Game On

Nothing describes the Chinese transition into capitalism quite as well as the Beijing Olympic mascots. Five little critters swarm all over the Beijing merchandise, in a move that guarantees a Pokémon style supermarket sweep for any parents at the games. Oh yes, you’ll have to catch ’em all, and since there are five of them, that’s five times the foreign currency for Beijing. Behind the scenes, the multiple mascots might have been intended to prevent any single Chinese region from speaking for the whole. You can’t have just a panda, as that only means Sichuan to the Chinese. Can’t have just a swallow, as that’s the symbolic bird of the Beijing region. A fish is too Shanghainese. What about a big red personification of the Olympic flame? What about a politically-sensitive Tibetan antelope? What about all of the above, darting across the merchandise like a squad of colour-coded Power Rangers.
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