Aargh, I can’t unsee it now!

The London Olympics 2012 has a logo. It’s hideous.

I don’t quite understand why a jumble of jagged shapes is supposed to be welcoming, and somehow, this set of shapes is supposed to evoke “2012”. But even worse, I then saw this interpretation and now that’s all I see.

Iran is complaining that all they see is the word Zion. I suggest we tell them about the Simpsons interpretation, and their complaints will immediately evaporate.

Also, the Olympics mascots are one-eyed trouser snakes. It’s the perviest Olympics ever.


  1. says

    There’s nothing to be said about those mascots which hasn’t been said a thousand times already. However, Mandeville and Wenlock? I wouldn’t even pin those on my rats.

  2. belfastian says

    Brilliant.. i saw a good RC Church logo today. tho it is old it seems to be genuine.

  3. chigau (女性) says

    If you haven’t clicked on PZ’s “this interpretation” link,
    DON’T DO IT!!!
    DO NOT!

  4. Beatrice says

    If I bend my head to the right, squint with one eye and hop on my left leg, I can sort of see a 2 above 1 on the left, with a blob in the middle and a big 2 on the right. Maybe

  5. says

    Beatrice, I can see the 2012 easy enough, I saw it right away, but it’s very badly done. It’s a terrible fucking design and thanks to whoever posted that twitter, I’m now seeing the Simpsons Interpretation.

  6. christophburschka says

    Iran is complaining that all they see is the word Zion.

    Israel issued a statement that the image apparently represents Ahmadinejad holding a nuclear bomb, and Texas congressman Gohmert claims to recognize a schoolteacher holding a textbook on evolution.

    Sigmund Freud commented that it was quite obviously a nude photograph of his mother.

  7. pj says

    What can be so awful..?

    *clicks the link*

    *stares, does not see*

    *stares some more, still does not see*

    *stares still mo-*


  8. says

    Now that I’ve looked at the plush Mandevilles and Wenlocks, I realize they remind me of Kosh & Kang. More Simpsons! Must be a conspiracy of some sort. ;D

    Seriously, Kosh & Kang would have been better, they have tentacles.

  9. christophburschka says

    Mind you, any sufficiently stylized text mark reading


    can also be read as


    That’s simply the way the letters and numbers look.

    Is Iran going to blame the decimal system and Arabic numerals for this conspiracy?

  10. stonyground says

    This is all really old news here in the UK. The logo was universally hated as soon as it was announced, and the Simsons interpretation came soon after. Much of the condemnation was due not to the fact that the logo is utter crap, but because it had cost about four hundred grand to get someone to design it. One of the tabloids asked readers to submit designs for free and then did a centrefold spread featuring the twenty or so best ones. Every single one of them was a hundred times better than this one and they cost nothing.

  11. says

    I think it looks like a board game designed by M.C. Escher.
    As for the link in comment #1, I have a rule about clicking on links with “goatse” in the URL. I never, ever click on a link with “goatse” in the URL.

  12. Menyambal --- Sambal's sockpuppet says

    I just now saw the 2012 in it. 2 and 0 over 1 and 2, in case you are still looking. Very, very badly done, I say.

    I’d seen the logo a few years back, as someone pointed out the Simpsons ref, and couldn’t see what else it was supposed to be, and couldn’t imagine them not changing it.

    I guess logo artists (and other artists) are like preachers. They shovel out a pile of stinking offal, and few people have the courage to say, “Harry, it sucks.”

  13. Menyambal --- Sambal's sockpuppet says

    The word “London” isn’t even capitalized.

    That font is almost Comic Sans.

  14. kreativekaos says

    I basically agree,… I guess. (And I agree that the one-eyed trouser snakes are a bit,… well, strange.)

    But then there would be some who might say they wouldn’t see anything but a canvas of drippy paint in a Jackson Pollock, or just a bunch of big blocky primary colors and lines in a Mondrian.
    I guess, no accounting for taste (or artistic expression), as they say.

  15. Beatrice says

    It’s Lisa Simpson’s necklace. Her pearl necklace.

    This just gets worse.


    I’m giggling like a twelve-year-old. (Except that I wouldn’t get what’s funny with this at 12)

  16. kingcanute says

    From the comments on Amazon regarding PC Wenlock: “…with his single weeping eye and shiny helmet…”

  17. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Caine #14:

    I realize they remind me of Kosh & Kang. More Simpsons!

    Kang and Kodos.

    Kosh was a Vorlon ambassador on Babylon 5.

  18. alkaloid says

    There’s nothing to be said about those mascots which hasn’t been said a thousand times already.

    So nobody’s ever pointed out before that this is what happens when you hire cubists to design mascots?

  19. otranreg says

    Not that I give a toss about the Olympic Games anyway, but I think this logo (albeit not perfect) is so, so much better than the usual unimaginative bureaucratic visual crap they show off.

  20. says

    I just had an idea that’s way too late to be implemented.

    The Internet can be really good at sudden mass cultural mobilizatiom. Way back in 2007, when this logo was first unveiled, why didn’t someone host a vote for an “unofficial official” logo? Even the non-democracy of an Internet poll would have been better than the committee process.

