Michael / Atratus (mbarrick) wrote,
Michael / Atratus

A "Press Kit" of Sorts

These are my responses to an e-mail interview this morning:

1) Why did you originally draw pedobear next to the mascots? Was it just for laughs, or to make a statement?

Let's start with a little bit of semantics, I didn't "draw" Pedobear next to the mascots, but rather created a composite image digitally using pre-existing artwork. Where the artwork for Pedobear originally came from is lost in the dark corners of 2-chan. The legitimate mascots in the artwork of the mascots that got published in the Gazeta Olsztyńska (http://gazetaolsztynska.wm.pl/) came from a fan-art drawing by Angela Melick at http://www.spikecomix.com/gallery/displayimage.php?album=3&pos=2

It was not intended this as a larger statement on the Olympics, but just a visual critique of how the style of the mascots resembles the style of Pedobear, which was a long-standing, pre-existing meme. http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/pedobear

2) Where did you post it?

I originally posted the image, along with another one where the same Pedobear image was used in a composite with some official artwork (and, incidentally, it was this other image derived from official artwork that was appearing on the first page of a Google image search for "Vancouver 2010 Mascots" at the point of the Gazeta Olsztyńska's mistake) in my blog on July 3, 2009, http://mbarrick.livejournal.com/882235.html

Last Thursday (February 4th) I was going over the statistic from my web log and reposted (http://mbarrick.livejournal.com/894999.html ) the images, along with a screen-shot from Google Images showing the ranking of my image , because I was amused that I had roughly 27,000 views of that post in January, representing about a third of the traffic to my blog for the month of January, presumably because of the high Google ranking. It's worth noting that two places down from where my image is, is the fan art image by Angela Melick. Everything appearing on that first page is official Vancouver 2010 artwork.

After making that post Thursday evening, I found Friday morning I had received comments from several people, mostly in Poland, pointing out the mistake in Poland.

From two pre-existing images I formed the initial snowball, and the rest of the avalanche has happened on its own, set off by the Gazeta Olsztyńska's mistake.

Once locals in Olsztyn noticed the mistake, several took picture or made scans of the paper and uploaded them to various websites, such as wykop.pl, which, I'm told, is the Polish equivalent to Digg. Because most people find it amusing, it quickly went viral. I guess it's true that nothing travels as fast as a good joke.

It also turns out that the Gazeta Olsztyńska is not the only publication to make the mistake. They've now corrected it, but I was sent a link to a Spanish sports blog that made the same mistake. I blogged about it here: http://mbarrick.livejournal.com/895503.html

And today it's been pointed out to me (http://mbarrick.livejournal.com/895503.html?thread=3339023#t3339023 ) that a Dutch television directory, "Avrobode" (http://www.avro.nl/avro/avrobode/ ), has also published the image in their print edition - http://www.mbarrick.net/livejournal/2010/02/Avrofail.jpg

[Update, Feb. 11] German newspaper Die Glocke ("The Bell") has also published the picture. http://mbarrick.livejournal.com/899605.html

[Update, Feb. 19] "Žmonės", a TV guide published in Vilnius, Lithuania has also published one of the picures

3) The artistic style IS really similar. Did you make that observation yourself, or is this something people are talking about online?

It was a connect I made myself. My initial reaction to seeing the mascots was, essentially, "How embarrassing. We have mascots that look like Pedobear."

I certainly wasn't the first or only person to see the resemblance. Here are four antecedent examples of other people seeing the resemblance that I was able to find on Monday and linked to from by blog:
November 16, 2007 - http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=120402001
November 29, 2007 - http://boingboing.net/2007/11/29/vancouver-2010-olymp.html#comment-87252
November 11, 2007 - http://www.notcot.com/archives/2007/11/2010_vancouver.php#comment-27124
May 24, 2009 - http://nutcasenightmare.newgrounds.com/news/post/316817 (see the third comment down)

I didn't much like the Inukshuk logo either. I did another composite back in 2006 comparing it to the rock monster in "Galaxy Quest" http://mbarrick.livejournal.com/770835.html

And you can see from the text in that post I was also critical of the overspending already going on.

4) How do you feel about the fact that so close to the start of the games, your picture is showing up in Google searches of the mascots?

In a word, amused. And it seems a lot of other people are, too. I've had a lot of positive feedback.

5) You may have already answered this is question 1, but do you have any concerns or criticisms about the Games?

Yes, certainly. I never was a supporter of the Vancouver bid. I saw the mess that was left behind by Expo '86 and didn't want to see that happen again.

As an artist I am concerned about what will happen with arts funding once the Cultural Olympiad is over. The province has overspent and in their cash-strapped state have slashed arts funding by 92%, which will be a critical blow to the small arts groups that create and promote local culture unique to the province. I also have a problem with how the city came up with the $110 million dollars to cover the cost overruns on the Olympic Village for the sake of a two-week long event, yet at the same time cannot muster the tiny fraction of that required to keep a unique and decades-old Vancouver landmark, The Bloedel Conservatory, open.

It's ironic that, as happened with Expo '86, so much of the effort being put into present Vancouver as a "world class city" is happening at the expense of what makes a city truly stand out on "the world stage" -- its own unique character.

An analogy I have made in the past is that Vancouver is a lot like a nervous but otherwise bright and attractive teenager trying way too hard to fit in with the older kids, not lacking any potential, but lacking the confidence to really come into its own. Vancouver always seems flailing around, shouting, "I can do that, too!" and afraid that we'll get laughed at for anything  out of the ordinary, instead of confidently doing our own thing whether "the world" notices or not. You simply can't be extraordinary by consciously and purposefully trying to be ordinary.


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Tags: 2010 olympics, internet culture, internet kitsch, meme, pedobear, vancouver
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