The Mascots of the Olympics!
Okay, so unless you've been living under a rock like a pertader-bug, you know that in a little over 24-hours the opening ceremony for the 2010 Winter Olympiad will be happening. And guess who is just as excited as heck to watch it?!?! That's right! I may be super-cynical and dislike all things mainstream and pedestrian (not to mention my steadfast hatred of all televised sports) but I get so thoroughly jazzed for the Olympics. I think it's the aggressive competition since I'm from a country full of Olympic underdogs; Canada's not like the US, where you KNOW you're going to win 99% of the events (both Summer and Winter, you douchebags) but we're not some rinky-dink tiny-town country like The People's Republic of Matti-Matti where you have one delegate and they have a better chance of finding a finger in their Coke than even so much as looking at the winner's podium. Also this Olympiad is in my country, bitches! We are going to deliver so much rashy red pwnage that your balls will burn for weeks (well...at Hockey. The other sports will probably domashize us pretty hard. But Hockey...we've definitely got that one in the bag).
Anyways, I thought it would be fun to go back and take a look at my favourite part of the Olympics: the mascots! Santo Dios, the mascots! Is there nothing shittier or more thrown-together-last-minute looking than the Olympic mascot? The best part is they have at least 4 years to create something cute and they usually end up failing so hard their designs ruin their careers. So let's take a look back at the Hits and Misses of the Olympic Mascots!
HIGHER, FASTER, STRONGER! (the best of the best)
SPECIES: Dog (specifically Wiener)
COUNTRY: Munich, Germany
YEARS ACTIVE: Summer 1972
First up we have Waldi, the adorable wienerdog from Germany. I like when a country goes "We're known for Lederhosen and wienerdogs...fuck it, just make the mascot a wienerdog wearing lederhosen". It's a good thing they did cute too, because what's the first thing you think of when someone says Germany? Hitler, exactly. And what's the exact opposite of Hitler? PUPPIES!!1!
COUNTRY: Montreal, Canada
YEARS ACTIVE: Summer 1976
Speaking of adorable, meet Amik the beaver! Amik can double as a mascot for the Pride Parade, so not only is he an example of good design, he's also a beacon of thrift and getting your money's worth. Also, doesn't Amik look like he was created by Milton Glaser? I like that.
COUNTRY: Moscow, Russia
YEARS ACTIVE: Summer 1980
SQUEEEEE!!!! Look at him! Have you ever seen a bear with such bold "cuddle me" body language? Look at that face - how could you boycott such an adorable bundle of fur? Exactly. SHAME ON YOU, AMERICA.
COUNTRY: Seoul, Korea
YEARS ACTIVE: Summer 1988
I think I'm getting the theme of successful Olympic mascots: go cute or go home. When in doubt, take an animal, give it big eyes/soft fur, make it small/fat/round, and give it a cute 2-syllable name. Don't deviate from this winning formula.
* I know that Hodori is 3-syllables, but his name contains part of the word adorable, so it works.
NAME: Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying, Nini (aka The Fuwa)
SPECIES: Fish, Giant Panda, Olympic Flame, Tibetan Antelope, Swallow (respectfully)
COUNTRY: Beijing, China
YEARS ACTIVE: Summer 2008
Oh lord, SEE WHAT I MEAN?!?! The Fuwa were like the LOLcats of the mascot world: short, cat-like, adorable hats, Asian. I wouldn't have accepted anything less from the continent that brought us Hello Kitty and Shiba-Inus.
NAME: Sumi, Quatchi, Miga
SPECIES: Some kind or Urban Legend, Sasquatch, Mythical Sea-bear
COUNTRY: Vancouver, Canada
YEARS ACTIVE: Winter 2010
Thank god my country got our mascots right for this year's Winter Olympiad. We could have easily (and lazily) just called up the creator of Chilly Beach and asked them (whom I'm assuming is Satan) to create a forgettable, ugly mascot. Instead, we called up Meomi and got three (4 if you count Mukmuk the Downs Syndrome Marmot) adorable happy fake animals. That's right! Canada is known for the beaver and house cats, so we needed to make up some animals. And by "make up some animals", I of course mean "throw some scarves on a couple of cast-off Northern-looking Hello Kitty characters".
