If we can learn anything from the London 2012 Olympic mascots unveiled this week, it's that there's no point in anyone anywhere having a meeting about anything again. Obviously a meeting was held about whether those mascots were a good idea, and someone said, "Sure." So, medium discredited.
Now, it's difficult to say whether that person said, "Sure, go with one-eyed creatures that resemble surveillance cameras, because surveillance cameras say 'London 2012' to me," out of genuine love for these mascots, or whether he stood in that meeting and said, "Our research indicates that these mascots are the perfect way to monetize tiny children's nostalgia for the early 1990s."
Sometimes it's impossible to tell where bloodless cynicism ends and flat-out bad taste begins. I'm not always sure which side I want to come down on.
To be fair to the British, nothing of value has ever come out of an 18-month design process involving 40 focus groups. That's what we're told produced these mascots, although a drunken one-night stand between a Teletubby and a Dalek seems like an equally plausible explanation.
And I don't know how reliable to consider the opinions that were gathered, many allegedly from children. I do recall that a 2007 Unicef study concluded that, of the 21 nations examined, Dutch children were the happiest and British children the unhappiest. I like to think that British children have extracted some sort of focus-group revenge.
Never? Not one of them? Or did they all agree to keep quiet until the mascots had been unveiled and the video of them frolicking with children had been released?
Did none of the adults at the meetings mention it? Or did someone on London's Olympic Committee think instead, "Oh dear, what if it's just me? I don't want to be the only one to bring it up if the answer's going to be 'No, not in the least, Sandra. What are you thinking?' Surely it's better to attempt to market 70 million pounds worth of stuffed penises to children than to risk such embarrassment."
Possibly the mascots were selected because they're neither male nor female, British nor foreign - no one is left out. Behold the One-Eyed Compromise Monster - the Olympics can't just be for the binocular any more.
Or perhaps there's some aim here that hasn't been explained yet, some meaning to this one-eyed thing, other than it being a very common sexual reference in Britain. Maybe there's some link to ancient Greece that's no less contrived then any of the other links to ancient Greece forged by Olympic organizers. Another layer will be added to that interminable ceremony: After the Games, when the flame has been extinguished, Odysseus will emerge and stab the mascot in the eye with a big piece of wood.
Let's consider those names - Wenlock and Mandeville? Didn't they both die in the 14th century, in the first bubonic plague? What's wrong with Chaucer and Coverdale? Milton and Spenser? Cholera and Doomsday? Oh, just any olde English name that goes back centuries before the two Dalektubbies.
If the Vancouver Olympics hadn't been called "the worst Olympics ever" by the British press, I might've overlooked these two one-eyed … ummm … creatures. But instead I'm watching them frolicking and attempting to take their place alongside Waldi, the beloved dachshund from the 1972 Munich games, and Misha, the bear from the 1980 Moscow Olympics, who might both be feeling a little bit uncomfortable with that arrangement. And I'm thinking they make our luge course look like a win.