'Pedobear' an Olympic mascot?
Internet meme mistakenly appears in Polish newspaper
By QMI Agency
'Pedobear' appears in an image next to the official mascots Quatchi, Mukmuk, and Sumi in the Polish newspaper Gazeta Olsztynska.
A popular Internet character dubbed "Pedobear" has found its way alongside 2010 Winter Olympic mascots in Google Images searches and in a Polish newspaper.
Pedobear, a cartoon bear used to mock pedophiles on the Internet, appears in an image next to the official mascots Quatchi, Mukmuk, and Sumi in the Polish newspaper Gazeta Olsztynska.
The paper mistakenly identifies Pedobear as one of the mascots.
The Spanish website, DeportesSpain.com, also briefly identified the bear as an official mascot, though the image has since been removed.
Avrobode, a Dutch television directory, placed the joke image in their print edition.
Pedobear also shows up five pages into a Google Image search for "2010 Winter Olympic mascots." When the Gazeta Olsztynska went to print, it was on page one.
Vancouver-based artist Michael Barrick created the image four months ago by photoshopping Pedobear into a fan drawing of the actual mascots. He called it "a visual critique" of the mascots' artistic style.
"My initial reaction to seeing the mascots was, essentially: 'How embarrassing. We have mascots that look like Pedobear,'" Barrick told QMI.
A number of blogs and forums have criticized the mascots for their resemblance to the Internet meme.
"The irony is that I was basically pointing out how easy a mistake like this would be. Sometimes when you're right, you're right," wrote Barrick on his own blog.
Barrick is critical of the 2010 Winter games, which he blames for provincial arts funding cuts and mounting Vancouver debt.
Pedobear, based on a Japanese character called Safety Bear, was popularized by the Web forum 4Chan.
Because 4Chan is anonymous, people are not hesitant to post whatever they want -- including pornographic images, some of which appear to be of underage persons.
To quash this behaviour, 4Chan members started posting pictures of Pedobear.
The website Urlesque.com describes Pedobear as "shorthand for saying, 'You're being creepy about a kid.'" "If anyone on 4chan posts a picture of a questionably young looking girl in a sexy pose, someone will inevitably reply with a pic of Pedobear. Many times, Pedobear is added to a picture to point out real-world sexualization of presexual kids, but it's alternately shown as an acknowledgment of being inappropriately attracted to a child," reads the post.
Barrick told QMI he's very amused at how prominent his creation has become so close to the start of the Games.
"And it seems a lot of other people are, too. I've had a lot of positive feedback."