Thursday, August 04, 2011

Yeshiva University unveils (awful) new mascot

The YU Athletic department has unveiled a new mascot. Here's what it looks like (The text is from the YU press release)
The warrior in the logo is a historically accurate depiction of soldiers at that time and how the Maccabean army would most probably have dressed. The warrior intentionally features a spear as opposed to a sword. The spear is symbolic of the lower-grade weaponry the Maccabees used to defeat the better-armed and much larger Syrian Greek army. The defensive posture is indicative of the Jewish fighters’ desire to protect their land and way of life and symbolic of the Jewish people’s feelings toward the purpose of military confrontation.

The shield, the front of which can be seen here, is similar in shape to the Yeshiva University shield and on the shield are a lion from the Coat-of-Arms of Jerusalem and a menorah from the Coat-of-Arms of the State of Israel. Both tie in to the story of the Maccabees. The Jewish revolt against Antiochus liberated Jerusalem which is why Jerusalem’s lion symbol appears. Once the Temple was restored to Jewish control the Maccabees re-instituted the tradition of a constantly-lit menorah, thus that symbol.

My response:

Has YU lost its collective institutional mind? All of this overthinking/meta anlysis of the logo's deep, underlying, symbolic, significance makes good fodder for a press release, but its hooey. People don't care about what a logo represents.  They won't contemplate the figure, as if it was a museum piece, and remark on the crouched defensive pose or the spear vs sword symbolism. They aren't going to participate in seminars about What It Means or What It Says. People are going to reach a snap, impulsive judgement, and that judgement will be made according to a simple set of criteria, criteria that will vary based upon who is doing the judging:

Group: Students and Alumni
Criteria: Does it look cool?
Discussion: I, personally, do not think it looks cool. I think it looks stiff, and boring, almost like a play-action figure. Perhaps you disagree, but to me he does not seem like a living, breathing, creature.  He looks like something that inhabits a 1980s cartoon. I half expect He-Man to appear.
-
Group: YU Bashers, including RW O-Jews who have convinced themselves the school is a hotbed of homosexuality, Zionism, and modernity.
Criteria: Does this logo confirm our pre-existing opinions? / Can we use it to continue bashing YU?
Discussion:This new symbol plays directly into the second group's hands, giving them yet another cudgel with which to beat the school. The figure is wearing a dress (gay) appears at first glance to be Greek (modern, gay) and carries a shield adorned with the symbols of the state of Israel (modern, Zionist.)  If Elya Svei or Aryeh Levin wanted to design a caricature of the school, wouldn't they come up with something that looked like this new logo?

Now, let's be clear: I don't think Y.U is obligated to consider its opponents and their pathologies before choosing a mascot; however, I do think that before selecting an official symbol to represent the school, the person in charge needs to ask himself one simple question, namely: Is this "us"?

If the powers running Y.U imagine that a stiff, boring clayman, that neither wears nor carries any identifiable Jewish marks or apparatus is the right answer to that question, well, that's a serious problem, don't you think?

Additional criticism:
Despite all the side-matter blather about historical accuracy, this atrocity has no beard, and no tzitzis, while the genuine Maccabee slogan - Me Kumocha B'elim = ["Who is like you among the heavenly powers] - and the genuine Maccabee icon - a lion - are absent. Also, would a Macabee have worn top-of-the line Greek style armor? Weren't they poor, ragtag guerrilla fighters?


Gratuitous Nit Pick: The press release says "Once the Temple was restored to Jewish control the Maccabees re-instituted the tradition of a constantly-lit menorah, thus that symbol." Are we in Chelm? The picture on the shield is a menorah that is NOT lit. How do you represent the Chanuka miracle and all it represents, with an UNLIT menorah?

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