No pride in Team GB's Olympic mascot Simon Hattenstone

7th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Pride the Lion is a limp retreat to our imperialistic past. It would be more appropriate to use a pigeon to represent us in 2012Pride the Lion, eh? Poor sod. If there's one thing our new mascot would appear to lack, it is pride. No muscles, no genitals, pathetic love-me love-me eyes, a union flag mohican/afro mane, a lobotomised smile and he appears to be made of snow. Pride, Team GB's mascot at the 2012 Olympics, is supposed to represent those great British virtues pride and leonine strength. Unfortunately, he looks like Muttley the dog's drippy brother.Why do we get it so wrong with our mascots? After the mad dash of surrealist imagination that brought us Wenlock and Mandeville, Pride represents a retreat to more conventional terrain. The ruler of the animal kingdom evokes the wreckage of our all-conquering imperialistic past. Ah, Britain the country that rules the waves, that point blank refuses to be slaves; the country that gave us football, cricket, rugby, the steam train.Only that's not really our bag these days. We run banks to bankruptcy, we lose on penalties in the quarter-final of World Cups on a good day, we jump starting guns, we devise The X Factor and Big Brother.The only thing in favour of the creative team that devised Pride is that it does seem to have implicitly acknowledged our changing status. In fact, it might well be the case that Pride has been ironically named. Pride the snow lion that didn't roar. Which is a start.Other countries have been so much more humble or graceful with their mascots. There's the dove from Mexico City in 1968, when the African-American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave their legendary black power salute; the dachshund in Munich in 1972; the beaver in 1976 in Montreal; and, of course, Miga the mythical sea bear last year in Vancouver.Why aren't we more honest with our mascot? Sure, the three lions emblem on the royal arms dates back to at least Richard I in England and Scotland's William I had a thing about lions, but all that's ancient history. It's time for a rethink.Perhaps the Churchillian British bulldog could be customised into, say, a pitbull terrier sinking its fangs into a pensioner? That's British and contemporary. Or a bittern a lovely little mover, it's even got an old English moniker hferblte, seeing you asked. Or a squirrel we've got loads of them. We're good on vermin. Or a pigeon? What could be more British?In fact, we could get away from animals all together in our quest to find something truly representative of modern Britain. What about an athlete holding her head in her hands? A footballer pimping his Bentley? A boarded-up shop? Road works? Rioters? Or a nice red circle with writing inside saying, "Due to a passenger incident there will be no more trains this century".There's still time. Together, if we are strong of mind and supple of imagination, we can do justice to Britain and the 2012 Olympics.Olympic Games 2012British identity and societyLondonSimon © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions More Feeds

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