November 12, 2005

"A panda, a carp, a Tibetan antelope, a swallow and the Olympic flame."

See, you would have thought they'd just have one mascot for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and it would be -- obvious! -- the panda. But China's having five mascots, including a carp! But it's not so bad. All but the panda seem to look like cute kids:



And remember the kooky Athens Olympics mascots?



What were they thinking?

Anyway, here's what the Chinese were thinking:
The mascots were presented as Bei Bei, Jing Jing, Huan Huan, Ying Ying and Ni Ni - which, put together reads in Chinese "Beijing welcomes you!"

"They reflect the cultural diversity of China as a multiethnic country," said Liu Qi, President of Beijing Organising Committee.

"They represent the enthusiasm and aspirations of our people, Liu Qi added.

Coloured in the five hues of the Olympic rings, the mascots also represent the sea, forests, fire, earth and air.
See, it makes plenty of sense.

IN THE COMMENTS: Starless:
"A panda, a carp, a Tibetan antelope, a swallow and the Olympic flame...What are the contents of Ed's freezer?"

"Hi-Oh!"

18 comments:

Roger Sweeny said...

Are they Olympic mascots or Captain Planet?

Joe Baby said...

Imagine the pressure on these mascots. Stay in line, or you'll disappear into some wet, dank prison where the ICPM (International Committee for the Protection of Mascots) can't help you.

If that antelope even makes one peep about independence, he'll wish he had be born to a poor Uighur family.

Of course, it could have been worse...one mascot could have represented some Taiwanese animal. [Shudder] Which would have meant the 7th Fleet could cancel all leave for the next year.

bill said...

No mascot will ever be as heinous as the Atlanta Olympic mascot. Izzy, or as many of us in Atlanta referred to him/her/it/wtf as - smurf sperm.

My personal favorite was Cobi, the Barcelona mascot. While Izzy cost hundred of thousands of dollars in computer animation, Cobi was scribbled while the artist was tripping on acid.

Or so I've heard.

Moral of the story: computers = bad art, drugs = good art.

Starless said...

"A panda, a carp, a Tibetan antelope, a swallow and the Olympic flame...What are the contents of Ed's freezer?"

"Hi-Oh!"

Of course, it could have been worse...one mascot could have represented some Taiwanese animal.

Formosan monkey?

[Shudder] Which would have meant the 7th Fleet could cancel all leave for the next year.

Oh, don't worry, they'll still have to cancel leave. China is almost certain to make increasingly aggressive moves toward Taiwan prior to the Olympics.

Icepick said...

Joe Baby, thanks for emphasizing the tragic plight of Chinese mascots!

And Bill wrote: Moral of the story: computers = bad art, drugs = good art.

Ann, any comments? You are the resident artist, after all!

Pastor_Jeff said...

Starless,

LOL! Thanks for a good riff on Carson's classic bit.

I just wrote about the process of creativity and even asked if computers would ever be able to create "art." I think there's something about pressure, danger, or struggle that comes into creativity. I hadn't thought about hallucinogens, though...

bill said...

Before everyone goes off the deep end with the whole computers/art do/donot equal art, obviously I was being facetious. Izzy had many components of its awfulness. Namely a desire to create the perfect inoffensive marketing item to be branded on stuffed animals to martini glasses. That wasn't the computer's fault. If this particular marketing committee had gorged on peyote after an appetizer of toad licking and drew the mascot with crushed berries mixed with their own blood, they'd still have created Izzy. The real problem - uncreative minds.

A computer is a tool. It is just as capable of creating art as a charcoal pencil or a camera or wind blowing over a sand dune.

Now you if insist on pitting computers against drugs because you have nothing else to do (and besides, meaningless arguments are the best kind), I'm out.

Speaking of drugs, we're about 3 hours away from hosting a 4-year-old birthday/tea/princess party. I'm going to need some assistance, so who's holding?

Jeff said...

"They reflect the cultural diversity of China as a multiethnic country," said Liu Qi, President of Beijing Organising Committee.

Boy, do they have a lock on Western PC values, at least when they issue their PRC spin.

According to the CIA World Factbook, China's ethnic composition breaks down something like this:

Han Chinese 91.9%,

Zhuang, Uygur, Hui, Yi, Tibetan, Miao, Manchu, Mongol, Buyi, Korean, and other nationalities 8.1%

Sounds diverse to me! But only the Han are actually "Chinese"?

Starless said...

