Monday, 24 September 2018

The NHL's Grittiest Mascot

Mascots are a curious case of branding. On the one hand, they can endear a fanbase to your team by appealing as a cartoon-like character for the younger fans to enjoy while older fans laugh at the pranks and goofiness the mascot performs. On the other hand, mascots that come across as aggressive and intimidating can actually alienate parts of one's fanbase. It's a fine line that teams need to walk, but it's always a good idea to err on the side of cartoon-like just to be safe. Unless, of course, you're the Philadelphia Flyers who went cartoon-like, but instead ended up with something based in nightmares.

We've all heard the stories of Philly fans booing Santa Claus, throwing batteries at players, and even cheering injured opposition players, but rarely do you see a team actually try to scare their own fans straight. Gritty, the Flyers' new mascot, might actually keep things sane inside Wells Fargo Center by haunting the dreams of Flyers fans long after they've left the arena.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the mascot known as Gritty.
I don't know what Gritty is supposed to be, but those eyes are not what you expect from a cartoon-like creature aimed to appeal to children. I get that there's some craziness that the Flyers may want to highlight within Gritty's personality, but to make him look insane is probably not the greatest way to endear your team representative to the fans.

In cartoon form, as seen to the right, the animated version of Gritty actually looks fun. Yes, he's big and goofy, but he looks like he'd be a fun competitor on the ice while still embracing that sense of fierce competition in that drawing. The smile combined with the focused eyes actually work well because the eyebrows give you the facial expression needed to understand Gritty's emotional state. There are no eyebrows on the plush-and-hairy costume of Gritty, so it makes his face come off as this catatonic, goofy grin with these wild googly eyes that is normally stereotyped by serial killers and psychopaths. In otehr words? Not good, Flyers. Not good at all. The real-life Gritty needs a makeover something quick to either develop eyebrows or to fix those insane googly eyes. Yeesh!

The second thing that really bothered me about Gritty was his biographical write-up on his introduction page. The first paragraph reads,
His father was a "bully," so naturally he has some of those tendencies - talented but feisty, a fierce competitor, known for his agility given his size. He's loyal but mischievous; the ultimate Flyers fan who loves the orange and black, but is unwelcoming to anyone who opposes his team. Legend has it he earned the name "Gritty" for possessing an attitude so similar to the team he follows.
Did the Philadelphia Flyers just condone child abuse and bullying in one paragraph?!? Look, I'm all for the Flyers' tough background back in the 1970s regarding bullying, but there aren't many kids today who are very aware of the Broad Street Bullies. The Flyers legitimately are trying to play off their history in rather toxic way with this, and it's not a good look for the organization, especially considering this:
Let's be very clear here for a moment: a father bullying a child is a form of child abuse. While the Flyers may not have meant for their description to be read this way, it CAN be read this way since Gritty's father was a bully. Bullying anyone, as we expand the horizon, is also wrong and shouldn't be condoned. This is not something we should be celebrating. Bullying is not acceptable in any form, and the Flyers shouldn't be incorporating it into their mascot's backstory. Bullying in any form simply cannot be accepted or tolerated, so having Gritty have some of those tendencies should have raised multiple red flags for copy editors.

That aside, Gritty will take some getting used to when it comes to seeing him as the cartoon-like dace for the Philadelphia Flyers. The jury on social media general finds him to be creepy, but time will tell if he becomes beloved or never loved. Your thoughts on Gritty? Put them in the comments below!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

No comments: