Why do mascots exist? I can think of 3 reasons:
To represent a team or organization. Mascots are often used to represent sports teams, schools, and other organizations. They serve as a visual symbol of the team or organization, and can help to create a sense of unity and identity among members and fans.
To entertain and engage audiences. Mascots are often used to add excitement and energy to events. They may perform stunts or dance routines, or interact with fans in a fun and playful way. This can help to create a more enjoyable experience for attendees and help to build loyalty to the team or organization.
To promote and market a team or organization. Mascots are often used as part of marketing and promotional campaigns for teams and organizations. They may appear in commercials, on merchandise, or at public events to help promote the team or organization and increase awareness of it. This can help to generate revenue for the team or organization and support its operations.
Since the barrier has been lowered to access large-market attention— it would appear we have defaulted to idealogical mascotism.
- Our very presence represents a specific idea or a group
- We perform to the audiences of those ideas and groups
- With the expectation that outsiders will eventually convert
Just because you're not a mascot for a cause, a belief system or an in-crowd doesn't mean you don't believe in those things. Most people agree with the tenets of woke ideology: accept human beings despite their race, gender or sexual orientation and treat everyone with dignity and respect. That makes perfect sense. The issue lies with the mascots because they're the ones whose sole mission is to have you agree with not only what they're saying but how they're saying it.
That's why woke art is hard to stomach. A bunch of mascots in a board room got together and said "this is how we're going to get our message out" and then contradict their own message with the transparent signalling. It's the difference between a product like Get Out that used the horror/thriller genre to express black fear in America and Disney's Strange World which was so one dimensional that every character could have been a coffee bean and the movie would have the same emotional payoff.
It's also why woke companies are hard to work for. The mascots are running the board rooms. They're on the event committees and setting training standards. The focus often being more about the signalling and less about real connection.
Now let's step back because not everything comes down to woke and not-woke. That's just an easy mainstream divide that helps media companies make money. Take it to my favourite world: The World of Standup Comedy.
Stay in the game long enough and you're going to develop skills, ideas, opinions and perspectives. When you start believing your information is the source of truth because it's based on your lived experience — you fall into the purist trap and become a mascot for standup comedy "in its purist form". That's not necessarily a bad thing. Standup in its purist form is incredible to watch and one of the most elevated art forms in the world. But that definition changes with culture. Now that we have the ability to ship content quicker, material is becoming less precious. Does that mean the standup is less pure or does that mean standup is adopting to culture? Maybe there never was no "pure" to begin with. Just a thing many different artists have tried to tap into and figure out over the years.
The same thing happens with a contrarian view set as well. Just because I'm not a mascot for standup in its purist form doesn't mean I'm not a mascot for standup. In fact, I absolutely pride myself on being a mascot for standup comedy in its loosest form because my evangelical mission is to encourage more people to participate in standup as both performers and audience. This is guided by my core beliefs that standup comedy is a learning environment we're not utilizing properly and the bridge towards teaching and developing empathetic understanding on a societal level.
So I'm not outright vilifying mascots but I am encouraging us to be considerate about Who and What we represent. The key skills to develop here would be reading and writing to enhance our ability to think about and communicate our own ideas.
There's still one question we need to answer. Why do we want to be mascots in the first place? It's most likely because we want to engage in a community of belonging and feel accepted. It's a universal desire considering how our tribal nature is unavoidable to our species. Since this desire is so intensely ingrained into our very being — it's our most exploitable weakness.
Which leaves us with the problem of rejected mascots.
People who wanted to contribute, who wanted to help the cause, who wanted to bring the ideas to life, who wanted to help people for good reasons but are left rejected by those same ideas, causes and groups that they were fighting for. We've seen it time and time again. Communities turning their backs on their own because they veered away from the group-think. It's maybe one of the most tragic realities of the human condition. That we turn our back on our own and leave them to wilt.
Is the answer to demolish these communities? Probably not. The answer, to me at this time, would be to equip these communities with the tools, knowledge and resources to pivot when the actions of the group start contradicting the intention of the mission. To educate individuals on how to self-manage and communicate effectively. To raise children in a variety of learning systems that embrace the complexity of individuality instead of trying to stifle it. The problems we face today have been snowballing for generations so our solutions should also be generational snowballs that, with speed and growth, create the biggest possible impact.