by Chris Bodenner

A reader gets to the heart of the question:

I'm really enjoying your thread on strange Olympic mascots. I've occasionally been a design consultant to the educational publishing industry and I believe that what the Olympics has experienced is similar to what I've seen there. There's such an obsessive concern with avoiding issues of race, ethnicity, and gender that the fear of creating a character that is in any way identifiable as belonging to a particular group overrides good sense. Which is why you get these amorphous – and unlovable – non-human mascots. One company I worked with created a character for a math program in the form of a friendly robot who'd pop up from one page to another with tips on solving problems. Originally the friendly character's name was "Buzz," but that was killed when it was deemed "too white male." So I'm not surprised that Olympic marketers are driven by these same forces of hyper-sensitive political correctness.