TV star, partygoer, bestselling scribe Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi has become an icon of something in our culture, and as soon as I figure out what that is, I will write a follow-up blog post. For now, the pint-sized “Jersey Shore” star is just spinning the joke off in countless directions while she still can. MTV already has a Snooki iOS app that lets you superimpose the reality TV starlet’s face on your own photos. The exclusive app license holder for (I am not making this up) NEP Snooki Enterprises LLC, Apps Genius, has reversed the polarity of the MTV app in Snookify Me, which lets users put themselves in Snooki stylings. By the way, by contracting App Genius for this gig, the celebrity has guaranteed that there will be at least one case where the words “Snooki” and “genius” appear in the same sentence.
The $1.99 app for iOS and Android is one of those app toys that might actually be used and arguably is one of the better riffs on Polizzi’s warped celebrity. Spread the joke. Understanding that her outrageous hair and clothing/accessory style is the Snooki’s calling card, the app just lets you play colorforms with her and then share the mild yuks. The images can be part of a contest to find the top user-created Snooks.
All bad hair aside, the marriage of app and personality is an area worth pursuing. Celebrity-centric apps that cultivate either fandom or, in this case, celebrity spectacle, are an obvious extension of the intimacy of the smartphone that sometimes gets lost as we look to the device more as a PC.
Years ago, when carriers were still afraid that mobile advertising would pollute customer satisfaction and ringtones underscored how much people regarded their phones as a model of personal expression, it was a given that phone-based media should try to tap into this personal quality. Functionality and “use case” became mantras of the app era, but this notion that there is a highly personal connection between people and their cell phones can be leveraged in a lot of different ways. Creating apps that are in fact people (celebs, for instance) is almost a natural extension of a core function of the phone, maintaining contacts and direct links to your inner circle.
Goofy as it may be, “Snookify Me!” reminds us how the app canvas can be used for portraiture -- to create functions, fun and service around a person, not software, and not necessarily a brand.