Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Follow-up to the horrific London 2012 logo...

In conversation with my brother last night, he mentioned this little character: a Tibetan antelope that serves as one of China's 5 mascots for the Beijing 2008 Olympics. And it might help explain the terrible London 2012 logo that I blogged about only a couple days ago.

The criticism that this critter has earned might explain why London decided to go with something abstract and ahistorical. The problem, of course, is that China conquered Tibet about 50 years ago and their relationship remains tenuous, with the Central Tibetan Administration (the traditional leadership in exile) residing in India and the Tibetan province holding a semi-autonomous status that many Tibetan critics claim is a meaningless title. In short, then, China seems to be (mis)representing Tibet as a full and equal member of the country, as the cute mascot totally glosses over a violent and repressive history. (And, indeed, distracts from the question of whether Tibetans are Chinese at all.)

So yes, this is the kind of thing that I'm guessing London hopes to avoid. But someone should tell them that one can invoke their history without doing so in an incredibly problematic way. But I'm tempted to still suggest that the dialogue that China's Beijing mascots open (unintentionally, of course) is preferable to the erasure and/or denial of history that London's logo gestures toward.

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