Passing newspaper boxes today, I could not help but notice the 2010 committee has unveiled the mascots for the redoubtable 2010 Olympic games. My first thought: Didn’t we already have that stone thing? My second: Aren’t they kind of obscure?
But then I remembered that the Inuit inukshuk, a landmark for travelers in the far north, was rejected by most of the common populace, when we saw it. Because Vancouver is not in the Arctic Circle, and the inukshuk has no ties to the spirit of Vancouver. So obviously, THAT design got downgraded to just the logo, and marketing people went into a wild frenzy looking for some more local mascottage.
Squatchi is a sasquatch. Of all three characters, the sasquatch is the best-known creature, but I don’t know who knows of the sasquatch, other than the inhabitants of British Columbia and Washington State. At a glance, people from other countries may think that this mascot is a hairy Barbabpa, or perhaps Hagrid’s love child. This may cause some confusion.
Miga is a sea bear. Again, obscure. Apparently, the sea bear is part bear and part killer whale, and figures in Haida and Tsimshian stories. Miga is black and white and smiley. Just like a bear or orca smiles before they take a big chunk out of you. But not to worry, Miga’s favourite food, apparently, is wild salmon. Perhaps after the Olympics are gone, she could get a gig campaigning against the disease-ridden conditions of the fish farms around here.
Sumi is an aggregate creature who “watches over the creatures of British Columbia” as some kind of animal spirit. I’m fairly certain Sumi is the product of intense marketing meetings where desperate marketers in suits shout things like “More aspirational!” “It needs to be value-added!” “It needs to be a synergistic confluence of the native peoples and their values!” And then everyone goes out for cocaine and hookers. Or is that part of advertising over now? Anyway, Sumi is pretty much a sugar-coated amalgam of traditional Native beliefs about nature. Pretty fricking condescending.
So I give a thumbs-down to the official Olympic mascots. But at least they represent ideas closer to home than the stone thingie. At least they have eyes.