Sacre bleu! The Paris 2024 Olympics mascots are here, and yes, they are phryges! How many times will I have to google the correct spelling of “phryges” before the end of this blog post? Thus far: two. “So wait, it’s an animal?” one of my friends texted, to which another replied, “No, it’s, like, more of a ‘Les Mis’ thing.”
C’est vrai: the phryges (pronounced like “freegz”) vary from the Olympic mascot norm of a national animal. These mascots are hats. The phryges are hats. It’s sort of like if the mascot was a baseball hat, but rather a type of hat that isn't popular let alone any use in contemporary society. They’re more like, you know, those red… kind of triangular… French hats… they’re from the past, we don’t see them a lot anymore, but if you saw a person wearing one today, you’d be like, “Yup, that person is definitely French!”
Here they are: the Olympic Phryge (fourth time) and the Paraolympic Phryge. According to the Paris 2024 official account, “They are sporty, love to party... and are so French 🇫🇷.” Further research suggests they have no gender. Très bien!
Forgive me for initially thinking they were curled, disembodied tongues (to celebrate the French kiss) or approximately one-half of a starfish (some kind of fucked up French cuisine? I dunno). It wasn’t until later, once I saw this convenient tweet zooming in on the historical phryge (fifth time) in question, that I started to see the vision coming together for the Paris Olympics.
The joy of the Olympic mascots is that they usually both suck and are great: they are inevitably the results of some hugely expensive and misguided marketing attempt but also undeniably charming by design. Let’s look at some from the semi-recent past.
For instance, there were Olympics this year already. ‘Memba those? No, of course not, but their mascot was a lovable panda named Bing Dwen Dwen.
The Rio Olympics, during which Ryan Lochte got arrested, featured a charming long-limbed cat named Vinicius named for one of Brazil’s most prominent poets.
Though the 2024 Olympic Phryges are certainly a break from the animal norm, who could forget the other break from the animal norm, aka whatever the fuck these were from the 2012 London Olympics?
The “narrative” of Wenlock is that he was made from one of the final drops of steel used to make the Olympic stadium in London. Okay, so, compared to that, I think the French hats are a pretty coherent if not esoteric idea (very French indeed). I look forward to seeing them on TV in 18 months, dancing in costume until they pass out from heatstroke.