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London 2012 mascots - an update

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Roger Mosey | 15:42 UK time, Thursday, 20 May 2010

When I started this blog getting on for a year ago I thought it wouldn't get really busy in terms of visits to the page and comments until we got close to 2012. I obviously didn't factor in mascots and their launch live on the BBC yesterday. So many thanks to everyone who's taken part in the discussions, and I thought it might be best to post a quick update here to avoid it being buried in the deluge.

Obvious statement of fact: views are polarised. Somebody emailed me direct to say that the number of comments reflects unhappiness with the mascots, and I don't think that necessarily follows. So, a bit pretentiously I admit, I emailed him back to say it might reflect Oscar Wilde: "the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."

He promptly replied:

"Wilde also said 'I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.' He wouldn't have been satisfied with Mandeville and Wenlock."

mascot_afp595.jpgLondon 2012 mascots Wenlock and Mandeville

So for people like him, and for the other critics, I asked our colleagues over at LOCOG for a response to the people who haven't warmed to the mascots, and they say:

"Over time, as the story of Wenlock and Mandeville develops and people have the chance to personalise and play with them, we are confident that they will become popular faces of our Games and, most importantly, encourage young people the world over to choose Olympic and Paralympic sports."

And I think there are interesting points there. First, young people seem to have different views to older people about the mascots - as many of you have said and as you can see in some of the responses over on CBBC. Second, this is a long game - and, as the organisers were saying at the launch last night, the overall success of London 2012 will be judged when the Games are over and not now.

The other thing that struck me about reading your comments is that there are different levels of seriousness of reaction. To some people, they're just mascots and a bit of fun.

To others, they represent something deeper about national identity and the way the United Kingdom is representing itself to the world - and there's no real way of reconciling that.

My own view is that humour is one of the things that distinguishes Britain as a nation, which is why I enjoyed the humorous points some people made - and broadcast items like Steve Smith's witty film on Newsnight.

But there's no doubt that Olympic mascots are a global phenomenon, and it's been fascinating looking at the world reaction too - with a particularly tart response from Canada, still smarting from British criticism of Vancouver. You can read some of the comments, in addition to the people on this blog who've declared themselves as Canadians here, here and here.

Clearly now, the debate about Wenlock and Mandeville will continue as they set out on their journey from Bolton to London. It's also apparent from the stir already that the London Olympics will be the most-discussed event on the planet - a phenomenon of the digital age we live in with all the opportunities to comment, discuss and interact.

It's a privilege for us at the BBC to host much of that debate, and we're looking forward to plenty more vigorous exchanges between now and the closing ceremony in 2012.

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