    Yes, it wouldn’t actually prevent this monstrosity from donning official Olympic tsochkes everywhere, but as a semi-worldwide shibboleth it would serve as a sort of affirmation of the Olympic spirit, no?

    Oh, and as for “the interpretation”, I’m happy to say I do not see it in the original, without the color overlay. Sorry if that makes anyone jealous.

  21. carlie says

    I see no way that last 2 could be looked at as an N, since it would have to be completely sideways.

  22. ben2012 says

    Heheh, us Brits were horribly aware of the ‘alternate interpretation which one cannot then unsee’ quite soon after the logo’s debut.


  23. Sili (I have no penis and I must jizz) says

    I never realised it was supposed to say “2012” – I thought it was supposed to be a stylistic representation of London.

    The interpretation I saw on Slog years ago was just two guys fucking, but for some reason I can’t make that pop into vision now.

  24. Gregory Greenwood says

    The logo really is an abomination against taste. When I first saw it, I thought it had to be a hoax, because surely no one could think that such a monstrosity could amount to a decent piece of design. I waited for the revelation that it was all a joke – a revelation that never came.

    And then I ran across the oddly phallic mascots, and I came to realise that either someone was deliberately having a little fun at the expense of the Olympics, or the idiots in charge really had managed to employed the world’s most talentless hacks to design the promotional material.

    Fortunately, I have viewed that Olympics as a massive waste of money and general white elephant from the off, and so I view this mess with amusement rather than despair.

  25. 'Tis Himself says

    I rather like the mascots having the Eye of Sauron look.

    But then I want to be Sauron when I grow up.

  26. ebotebo says

    I’m certainly not an art afficianado, but I thought of Picasso moments after I saw the logo at least a year ago. But now I’m not sure, so shall I just say a cubist?

  27. ebotebo says

    Pardon me again! I most certainly agree that Matt Groening may have been the cubist!!!

  28. birgerjohansson says

    The Olympic logo reminds me of the Power Point images in one of Charles Stross´ Laundry novels; tapping into the non-Euclidian space the Old Ones come from, and designed to make the readers go literally insane!
    — — — — — — — —
    The mascots are so like Kang and Kodos I am going to ask my friends in England to buy them for me during the after-olympics sale.

  29. pensnest says

    Not so very long ago I was in the Olympic Merchandising area of a large department store overlooking several of the Olympic sites—surrounded by the hideous and inexplicable one-eyed… *things*. Profoundly unappealing. Indeed, the only object in the entire place that might have tempted me to purchase bore the not the unspeakable Olympic logo but the UK team logo, which was designed by a person with a modicum of ability. And common sense.

    The interpretation to which PZ links is a powerful meme, indeed.

  30. claremilner says

    At least you haven’t had to put up with seeing the logo since what feels like forever. It’s been steadily getting worse. Now it’s on tv, in shop window displays, in newspapers, on the official merchandise, on the products of the major sponsors, on unofficial merchandise, greetings cards, mugs, blah …

    I’m interested in the opening and closing ceremonies and watching a few of the events but feel like I’m suffering Olympic Overload at the moment.

  31. 'Tis Himself says

    I’m interested in the opening and closing ceremonies and watching a few of the events but feel like I’m suffering Olympic Overload at the moment.

    You can watch the last round of the British Open tomorrow.

  32. Matt Penfold says

    I’m interested in the opening and closing ceremonies and watching a few of the events but feel like I’m suffering Olympic Overload at the moment.

    Me too. Every other ad on TV at the moment is about how the advertiser is involved in the London Olympics, and no news broadcast is complete with references to the countdown to the opening ceremony, the torch relay and the almighty cock-up by G4S not actually managing to employ enough security staff. Although given that most of the G4S staff are students who are wanting to earn a few quid (and it will only be a few quid) prior to going to Uni, am I not sure quite how effective they would have been.

  33. Matt Penfold says

    You can watch the last round of the British Open tomorrow.

    And Brits will finish first and second in the Tour de France.

  34. says

    Before I went to the perv links I squinted for awhile. What I saw was two boxers, London vs Olympics.

    I think I’m watching too much UFC and not enough porn.

  35. roland72 says

    I’ve known about the Simpsons Interpretation for a long time and it is impossible to unsee. And that awful logo is ALL OVER London. Ugh, ugh and triple ugh. From the country that has been responsible for some of the best logos and graphic design (British Rail, London Transport etc etc) this is indescribably unforgivably dreadful. Makes me hot under the collar with embarrassment. Bleurgh.

  36. says

    Count me among those who think the mascots aren’t so bad and are even a little cute. “One-eyed aliens”, at least by itself, could be a winning concept.

    Yes, the one on the left should have been modified to look less phallic, but anyone who thinks the one on the right looks phallic, with its jagged head, is perhaps thinking of one of the many non-human penises that bedeck the animal kingdom. Any biologists here care to point the way to such organs? Signed, Not A Perv

  37. Sili (I have no penis and I must jizz) says

    Incidentally, this depiction of Simpsonian incest is more true to the Groening style than most of the stuff I’ve seen in the past.

