Critics see much to dislike in Chinese-made Phryges – Copyright AFP/Archive Aleksey Filippov
The choice by the organizers of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games of an adorable red Phrygian cap as the Games’ mascot is proving a harder sell than expected, after critics slammed on the fact that most will be manufactured in China, and others couldn’t help but see a symbol of female sexuality.
Unveiled on Monday, the plump red triangles called Phryges are meant to evoke the French Revolution, when anti-monarchists wore the cap seen today on Marianne’s Liberty, Equality and Fraternity icon on almost every public building.
“The Phrygian cap is a symbol of freedom,” Tony Estanguet, champion canoeist and president of the Paris 2024 organizing committee, told reporters.
But despite two French toymakers winning the contract, the Paris Olympics committee said only eight percent of the mascots would be made in France, with materials produced in China, with the rest outsourced to China. .
The Ethic business association denounced “an insult to all French companies” and said there is still time to produce the millions of toys at home.
“I would love to and we are working so that France can have the raw materials and textile factories to make two million dolls in a few months, but the fact is that today we cannot,” government spokesman Olivier Veran said in a statement. . Thursday.
“It is a structural problem due to the fact that for years France has lost its factories,” he told France 2 television.
Climate activists also contrasted the pollution that will be generated by shipping the toys to France with the government’s promise to crack down on global warming.
France’s environmental transition minister Christophe Bechu called the decision to outsource “a problem.”
“I would like to believe that we still have a few months before the Games start to rectify this,” he told France Info radio on Tuesday.
“We are not going to find ourselves, at a time when we say we need local distribution networks and reindustrialization, producing pets on the other side of the world, especially when we are advocating the fight against global warming,” he said.
The organizers of the Paris Games defended that the mascots are almost all made in China, “like the vast majority of toys sold in France.”
– ‘All the best’ –
But officials have yet to publicly comment on another controversy: the widespread mockery on social media that red triangles appear to look more like a clitoris.
“A symbol of the capital that is both revolutionary and feminist,” the left-leaning daily Liberation said in an editorial on Thursday.
“From a political point of view, it’s not bad for Paris to distance itself from the eternally phallic Eiffel Tower,” he joked.
The mascot was designed by a team led by Joachim Roncin, who created the stark “I Am Charlie” logo that gained global notoriety following the January 2015 jihadist massacre at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in Paris.
“If people see a clitoris and know how to recognize a clitoris, good for them,” Roncin told the Brut video site in an interview posted Wednesday.
“In a logo, everyone is going to see what they want to see: if people see a clitoris, better.”
Others on social media noted that the mascot bore a striking resemblance to the giant inflatable clitoris installed by feminist activists in front of the Eiffel Tower to mark International Women’s Day in March 2021.
If nothing else, the mascot is being hailed in some quarters as an opportunity to bring awareness of the female anatomy into the mainstream.
“The Phryges could only propagate a very rough image that people have of the clitoris. So maybe we can ask science teachers to redesign the mascots,” Francoise Cahen, a highly followed high school teacher in a Paris suburb, posted on Twitter.