Mascots are the cuddly, cool, cartoonish sidekicks that lend a friendly face to big corporations. And while we're used to seeing them on cereal boxes or in computer documents or looking vaguely racist during football games, plenty other of organizations also employ mascots to help make their brand more soft and approachable. That doesn't mean everyone should have a cute magic friend, though. Because while some organizations have tried to distract people with weird mascots, there aren't enough Tony the Tigers in the world that can make people forget all the shady shit they get up to. For example ...
There isn't a problem in Japan that the country won't try to solve by putting a cute cartoon figure in front of it. Currently, over a thousand government-sponsored mascots roam the Japanese countryside like tiny, cheerful kaiju. They champion administrative issues from childcare to local tax collectors, but if you think that's a bit strange, you have yet to meet Katakkuri-chan, a cuddly mascot for the decidedly un-cuddly correctional institute.
Asahikawa Prison introduced the world to Katakkuri-chan in 2013, Katakkuri-chan both as a boy and a girl, with the gal sporting a violet dress and green sash resembling the lovely flower they're named after while the guy is dressed like a prison warden to represent the crushing regime they're trying to put a happy face on.
And these flowery buddies have quite the task ahead of them. Asahikawa Prison has repeatedly been compared to a Soviet gulag. This is a place where one prisoner was once kept in solitary confinement for 24 hours a day for 13 years for making "antiestablishment remarks." This guy was alone for so long that his lawyers actually thought he was losing the ability to speak. But just trying staying mad at this little fella/gal.
"Awwww okay, you can lock me up."
Katakkuri-chan also appears on a line of coasters and bookmarks, which the inmates themselves have to make. He/she now also greets new prisoners as they're brought, which must be about as comforting as being punched in the balls by a Teletubby.
We talked recently about the dire situation going on in The Philippines where President Rodrigo Duterte has declared open season on drug dealers, drug users, drug enablers and anyone who has seen the first five minutes of Blow. Police (and regular citizens) gun down people suspected of being involved in the country's massive drug trade and, as of September, over 2,400 people are dead as a result of this drug war-- that's a goddamn genocide. But what of the children? They also need to be warned that drugs are bad for you (because the police will gun you down on the street if you touch them). But how do you make a genocidal macho autocrat who calls other world leaders "son of a bitch" and UN experts "stupid" kid-friendly? Well, why don't you ask President Rodrigo's puppet surrogate?
Defiling the ghost of Jim Henson, the President has put together a puppet show about himself and the chief of police battling drug dealers, then toured it around for schoolchildren.
via Global News
"Extra recess for whoever can spell 'Justifiable Homicide'."
Human history has seen a lot of fucked up abuses of power, but at least up until this point no bloody regime has ever had the bright idea of turning their executions into a Saturday morning breakfast cartoon (with an upcoming comic book to boot). But the real mascot of the regime is none other than a full body costumed mascot resembling police chief Ronald "Rock" dela Rosa, who will rhythmically gyrate away any human rights concerns you might have.
One of his key campaign promises was that Duterte had promised never to become an "American puppet," so it must be nice for the many Filipinos who voted for him that he is, indeed, keeping his puppet making locally sourced.
Public defecation is a huge problem in India, with around 70% of Indian households not having access to toilets, so naturally a lot of people are forced to in gutters, bushes, and even railway tracks, leading to rampant disease and incidents of sexual assault. So when UNICEF decided it needed someone with the right amount of gravitas and wisdom to educate the people on this serious, often fatal issue, they of course turned to Mr. Poo.
"Time to hit the fan!"
If his name and appearance didn't tip you off, Mr. Poo is a walking piece of shit, part of a campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of public defecation.
In UNICEF's first official "poo song," Mr. Poo stars of the techno music video "Take Your Poo to the Loo," written by the composer of Life of Pi in what can at best be described as a lateral career move. The music video portrays the annoyance of living with an entire caste of poo people sunbathing in the parks, swimming in the rivers and generally fouling up the place. If there was ever a survival horror game for Nintendo Wii about anthropomorphic feces, it would probably look something like this:
Though we're not sure it was the best idea to turn Mr. Poo into a generally jovial fellow who just loves to dance.
At the very least, Mr. Poo is body positive.
For that small percentage of people without indoor plumbing who also for some reason don't have access to viral YouTube videos, lucky passersby even got the chance to meet Mr. Poo. If you ever felt bad for whoever plays Goofy at Disneyland, imagine the indignity some poor schmuck had to endure while standing in the sun wearing the cartoon shit-man costume for eight hours straight.