  38. nohellbelowus says

    Organizers said the idea for the characters came from two drops of molten spooge steel dropped while making the last phallic symbol girder for London’s Olympic Stadium, and the mascots tested well with children.

    Tested well with children” ???

    Catholic priest pedophiles test well with children, too!

  39. Rolan le Gargéac says

    christophburschka @15

    Is Iran going to blame the decimal system and Arabic numerals for this conspiracy?

    They’re not arabic numerals at all, they’re from India.

  40. Rolan le Gargéac says

    alkaloid @31

    So nobody’s ever pointed out before that this is what happens when you hire cubists to design mascots?

    Г □ Г !

  41. says

    About 20 years ago there was a special Pepsi artistic can promotion which was forced to end because some people saw, when one of the styles of can were stacked, what they thought was the word “SEX.”

    Most people save their anger for things that exist only in their own imagination.

  42. Janine: Fucking Dyke Of Rage Mountain says

    Just want to point this out, I am so fucking relieved that Chicago missed out on the “privilege” of hosting the 2016 Olympics. Life would have been a nightmare for years to come.(Or, to be more honest, be more of a nightmare.) The people of London, you have my sympathy. I hope you are able to get out town during the duration of that clusterfuck.

  43. evodevo says

    Aarrghhh! It looks like something I saw while on an acid trip once in the old days ….
    Who pays good money for this kind of graphic dreck? You would think they could find something better than this.

  44. Menyambal --- Sambal's sockpuppet says

    I mentioned the logo to my wife, she looked up the official one and thought it was ugly. I told her to look for Lisa Simpson, and she started laughing and oh-my-god-ing.

  45. vaiyt says

    I liked the mascots… ):

    Bunch of phillistines. I bet all you critics would have picked yet another ra-damned CUDDLY ANIMAL that could have been designed by an average Japanese child.

  46. WhiteHatLurker says

    @Menyambal — Sambal’s sockpuppet

    http://www.london2012.com/ has the logo as only blue and white, so the image above isn’t official, just intended as a visual aid, apparently.

    I see it as a single colour, but either pink or orange, depending on when I load the page. I’m guessing it’s only the outline that is fixed. Perhaps alternative colouring like The Simpsons’ Interpretation is allowed.

    Still, the logo sucks.

    Just the right side. OH, I see what you mean.

  47. says

    Given the history of what has happened with questionable images of cartoon characters in the past, I wonder how long it will be before someone is arrested and charged for possessing an image of the Olympic logo?

  48. gragra, something clever after the comma says

    PZ, you need to read the Amazon reviews of the Wenlock Olympic mascot to restore your faith in humanity.

    earwig, you’re right, those reviews are hilarious. That’s what I love about the British: nobody more wittily takes the piss out of officially contrived crap like they do.

  49. s.k.jinnes says

    Clothing color? Check. Skin tone? Check. Pearl necklace? Check. Pearl necklace? Pending.

  50. graham says

    PZ, do you realise what a risk you are taking by using the word Ol*mp*cs? Bidding for the Ol*mp*cs includes making a promise to change the law so the Ol*mp*c thought police can stamp on any use of the magic word by anyone who is not a sponsor. Our local bus company, for example, has a whole page on how to get to the Ol*mp*cs but only ever refers to it as “The Games” to guard against being sued. There are so many stories floating around that I’m not sure which might be urban myths: That kids won’t be allowed in if they are wearing trainers not made by Adidas, people are banned from taking their own food because McD and CocaCola have monopolies. There have been so many such stories that they’ve had to issue a statement about it: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18942119 More here:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/news/9409447/London-2012-Olympics-Bakers-should-be-allowed-to-display-Olympic-themed-products-says-Hugh-Robertson.html

  51. billhaines says

    It’s like how actual atheists regard belief in deity: once you’ve seen through it there’s no going back.

  52. ibyea says

    Good thing I quickly clicked the go back button before my mind fully absorbed the Simpsons interpretation.

  53. says

    As has been mentioned we in the UK hated it as soon as it was released and the internet was quick enough to adapt it into the form above the committee wouldn’t admit they made a mistake or use one of the free alternatives; I like the first 2012don one.

    But it gets worse. To promote the event they produced an animated version which flashed all the colours around – that went down well with the epileptics.

    Then in order to induce happiness and enthusiasm in London for the event they prevented anyone displaying any form of the Olympic logo or even the word; spent 3 times as much as estimated; under-estimated the security requirements so much as to have to draft in the army; over-estimated the security requirements so much they’ve installed missile batteries on residential apartment buildings; told a bunch of kids who’d been practising their act they won’t be performing as the city can’t get the trains and buses to run for an extra half-hour; commandeered road lanes for VIPs that’ll create even more congestion in the city; and imposed airport style security restrictions on getting in that I’m sure won’t lead to massive queues.

    That is assuming you managed to get some tickets in the massive lottery (enterable only using the sponsor’s credit card) or you’re an MP or a large business for whom tickets were reserved for.

    Whoo-hoo Olympics!