Pastor_Jeff said...
LOL! Thanks for a good riff on Carson's classic bit.

Thanks. It was the first thing that came to mind when I read the subject line. Of course, only old people and comedy afficianados are going to get it.

Re: drugs = creativity. Everything I've ever read from good artists and musicians who regularly did drugs has said that their good work was done while sober. The drugs were a recreational aspect of their lives. But I can certainly see how Izzy was created by someone while on acid. (And you can certainly tell when musicians are creating music while on drugs, just listen to any of Jerry Garcia's solos. Hi-Oh!)

jeff said...
Sounds diverse to me! But only the Han are actually "Chinese"?

Yes, racism is rampant in China (along with poverty, toxic pollution, virulent disease, and a lack of decent drinking water). It's a longheld tradition that if you aren't Han, you may as well be nobody.

Joe Baby said...

No doubt in China the word diversity = equality of beatings.

Starless said...

Joe Baby said...
No doubt in China the word diversity = equality of beatings.
Beatings can be endured if they have to be, it's the lack of food and water that's going to be a real problem for them.

The Three Gorges Dam, sending men into space, updating their Air Force and Navy are all ways the Chinese are gearing up to say to the rest of the world in 2008, "See! We're a legitimate superpower too!" So it's no surprise that they have five mascots. I imagine they looked at Athens and said, "They had two mascots, well we won't be outdone, we'll have five!" And I'm sure their Olympics will be the most spectacular in history.

The only thing that can really spoil it for them is Taiwan. They've proclaimed loudly to their own people that China cannot be whole without returning all of it's "renegade provinces" to the fold. This galvanizes the people and gives an excuse for the hardships they endure (i.e. the Taiwanese are hording all of the riches you should have). But the Chinese are having a hard time convincing the rest of the major powers in the world that they should be allowed to bully a significantly smaller nation with a democratically elected government and a free, prosperous people.

The geopolitical implications of the 2008 Peking Olympics are huge both for China and Taiwan.

Pastor_Jeff said...

Bill,

I didn't understand your reply - except that part about the kids' party. I recommend a good Chardonnay, taken 20-30 minutes beforehand. Reapply as necessary.

The part about computers confused me. I didn't think a computer literally created Izzy. I was just wondering about the human component in creativity. As computers become more sophisticated, could they be programmed to "create" music, art or poetry through combinations of notes, pixels, and tones? Would it be art?

wildaboutharrie said...

Why are the Athens' mascots penises?

Starless said...

Pastor_Jeff said...
As computers become more sophisticated, could they be programmed to "create" music, art or poetry through combinations of notes, pixels, and tones? Would it be art?

Did Big Blue really beat Gasparov, or did it's programmers?

I'm sure at some point AI will become so advanced that the art it creates will be recognized as Art and will make some people a nice pile of cash.

APF said...

I always liked Cobi too, but the character design for these mascots is overall pretty poor IMO. Take a look at the mascots for the Sydney games f/e (the mascot for the Paralympic games was especially scary).

I do like this description for the Montreal mascot:

Amik means beaver. The beaver symbolizes hard work.

John Harvard said...

Red China using a Tibetan antelope as an Olympic mascot is like Hitler using a menorah to advertise the 1936 Olympics.

Roger Sweeny said...

(And you can certainly tell when musicians are creating music while on drugs, just listen to any of Jerry Garcia's solos. Hi-Oh!)

Not so simple. Among other things, it depends on the drug. Early Jerry often played using marijuana, LSD, or amphetamine (the first album). Frequently, the results were good or at least "interesting."

But Jerry was badly into heroin for a good while in later life and it made him a selfish, and not terribly good, musician. Some of the worst Dead concerts were when Jerry was doing smack (heroin often provides the answer to the question, "Why are they so bad tonight when they were so good last night?).

Starless said...

Roger Sweeny said...
Not so simple. Among other things, it depends on the drug. Early Jerry often played using marijuana, LSD, or amphetamine (the first album). Frequently, the results were good or at least "interesting."

I've always found his playing to be not particularly interesting and sloppy, though I'll give him credit for managing to play those incredibly long shows.

I'm more poking sticks at the notion that somehow "drugs make you more creative" and most accounts I've read have said that they really don't. The creativity was in the individual to begin with. They may have used the experiences they had while on drugs in their music, but when it came to the creative process, the drugs didn't mix well with it. See Rickie Lee Jones in the days when she would try to perform while guzzling Southern Comfort. It's painful to watch.