While Olympic mascots have grown stranger and incrementally less cute over years, the UK might have come up with the weirdest yet for its 2012 London Summer Olympics. Wenlock and Mandeville — one-eyed figures based on "drops of steel" from the London 2012 stadium — resemble nothing less than "ghoulish cycloptic phalluses," according to one critic. Defending the mascots, the 2012 Olympics chairman Sebastian Coe said research shows kids aren't "looking for a cuddly toy or something human." Are these creatures appropriately inspirational?
This is the best London could do? The Olympics has a proud history of "creepy mascots," says Nancy Armour in The Chicago Tribune. Remember Atlanta's poor “discombobulated” Izzy? Even so, London has enough design icons to draw upon. Couldn't we have had a "fuzzy, red double-decker bus" or a "smiling, chiming Big Ben" rather than "goofy-looking" rejects that "look like they were plucked from a bad modern art museum catalog."
"Stick them in a corner! London's new mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville, roundly panned."
Their design is more about videogames than the Olympics: Vancouver's mascots gave us a "bit of a chortle," says Steve Tilley at The Toronto Sun. But at least they were "friendly, cuddly-looking critters" rather than "metal phallic monstrosities" whose single, unblinking eyes evoke London’s countless surveillance cameras. “I’m pretty sure gamers are blame” for these "video game characters” — the only thing they'll be giving children is "nightmares."
"Gamers to blame for London Olympic mascots"
These are perfect 21st century mascots: Actually, "we think they look rather good," says Mark Sinclair at Creative Review. Remember, these mascots have to appeal across a broad, "unprecedented" range of social media. These "monocular characters have just the right balance of digital zeitgeist and cheeky playfulness" for the "digital age" we live in.
"Wenlock & Mandeville: London's Olympic mascots"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why all drugs should be legal. (Yes, even heroin.)
- The big, gaping hole in the liberal policy arsenal
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- The forgotten victims of the war in Ukraine
- 10 things you need to know today: July 28, 2014
- Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science
- A gay Mormon's complicated journey
- Blame Obama and U.S. evangelicals for the persecution of Iraqi Christians
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
Subscribe to the Week