SLOWER, DUMBER, LAMER (mascots so lame not even blind children wanted one)
COUNTRY: Grenoble, France
YEARS ACTIVE: Winter 1968
Womp womp, what is this? It looks like a sperm on skis. Although we are talking about France, so...
COUNTRY: Lake Placid, USA
YEARS ACTIVE: Winter 1980
True story! Roni was actually a real raccoon that died moments before the games were to begin, so they whipped up this stupid looking human-with-the-head-of-a-raccoon creature to replace him. Know what would have been a better replacement? FINDING ANOTHER RACCOON. It's not like they're rare - fuck, I know of 3 completely different raccoons that dig through my garbage every night. Take one of mine!
COUNTRY: Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
YEARS ACTIVE: Winter 1984
Whoah, slow down there buddy - you look like you're about to roofie my drink. Vučko is exactly like how I stereotype guys from Bosnia/Herzegovina: pushy Eastern-European Eurotrash who are about 13 years behind on fashion, 20 year behind on popular music, and so new to a life outside crippling poverty they hoard all their toilet paper and soap.
Note: NONE of what I just said made any sense.
COUNTRY: Los Angeles, USA
YEARS ACTIVE: Summer 1984
Ugh. Fuck. This is why you don't let the animators at Disney design your mascot. You catch them at the worst time (right after the 1960s Disney Golden Age, but right before the 1990s Disney Renaissance - aka Oliver and Company time) so all they can do is pull together scraps of Disney characters to form a shitty bald eagle. Plus, he's modeled after Uncle Sam who, in essence, is an American mascot. That's right - you made a mascot based on another mascot. And you named him THE EXACT SAME NAME. Someone got paid handsomely for this, btw. Remember that when you're eating Ramen Noodles for the 600th time this year.
NAME: Hidy and Howdy
SPECIES: Polar bears
COUNTRY: Calgary, Canada
YEARS ACTIVE: Winter 1988
It wouldn't be fair of me to make fun of Olympic mascots and give 2 glowing reviews to Canadian ones, so here is where I take an unbiased approach to explaining why Hidy and Howdy are two pieces of FAIL. First off, they made two mascots that couldn't been seen without each other, ever. I liked it better when it was called Donnie and Marie Osmond. Second, what the hell is with the primary colour scheme? Was our budget that low? Thirdly, Hidy and Howdy are basically redneck hillbillies: they live in Calgary (farmland), their cowboy hats are permanently affixed to their heads, they're brother and sister but have this creepy, incestuous relationship. Welcome to Canada!
SPECIES: Dog (specifically, Catalan Sheep)
COUNTRY: Barcelona, Spain
YEARS ACTIVE: Summer 1992
What. The. Fuck. Is. This? This is supposed to be a dog. A dog?!?! Are you getting dog from this? I can see sick cat on its last trip to the vet, or even local pervert who can't keep his clothes on and therefore isn't allowed in any neighborhood with an Elementary School, but dog? Someone dropped the ball here.
NAME: Olly, Syd, Millie
SPECIES: Kookaburra, Platypus, Echinda (respectfully)
COUNTRY: Sydney, Australia
YEARS ACTIVE: Summer 2000
Oh my god, BOOOOOOORINGGGGGGGGG. They had the perfect animals at their fingertips - the Kangaroo - and tossed it aside for 3 extremely boring and uninteresting animals (not to mention one that the third one has a face that looks like a dick and balls). Seriously, why didn't they pick a mascot that was a kangaroo? Or at least a kangaroo drinking a can of Fosters (that would have been amazing).
