Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pop Culture Musings: Creepy Corporate Mascots

You know, corporations can be evil. (Shock, right?) But it's hard to take things out on CEOs. Those of you who have seen Roger and Me know that yelling at a CEO for cutting jobs or canceling your favorite product gets you at best an icy smile.

When things go wrong, who gets the short end of the stick? That's right, the poor hapless mascots. So who's on the Island of Misfit Mascots? And who's about to get voted off?

Ronald McDonald

No, not because he's a clown. Because he's the face of the obesity epidemic. An advocacy group in Boston is trying to ban him for marketing unhealthy food to impressionable youth.

But come on. The fact that kids eat McDonald's in spite of the horrifying mascots is what convinces me that the stuff is crack. Talking McNuggets straight out of the Donner Party? What was up with the Fry Kids--were they the unholy union of Cousin It and an amputee wannabe? And don't even get me started on the Grimace. No one at corporate has ever been able to answer for me what a Grimace is without stuttering and offering me a free coupon for a kiddie fry.

Ronald's the least scary option. Poor Ronald. He served McD's well. But due to fears of roaming fat kids, they dropped him faster than a Jezebel commenter criticizes Jessica Simpson's cultural insensitivity. Hell, no one will even sit with him in the mascot cafeteria at lunch. Not even Joe Camel. Which brings me to...

Joe Camel

I've been so thoroughly indoctrinated against Joe C. that to be honest I feel a little guilty even putting his picture up on my blog. When I was a kid, all I remember was the backlash against him. He stood for all that was evil in the 90s. Joe C. was our Osama Bin Laden, our Saddam, and our Perez Hilton rolled into one.

Looking back now, I don't think of him as evil. I think of him as a douchebag. Think Bowser from ShaNaNa, but douchier. Look at that tight black t-shirt with the cigs in the upper arm sleeve. He's a step away from getting his own line of designer wifebeaters at Ed Hardy. And no, you're not Corey Hart, so put down the sunglasses. I've even seen you wearing them on nighttime shoots!

Plus, you know how camels spit. I bet Joe gets up to some really disgusting shit in between the sheets. Joe, you're every Bridge and Tunnel loser that I hate. Get in your mid life crisis mobile and go back to reading The Game.

The Cookie Crisp Guys

They didn't ban the Cookie Crisp mascots. But the ads used to emphasize Cookie Crook and Chip the Dog plotting to steal the cereal while Officer Crumb shook his fist powerlessly. But per wiki, having the kiddies identify with a thief seemed somehow wrong, so Officer Crumb became the victor. (Damn, and there goes my idea for Patty Hearst'Os with Stockholm Syndrome causing ring as a cereal prize.)

Later, the whole "cop/robber" thing was dropped in favor of just having Chip the Dog as the mascot. Apparently, cops and robbers were deemed too complicated for the kids. In world where we've experienced Rodney King, Amadou Diallo, and The Wire, identifying with a cop is fraught with just as much tension as identifying with a criminal.

Cookie Monster

I know, they haven't banned him outright. If they did, that would be the last straw. A group of resentful Muppets led by Sam the Eagle would probably rise up in revolt and march around Mr. Hooper's old store with Elmo and Abby Caddaby's heads on a pike.

But they've taken away Cookie's raison d'etre. Cookies are a something food? No, a turducken is a sometimes food. Soma flavored ice cream is a sometimes food. Trout flavored ice cream--that's a sometimes food. Cookies are an always food, and I will continue to preach that as long as I have this blog. Now, where's my Sesame Street themed insulin pump?


Clippy, you were entirely unnecessary. And even when I did manage to type a letter in Word without spontaneously combusting both myself and the laptop, I always knew you're going to pop up if I hesitated a nanosecond before writing a second paragraph. I hated the feeling that you were lurking, reading over my shoulder. Clippy, I'm going to have to quote Real Housewife Bethany--get a hobby. Go make wine in Napa. Start a book group. Spread evil rumors about binder clips. You're not needed any longer.

For once, though, people agreed with me. Clippy is no more, and I will shed no tears for him. Forget pro smoking ungulates or sugar hawking muppets--Clippy is truly the face of corporate evil.

The Ch-Ch-Charmins Bears

They like to be clean. And it's a cute take on "Does a bear shit in the woods?" But seeing them shake their asses after a good wipe with the passion and soul of repressed white people in the early 60s being taught to swivel their hips to The's too much.

It's especially bad when I have to see close ups of the toilet paper sticking to their furry behinds. A bidet, stat. No, no one's gotten rid of these mascots yet, but I wish they would. Ban the bear!

Taco Bell Dog

Gidget, the Taco Bell dog, got the axe because she was considered a harmful stereotype. Latin American groups got her canned. To which I respond, how come poor Gidget who was a positive image had to go and nobody said boo about Tito from Oliver and Company? Tito, who was stereotypically fiery, was a criminal, and enjoyed sexually harassing Park Avenue poodles to boot?

All the same, it's an important lesson: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can 86 something that you know and love. The same Hispanic lobbyist groups who got Gidget axed were always showing up at my campfires every time I got around to telling the urban legend about the Mexican hairless dog who ends up being a rabid sewer rat, demanding that the breed of dog be changed to Scottish terrier or Welsh corgi.

So, which of these do you think is the creepiest mascot?