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international news _ 12th July, 2006

Smiley Culture's Acid House War

Text by Jonty Skrufff (Skrufff.com)

US corporate giant Walmart is trying to copyright acid house’s original Smiley face logo, the Guardian reported this week, prompting a legal battle with a French company SmileyWorld who own the copyright in 80 countries.

SmileyWorld, run by Franklin Loufrani who claimed to invent the symbol in the 60s, told the Guardian they’ll be repositioning the smiley away from dance culture, if they win, and claimed it no longer has much connection anyway.

“According to our last survey, of 4,070 Europeans aged 13-24, people relate the smiley to happiness, a smile, internet communication and a warm welcome,” Monsieur Loufrani’s son Nicholas told the paper, “The association with house music comes at number seven.”

Ironically, the smiley face’s relationship with club culture was tarnished almost from the start, when the Sun newspaper embraced acid house as ‘cool and groovy’ and started promoting 'Acid Smiley Face T-Shirts' in 1988. Within weeks they were already running headlines including the 'Evil of Ecstasy' on October 19th 1988, while the smiley itself became associated with mainstream clubbing of the lowest common denominator.

“By the early 90's in the UK, house music had a smiley face label stuck on it and had been homogenised – it was basically stuck in its own groove,” acid pioneer Guy Called Gerald said last year, highlighting its status as

“And even today, listening to some of the newer (what's supposedly) dance music and seeing the superstar DJs who appeared out of the pseudo house scene, only fuels my rebel energy,” he added.

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