Meet Wenlock & Mandeville (or maybe not so much)

I had planned to tackle the subject of Olympic mascots earlier, but more important things (i.e., baseball) came up.  So here we go:

I love the Olympics; I’ve made no secret about that here.  Every four years I develop a strong case of Olympic fever (though more so with the winter than the summer).  And yet something happened recently in Olympic world that even I cannot defend; something that sent the Internets into a tizzy:  London 2012 unveiled their Olympic mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville.  And everyone all over the world, English-speaking or not, went, “Blech”.

Your London 2012 Olympic mascots.

They look like rejected Teletubbies.  They look like colored cyclops (they are, bizarrely, cyclops).  They look like hippie silverware.  They look, well, disturbingly phallic.

And here’s the thing:  Can you even remember one Olympic mascot, successful or not?  (The best I could come up with was Sam the eagle, from the ’84 Los Angeles games, designed, not surprisingly by The Walt Disney Co.  And that mascot is clearly jingoistic.)  Do you, the Olympic viewer, have any fond recollections of Waldi the dachshund (’72 Munich), Izzy (’96 Atlanta) or the Fuwa (’08 Beijing)?  The Olympics weren’t too long ago–  can anyone, including myself, tell me who the mascots were?  (For the record: Miga, Quatchi and Sumi.)  And why do all these mascots have fake cute names that only children can pronounce?

Mascot redesign option # 1

Sadly, it was not the Sam the Eagle.

According to Sports Illustrated, these two pre-schoolers-on-acid mascots took 18 months and 40 focus groups.  Uh, what?  We have animators and artists on this planet turning robots into lovable protagonists, creating rats who cook and turtles who are ninjas at the age most of us hit puberty, and we got…  Wenlock and Mandeville?  They don’t even look British; I mean, I could come up with Big Ben the mascot in 10 minutes with a pack of magic markers.  And who are freaking Olympic mascots for, anyway?  Kids?  They couldn’t care less.  Aren’t Olympic mascots Michael Phelps and Lindsey Vonn?  To say nothing of Bob Costas?

Well, I guess it could be worse.  The Olympics could take a page from the World Cup and have racist mascots.

Mascot redesign option # 2

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