His resume lists the costume as "magma snowman."
Though he does seem to be having the desired effect.
"Run! Run away, and never return!"
CrossFit involves weight lifting, rowing, running, gymnastics, and generally molding your body into Zangief from Street Fighter II-levels of veiny muscliness. But CrossFit has been a focus of controversy. When asked about the medical risks of the intense training regimen, its founder responded: "It can kill you, I've always been completely honest about that." One of the ways it can kill you is rhabdomyolysis, a condition where the muscle cells break down which can lead to kidney failure. So how do CrossFitters address this potentially lethal side effect? With not one, but two creepy mascots.
Pictured: How people's brains feel listening to people talk about CrossFit.
Meet Uncle Rhabdo a haggard cartoon clown hooked up to a dialysis machine, shitting out his internal organs. But he's looking swole as fuck, right bro? For some CrossFitters, being compared to a Juggalo with internal organ failure didn't exactly send the healthy message they were hoping to receive. For them, the community deployed a second, more family-friendly mascot which embodies another part of extreme fitness, working out 'til they puke their guts out. Kids, say hello to Pukie the Clown.
Pukie, say goodbye to your lunch.
According to one trainer, some of her pupils "wear [throwing up] as a badge of pride," showing that they've pushed their bodies to the limit. Some gyms even have cut-outs of Pukie holding actual buckets for people to vomit in-- which, come to think of it, may be a good habit for all clowns to get into.
Banksy's lesser known "Juggalo phase".
And he's even made some live appearances, to the enjoyment of CrossFit members, but not the other gym members, who probably don't want to work out next to some guy looking like Ronald McDonald going through a midlife crisis.
The sad part is, we could totally see "Ronald's Midlife Crisis" be a McDonald's ad campaign.
The tobacco industry has had its fair share of mascots, from Joe Camel to the Marlboro Man to every character on Mad Men. So naturally the anti-smoking movement felt the need to also enlist a team of colorful characters to convince people to not slowly kill themselves. Unfortunately, what these mascots wind up doing is reinforcing the stereotype that smokers are just so much cooler.
GMA News Online
"You know what else is cool. Your corpse. From smoking."
Unlike the genius ideas of a camel with sunglasses and a badass, albeit likely cancer-ridden, cowboy, the mascots on the anti-smoking side leave a little to be desired. Take the Philippines' anti-smoking mascot Yosi Kadiri, which answers the question "What if the Pillsbury Doughboy tried meth?" Yosi Kadiri (which is Tagalog for "nasty cigarette") was introduced in 1992 as the country's first attempt to stub out smoking. The campaign was actually quite successful -- though we're not so sure how much that's due to its British ghost mascot and his parties with Xenomorphs.
But the real victims of the anti-smoking campaigns are the poor saps who have to dress up like the enemy and suffer the consequences. Like in this Spanish campaign featuring a mascot coming up to the really nasty part of a torture porn scene.
Cesar Rangel/AFP/Getty Images
Wow, the new Alien prequel looks awful.
Meanwhile, in the USA, a local anti-tobacco vigilante turned himself into the "Dude Cigarette," who traveled around in a tinted van rapping about the dangers of smoking -- and accidentally about the dangers of listening to strange men with tinted vans. His message got slightly muddled after he was arrested and convicted of bigamy. This pretty much killed his career as rapping anti-tobacco mascot, though if there's anyone more aware of the dangers of a post-sex cigarette -- it's the guy who's puffing twice as many of them.
Laura J. Garnder/News & Daily Advance
This guy was somehow able to convince multiple women to have sex with him. Willingly.
Trains, that thing on rails you can feel coming from twenty miles away, still manage to kill enough people on a yearly basis in the U.S. that train safety is a thing people need to be made aware of. One rail company even created a mascot to help promote train safety-- so what did they come up with? A doe-eyed steam train? A happy conductor? No, they went with this fucking guy:
That's not a mascot for teaching kids train safety as much as the spokesman for improving the intellectual aptitude of the common testicle.
Yeah, that's Brainy, the mascot for train safety designed by the Norfolk Southern railroad company -- the premier choo choo providers of the South. His motto is "train your brain," which might explain why he looks about as clever and confident as someone unable to solve his nine-year-old's homework. Brainy's part of a cross-state, almost decade-long awareness campaign in which the company has been leafleting and putting giant billboards all across America with the intent to "grab drivers' attention" and remind them to be careful crossing a train line -- because a bunch of flashing lights, bumpy rails and a massive locomotive hurtling towards them can sometimes be a tad subtle.
