Life magazine has a problem with several college basketball mascots (which is news to us, since nobody here at Drive and Dish was aware that Life magazine still existed). Namely, Life thinks the mascots in question are "creepy."
Before Drive and Dish weighs in with our take on Life's list of "creepy" mascots, we offer the following disclaimer: it has long been our official position that the adjective "creepy" is overused and annoying (not to mention nebulous). Make no mistake, calling someone "creepy" is a power play. It's a tactic primarily employed by females who are attempting to shame males into modifying their behavior. And it's effective. The prospect of being called "creepy" is usually enough to prompt guys to jump through hoops in order to prove to their female accusers that they are not, in fact, "creepy." And that's why, in recent years, use of the word "creepy" has all but become the de facto means by which girls assert their power over guys.
Worse yet, when used as a "shaming word," it has no objective meaning. "Creepy" is a subjective term which can be utilized to describe almost anything its user wishes:
"OMG!!! That guy is totally looking at me! He's totally checking me out! OMG! That guy is sooo creepy!!!"
"OMG!!! I'm a hot girl, and I'm interested in that cute guy, but he totally doesn't notice me. WTF!?! What's wrong with him!?! He's must be gay. Or maybe he's a little wussy boy who's intimidated by me and doesn't have the balls to approach me. He's like, sooo creepy!!!"
"OMG!!! That guy's such a dirtbag! He's like, a total player! He doesn't care about any girls. He's just all about, like, ya know, getting in girls' pants. What a creepy dirtbag!!!"
"OMG!!! That guy is such a total geek! He has, like, NO game at all! I'm sure he never gets any ass. And he probably doesn't even care, cause he probably just goes back to his room and plays World of Warcraft! OMG!! He's such a L-O-S-E-R! He's totally creepy!!!
"OMG!!! That guy held a door open for me. He probably just wants to get in my pants! OMG!! He's sooo creepy!!!"
"OMG!!! That guy didn't hold the door open for me. That's sooo rude. Who the hell does he think he is? He's sooo creepy!!!"
Females accuse males of being "creepy" so often, and for so many disparate reasons, that the word has begun to lose much of its meaning. Insofar as "creepy" means whatever the person using it wants it to mean, it's become the ultimate post-modern adjective. But even with its diluted meaning, "creepy" remains an enormously powerful tool, as it conveys sinister (and often sexually predatory) overtones.
So it's not without at least a bit of trepidation that Drive and Dish entertains the notion of Life Magazine's list of the "creepiest" college mascots. Having said that, several of the mascots strike us as being, indeed, pretty damn creepy. Our thoughts:
1. The Stanford tree is undeniably wacked out. Life Magazine opines that it seems to have been inspired by a bad acid trip. Yours truly isn't exactly a big hallucinogenic drug user, but senior Drive and Dish editors have conferred with lower level Drive and Dish employees who are, in fact, big hallucinogenic drug users, and the consensus among the Drive and Dish acid eaters is that the Stanford tree does, in fact, seem to be inspired by a bad acid trip.
Worse yet, the current incarnation of the Stanford tree bears even less of a resemblance to an actual tree than its previous incarnations. At least the old Stanford tree (circa 1996-98) was actually green -- the new tree looks like it's supposed to depict five unrolled condoms stacked on top of each other, topped off with a Cowichan warrior's headdress.
And the 1980's boat shoes with black socks just add insult to injury.
There's no doubt about it -- anyone (Stanford student, alumni, or otherwise) who's willing to admit to liking the Stanford tree has probably just smoked a few trees.
2. The Oklahoma State Cowboy (known as "Pistol Pete") looks like the Burger King's long lost brother/cousin. Life can't be easy for a rough and tumble Oklahoma cowboy; I wonder if he knows that he's related to royalty. He might want to tell the Burger King to send some $$ his way.
Worse yet, Oklahoma State has no claim on the nickname "Pistol Pete." "Pistol Pete" was the nickname of Pete Maravich, who was one of the greatest and most iconic -- arguably the greatest and the most iconic -- college basketball players of all time. Pete Maravich was a three time NCAA All American who, forty years after his final season as a collegian, remains college basketball's all time leading scorer. In his three collegiate seasons (1968-70), he amassed 3,667 points and averaged an astonishing 44.2 points per game. What's more, Maravich played long before the advent of the three point shot in college basketball. It's been estimated, based on footage of Maravich's old games, that if the three point shot had existed, he would have averaged more than 57 points per game.
More on Pete Maravich here, here and here.
So it's not surprising that a college basketball mascot would use the nickname "Pistol Pete." It is, however, surprising that Oklahoma State's mascot uses the nickname.
The original "Pistol Pete" played at LSU.
3. Louisiana-Lafayette's mascot looks too much like Carrot Top to be taken seriously (well, to the extent that college mascots can be taken seriously).
4. Why does the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi mascot dress in traditional Hawaiian garb?
Corpus Christi, TX, is a coastal town on the Gulf of Mexico. Sure, Corpus Christi has palm trees and an ocean, but other than the fact that both are warm weather locales situated on large bodies of salt water, the Texas Gulf Coast has almost nothing in common with Hawaii.
Growing up, my paternal grandparents lived near the Texas Gulf Coast. I spent countless hours in my grandfather's boat, fishing in the Gulf. I like the Texas Gulf Coast. But let's face it: the Gulf Coast isn't exactly a haven for surfers, and Texas isn't known for hula dancers in grass skirts. Thus, the grass skirt clad, Tiki themed TAMU-Corpus Christi mascot doesn't really make sense.
5. Austin Peay's "Governor" mascot may be "creepy," but the school's student body chant -- "Let's go Peay!" (pronounced "pee") -- stands alone in its genius.
6. The UConn Husky looks like a furry.
(Photo of the Stanford tree: courtesy of Life Magazine).