NAME: Copper, Powder, Coal
SPECIES: Coyote, Snowshoe Hare, Bear (respectfully)
COUNTRY: Salt Lake City, USA
YEARS ACTIVE: Winter 2002
Oh Christ, America, were there that many unused characters from Brother Bear? I feel like someone just searched the dumpster behind the Disney studios for these guys. Albeit they're tolerable, they're not creative in any way and their names bother me. Copper? That's a name for a Golden Retriever. Powder? There's only one Powder in my life, and it isn't this rabbit. Coal? Is that offensive to Black people? Why didn't they just go with Brown Thing, Hoppy and Grizzle. Just as lame, just as forgettable.
NAME: Neve and Gliz
SPECIES: Anthropomorphized snowball and ice cube
COUNTRY: Turin, Italy
YEARS ACTIVE: Winter 2006
This was seriously the best Italy could do. Know who would have been two way better mascots? That's right - the pillars of Italian heritage and hard-work themselves: MARIO AND LUIGI. They'd be perfect. They're both Italian, their coveralls reflect the colors of the Italian flag, their bushy moustaches are comical. Plus, with instant recognition, people would actually have given a shit about the Turin Olympics (wasn't it like the least-watched Winter games or something? Maybe I just didn't care). Regardless, don't Neve and Gliz look like total simpletons?
WHAT THE FUCK?!? (no seriously, was this mascot the result of a government-sponsored coloring contest?)
COUNTRY: Innsbruck, Austria
YEARS ACTIVE: Winter 1976
Schneemann looks like a crappy Dollar Store Christmas decoration. Why not just make your mascot Santa, for Chrissakes.
SPECIES: Your guess is as good as mine
COUNTRY: Albertville, France
YEARS ACTIVE: Winter 1992
Speaking of crappy $1 Christmas decorations, meet Magique - the lamest human/non-human hybrid on the list. He narrowly beat out Roni as being the worst, but only because where Roni is questionable at best, Magique is just downright ridiculous. So...he's a star? But with a man's face? But...was he born that way, or was it the result of a freak accident? So many questions I don't need answered in order to sleep at night.
NAME: Håkon and Kristin
COUNTRY: Lillehammer, Norway
YEARS ACTIVE: Winter 1994
Sike! Are you looking at this?!?! A mascot is supposed to be colorful and playful and easily re-created into stuffed animals, not be the living embodiment of children. Who was the designer, Michael Jackson? Ooooooh, I know - cheap shot, even after the man's death.
NAME: Sukki, Nokki, Lekki, Tsukki (aka The Snowlets)
COUNTRY: Nagano, Japan
YEARS ACTIVE: Winter 1998
Never have I seen a drawing with such an obvious influence from hard-core narcotics. Is Nagano a big opium town? This looks like the kind of drawings I make after I'm finished cleaning my poorly-ventilated bathroom with Comet.
NAME: Athena and Phevos
SPECIES: Humans (?)
COUNTRY: Athens, Greece
YEARS ACTIVE: Summer 2004
ATTACK OF THE WIENER PEOPLE! All jokes aside, I feel dirty looking at Athena and Phevos. Also, why wasn't their mascot a character from Greek Mythology? How cool would a cartoon centaur have been? Couldn't they have put it to a vote? The Greeks invented Democracy.
"They also invented homos!"
- "Fuck you!"
"You wish! You gotta buy me dinner first!"
Oh Ghost World, is there anything you can't make better?
AND LAST PLACE GOES TO...
NAME: Izzy aka The Atlanta Whatzit
SPECIES: Visual tragedy
COUNTRY: Atlanta, USA
YEARS ACTIVE: Summer 1996
Never has an Olympic mascot held so much widespread contempt than the Atlanta Whatzit, an image of pure hatred. You know, the funny thing is when I first saw Izzy back in 1996 (I won't admit my age, but let's just say I was really into getting my period for the first time) I thought to myself "Wow. That is just so terrible." Hello! A dumb teenage idiot could realize that Izzy was a bad decision! Who the hell green-lit this monstrosity?! Oh well, we can only hope that London or Rio de Janiero will make something even worse and finally let Izzy retire to the Olympic Graveyard.