So if Norfolk Southern already has billboards and tons of safety messages, what does Brainy, who looks like he's been kicked in parts he shouldn't have, do? Well, he appears at fairs and conventions to ... remind people to look at the billboards. But at least Brainy, when he's not hitchhiking back from Burning Man, also teaching important lessons-- like how it's cool to walk backwards towards railroad tracks just as long as you're moonwalking.
Gun control is a much-contested issue in the U.S., what with some people acting like scaredy cats every time someone walks into their Starbucks with a harmless assault rifle. But the National Rifle Organization has identified why some people are so afraid of guns: they aren't introduced to them fast enough. That's why the organization has a long history of finding ways to get kids interested in guns from as early an age as possible. Hey, if it's good enough for African warlords, it's good enough for the NRA.
"Kids, why read books when you can handle weapons!?" is a message all parents would agree with.
Sure, having kids learn gun safety from the NRA is a little like asking Walter White to be a career counselor, but that didn't stop the organization from created their own cartoon mascot to help children swallow their bias: Eddie Eagle. Eddie is the NRA's personal "Eagle Eye" club leader, a job that mostly entitles hiding on rooftops and staring at kids while they play hide and seek -- in case they stumble on the many loaded guns littered around the U.S. of A. When they eventually find one, Eddie swoops down and offers kids helpful advice, preferably with dope rhymes like "stop, don't touch! Leave the area and tell an adult!"
"Don't pull the trigger until you are bigger. Word from your bird."
And just to show kids how cool Eddie is, here he is talking to his good friend 90210 star Jason Priestley, who considers this badly drawn bird his personal friend and -- according to his contractual obligation -- a "hero."
"Yes, Eddie. Without the 2nd Amendment, we aren't America."
Here's the thing, though: Eddie is the worst. For starters, his lessons didn't actually work on kids. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, "existing programs are insufficient for teaching gun-safety skills to children" as when they tested a bunch of Eagle Eye schooled kids, none of them knew what to do when around a firearm. It's almost like the solution to protect kids from guns is to not leave guns lying around, a responsibility that should rest squarely on adults, not on schoolchildren and a smarmy cartoon bird. All Eddie seems to achieve with his awareness is to normalize the idea of being around firearms from a young age. A study by the Violence Policy Center called him "Joe Camel with feathers" and concluded that the NRA's "hoped-for result is new customers".
Hell, even the woman who designed the Eddie the Eagle program recently said that if she'd known how the program was going to be used she "wouldn't have anything to do with it." Why? Because the NRA literally props up Eddie the Eagle as an alternative to imposing stricter laws on negligent adults, calling a 2016 bill to make it punishable by law to leave firearms around children "unnecessary" like they've actually started believing their magic superhero bird will come and save the day.
But creating dangerously inappropriate cartoons themselves wasn't enough for the NRA. Tired of the weak spined Grimm Brothers leftist propaganda, the NRA also published a series of revisionist fairy tales. Guess what, kids, if Hansel and Gretel had been packing heat, they could have painted the witch's gingerbread walls strawberry red with her brains. The same goes for Little Red Riding Hood, who makes great use of the "stand your ground" rule to take on that shifty, vaguely ethnic looking Wolf.
The only thing that stops a bad wolf is a good grandma with a gun.
With clearly so many children's authors working for the NRA, we're starting to wonder if Bambi wasn't originally a super happy story until they rewrote it for political purposes. We're just kidding. If the NRA had made Bambi, he would've been wearing gang colors and the entire forest would've been massacred by one hunter and his truck-mounted machine gun.
Think Nana and Pop-Pop's loving 60-year monogamous relationship is quaint and old-fashioned? First off, sorry for that disturbing image, but we've got some news for you: the monogamous sexual relationship is actually brand new relative to how long humans have been around. Secondly, it's about to get worse from here: monkey sex. On this month's live podcast, Jack O'Brien and the Cracked staff welcome Dr. Christopher Ryan, podcaster and author of 'Sex at Dawn', onto the show for a lively Valentine's Day discussion about love, sex, why our genitals are where they are, and why we're more like chimps and bonobos than you think. Get your tickets here!
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