Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Fixed Result In Mascot Vote?

So the results are in. You might remember this recent post about the online poll to select the mascot or mascots for the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014 (my favorite was the skiing dolphin). Well the votes are in and three have been chosen: Rad, a snowboarding snow leopard, a polar bear and a bunny rabbit; great, right?

Well, by an amazing coincidence, Rad the Snow Leopard just happens to be the favorite choice of Vladimir Putin, while his co-regent, President Dmitry Medvedev was said to have liked the polar bear since in Russian “Medvedev” is a named derived from the word for bear (“medved”). Of course since this is Russia, there has to be more to the story... The Moscow Times was quick to report that there was suspicion that the online results were rigged since a choice that had led the online polling for months, a psychedelic blue frog named “Zoich” was unceremoniously dropped by judges just before the final round, despite the groundswell of public support. Zoich's designer patterned him after the Hypnotoad, a mind-controlling amphibian featured in the cartoon Futurama, the Sochi judging committee though didn't appreciate the joke and found Zoich to be more “depressing” than amusing.

Two other aspiring mascots dropped from the race were a cartoon saw – “sawing the budget” is Russian slang for the bribes that go along with any official project, and Sochi is already said to be running over-budget, and a character named "Stakasha", a name derived from the word for “glass”, but also Russian slang for being drunk; it's really not surprising that the Sochi would withhold their blessing from either. Of course, my first thought on seeing the bear character that was selected, who is admittedly quite cute, was that it reminded me of “Fatov”, the faux-mascot Bart Simpson created from a picture of his dad Homer and that he passed off as the mascot for the Sochi Games. According to Bart, Fatov celebrated “the Russian spirit of sloth and alcoholism.” Probably not what the Sochi selection committee was aiming for...

Final word on the mascot selection goes to Russia's noted opposition politician and political gadfly Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who was happy to blast away at the mascot choices: “The bear is the dumbest animal, the leopard is bloodthirsty, and the hare a coward who always runs away.”
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