Fourty focus groups. Eighteen arduous months of considerate preparation. A century of Wimbledon, one Rugby World Cup, four Cricket World Cups, a Football World Cup and European Championships, a Commonwealth Games, and two Olympic Games – pre and post World-War-Two. A nation globally regarded as a resourceful contributor to creative expression, and an experienced dearth of history, intelligence, design, and understated credibility on its side. And yet, when asked to create a mascot which encapsulates all that makes England the iron-fisted nation that those across its shores view it as – they come up with these hideous bastards…
|"Why Teletubbies and Daleks should never have sex."|
The idea of my home city hosting the largest sporting event on Earth fills me with a sense of pride, twinged with a slightly raised curious eyebrow – London has many serious issues; a barren youth, filthy streets, and Boris Johnson becoming mayor, purely because he head-butted a former German professional footballers abdomen in a charity football match, as examples. And yet, even though the media seem intent on harbouring the usual negative scare mongering accounts towards the oncoming games – terrorism, lack of funds, travel chaos, etc. I feel Sebastian Coe and co have organised what should turn out to be an event displaying the true marvel of English passion, creativity, and oddly suppressed stoicism. But for all this, I cannot overlook Wenlock and Mandeville; these two monstrosities, chosen as the official London 2012 Olympic Mascots – for the only real feeling I reach when I see them, is how bloody awful they are.
The idea for their creation is simple; the elements of each character represent a portion of the games; the letters on their heads, London Taxi lights. Their heads, the Olympic stadium roof and Paralympics circles. Steely Blue skin - if you can call it skin, for a determined personality, and shiny gold to show the colours of the medals of success, and so forth. I guess we are meant to love all these attributes, even though I had to search Google to find out why exactly they resemble a couple of genetically mutated penises, engineered by Mister Magoo.
It is not that they have been designed as robotic CGI life forms, or their names are as poncey as people drinking Pimms, whilst laughing at irrelevant comedies which attempt to recreate the subtle genius of The Office, and failing miserably, which hold me back from feeling anything for them. It is the reality they look like, or perhaps even are, aliens. And aliens – as evident in movies such as ET, take a lot of work in emotional development, to be accepted as somewhat human in terms of feeling, and therefore cared about and loved; one weekly Beano comic strip, is in nowhere near enough to achieve this.
|"Father Of William"|
The former Government should have sacked every last member of these supposedly “in touch” focus groups, and handed me two-hundred grand; where I could have sat on my arse for eighteen months, catching up with re-runs of Lost and old WCW Pay-Per-Views, only to eventually explain to them the smartest option would have been to introduce the mascot of choice as Young William – the teenage son of World Cup Willie; the still empathetically regarded mascot of the 1966 Football World Cup. Animals are living creatures, and we associate compassion with any impression of them. Plus, with Prince William such a popular figure Worldwide, his name is ideal. England are meant to be a nation of brave, ferocious, almost regal Lions – two bland looking cocks with eyes and wind resistant arms, hardly sum up a history rolling from Germanic tribal warriors, to a revolution of popular music; all leading to the creation of what was essentially 20th century western society.
Perhaps I am wrong, and the modern internet generation pre-teens currently lap up these two fellas; and this whole criticism is merely a reflection of age slowly creeping up on me. But I just don’t like them. Yet again, a bunch of pseudo-intellectual 'experts' have been thrown together in a room full of Marks And Spencer sandwiches, and generation old copies of Whizzer and Chips, and created a product (essentially they are commercial outlets – as evident by the mass marketing surrounding them, even though I can’t see why two Olympic mascots would endorse Macdonald’s cholesterol increasing garbage food), and developed an idea rich in intricate cleverness, and look-closer sobriety. All the while forgetting to stick a heart inside either of these patronising dickheads - shit, even Goleo of World Cup Germany 2006 had a personality. I hope World Cup Willie eats them alive, once they descend to mascot heaven, come the closing hours of September 9th, 2012.