So why does a school with a French name in either Indiana or Ohio have a team called "The Fighting Irish" and a logo of a bellicose leprechaun. The school was founded by French men. Why isn't the logo of Quasimodo? He's from literature. He certainly had a tenacious spirit. He'd been in the popular culture for a good twenty years before the school was founded.
However, after doing a modicum of research, it's pretty clear that although the Notre Dame mascot is wearing a cute little green outfit, he's not a leprechaun. His official name is Clashmore Mike. Now, if you had asked me earlier today if I found him in the least bit offensive I would've given an unequivocal "no." But that research I did uncovered a hitherto unknown to me historical era when the Irish were being depicted as sub-human:
The other, more overarching trait of the Masshole (particularly of those born there) is that we think we're better than everyone else. I was going to say, "just a little bit better" but then figured I wouldn't downplay it. There are lots of celebrity Massholes! Some good examples: Denis Leary, Bill Burr, Conan O'Brien, Amy Poehler. Everyone in that "Smaht Pahk" Hyundai commercial.
So, as far as the Potato Heads go, sure. Remove the gender signifiers. Just call them Potato Heads or Potato People. Throw all the pieces in one bag and let 'em rip. Maybe Hasbro could do a Ru-Paul's Drag Race tie-in. Let's call it The RuPaul's Drag Race Potato Person. I'd love to see the right's collective head explode over that.
Looking at Mr. Potato head, I can't help but think of Clashmore Mike and Lucky. In his official outfit on the cover of the box, he's wearing green. He has a pipe and a bowler hat. Is he supposed to be Irish? I mean, we really can't escape that association, can we? In fact, when he was first marketed, children needed actual potatoes to play with him (you stuck the spiked pieces into the potato). When he was pitched to toy companies by his inventor, George Lerner, most turned him down because they feared the toy would be controversial and rejected by consumers. Why? Well because The Great Depression and the food rationing of WWII was still fresh in people's minds and the fear was that Mr. P. would be found wasteful.* My problem as a child would've been the idea of playing with a vegetable that leaked juice, grew sprouts and had a reputation for blight. No thanks.
But the real problem I have with the Potato Heads is that disturbing Lay's Potato Chips commercial they did a few years ago. Remember it? It portrayed them as cannibals, guiltily eating the chips made of the flesh of their own people. WTF was that about? I'm still queasy over that one. It's unnerving on so many levels. They should burn the negative.
*Tim Walsh / The Playmakers
Which is exactly what our unnamed cousin would do. It's clear he has a drinking problem. I mean, he brings a six pack with him wherever he goes. He's drinkin' ta get a freakin' buzz on; not because he enjoys savoring the notes of friggin' Ocktobahfest. Do I have a problem with this ad campaign? Yes, I do; although I do find it amusing. I mean, I can deal with the Irish drunk part, ironically. What I don't like is the condescension towards working class people to sell beer to rich people. It's...what is it...? It's disingenuous. The actor who plays our cousin from Boston is named Gregory Hoyt. He grew up in Amesbury, MA (so at least he's a real Masshole). Apparently, Sam Adams decided to double down on this stereotype (and it's a stereotype I know that most Massholes love, I mean, even when we're drunk slackers, we're still better than everyone else) by having a "satirical" Sam Adams commercial embedded into Saturday Night Live: