.”

“There’s this idea that texting is chaos and that young people don’t know how to use grammar,” said English professor Anne Curzan. “But I think it’s very systematic.”

As an educator and historian in the field of the English language, Curzan understands that older and younger people have very different perceptions on the way language is used today, specifically with changes in punctuation. An example she uses to demonstrate this idea to students and adults is the word “okay.” She writes the word three times — one by itself, one with a period and one with a dot-dot-dot. When shown to younger people, all three words have very different meanings, with “okay.” invoking a sense of seriousness and “okay … ” invoking a feeling of skepticism. For the older individuals observing the three words, they have no idea what the difference is.

“If you actually ask prolific texters under the age of 30 how they are doing this, they can tell how to use the correct punctuation,” Curzan said.

Millennials also pay very close attention to every single detail in our texts, so much in fact that we tend to nitpick at our words out of fear that the person on the other end of the conversation will take the message in the wrong way.

“There’s this idea that younger people in this generation don’t care about language,” Curzan said. “I just don’t think there’s evidence for that. I talk with students, and they are very attentive with details. Spoken and written language is how we present ourselves to the world.”

Curzan also believes that texting is “rapid and very much like a dialogue, but you can’t see the person most of the time.” However, as she mentions, texting has adapted to try to create some form of tone and emotional expression through acronyms like “lol” and, more recently, emojis. By using these shortened forms of written speech, millennials are better able to express themselves in new and interesting ways. Emojis have particularly grown in popularity ever since their international inclusion on the iPhone. They have revolutionized and enhanced textual communication by literally emoting the thoughts and feelings of the person behind the phone. People can choose from a diverse palette of emojis to express emotion, whether it’s using “the heart eyes” emoji to flirt or the “face with tears of joy” emoji to show a hysterical reaction to something.

As CollegeHumor hilariously satirized in a 2014 video, titled “How We’ll All Talk in The Future,” emojis could potentially find their way into colloquial language. The clip depicts two young women having a conversation using emojis instead of words. In the context of the video, the emoji of the “face that looks like Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ ” apparently translates to “no way!” This probably won’t be the way people will actually speak in the future, but the video makes a compelling point about how powerful and prevalent emojis, and texting language in general, have become for millennials.

Lingo as a linguistic merit

Like text messaging, it’s easy to dismiss slang as a simple form of primitive speech. But for a while now, slang has been recognized as having linguistic merit, according to Curzan.

“Slang is linguistic creativity at work,” she said. “Part of being human is being creative with language and slang is language at some of its most creative.”

This seems to be the opinion of not only Curzan, but the linguistic community at large. Each year, the people behind Oxford Dictionary, Merriam-Webster and the American Dialect Society, the latter of which Curzan is part of, decide which words are the oddest, most innovative and most popular of the year. For most publications, the word of the year is chosen based on how frequently the word is used or how new the word is. Most recently, Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year technically wasn’t even a word; it was the “face with tears of joy” emoji. For Merriam-Webster, the word of the year was “-ism.” The American Dialect Society chose “they” (referring to the singular gender-neutral pronoun) as their WOTY. Other recent winners for WOTY have included “#blacklivesmatter,” “hashtag,” “app” and “tweet.”

As informal as slang can be, it shapes culture both universally and exclusively. It gives a voice to generations and morphs constantly with the changing of technology and media. But most importantly, as linguist Stephen Pinker once said, language itself “is not so much a creator and shaper of human nature so much as a window onto human nature.”

That’s pretty lit.