Vanity Fair on the Olympic Circus

Michael Joseph Gross details the blatant and obsequious bribery, corruption, and profligacy requisite to hosting the Olympics.

It is also a tale of how fiction will never beat reality. This is from an actual conversation with the mayor of London, Boris Johnson:

Even the 2012 cartoon mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville, have the notion of surveillance built into their design. Wenlock and Mandeville are two slightly different-shaped silver blobs, meant to be drops of steel taken “from the last huge girder of the Olympic Stadium.” Each of their faces is taken up entirely by a single eye, which is meant to be a camera lens. The packaging for the plush-toy versions of both figures explains, “My single eye is like a camera letting me record everything I see.” (locog has also licensed toy versions of London bobbies and Buckingham Palace guards with camera lenses for faces.) Is the idea of giving children a surveillance toy, I asked Johnson, just a little creepy?

“Are you referring to Mandeville and Wenlock?” the mayor replied. “The thing that children up and down the country, indeed across the planet, are crying out to their parents to buy them for Christmas? Are you referring to our national icons as creepy? I think that’s—they will be, if they are not already, as cherished and as sought-after as—uh … Schtroumpfs. Or Smurfs. They are the Schtroumpfs du jour. They will be infinitely collectible. What to you is a creepy, monocular, Cyclopean android-type thing is to many children a lovable, hilarious, uh, individual—that will comfort them at night.”


“And watch them,” I said.


“And watch them,” he answered. “And look after them.”

Cui bono? The IOC.