Totes McGoats: so wrong in so many different ways

Jillian LeBlanc, Columnist

Niagara Falls is rather clever in regards to recent marketing, but their newest idea missed its mark.

Totes McGoats, also known as Niagara Falls’ new recycling mascot, is one creepy face for such an important environmental issue.

The Niagara Falls Solid Waste Education and Enforcement Team, also known as SWEET, chose to inform the community about creating better recycling habits with the help of Totes McGoats.

This half-man, half-goat creature is a far cry from most traditional cute and cuddly mascots. From sidelines of professional sports events, to college campuses, high school pep rallies, and in some instances, the face of a company, mascots are often depicted as approachable, goofy and kid friendly.

Between its soulless eyes, harsh features, and less than cuddly nature, Totes McGoats would make for a better Halloween costume than a kid friendly mentor. Or more accurately, Totes McGoats could be Mr. Tumnus’ deranged cousin from the movie Narnia.

Regardless, the name alone is cringe worthy.

SWEET deserves some credit for trying to make their new program approachable to today’s youth, but unfortunately, trendy lingo is not long lasting. Sure, there might be some kids who think this mascot is cool, and inspiring, and worthy of their attention, but chances are, the majority will disagree.

Totes McGoats is laughable because in a few months to a year, the trendy terms that devised its clever name will no longer be prevalent. Niagara Falls will be forced to go back to the drawing board when their hip mascot no longer relates to their uninformed youth.

Linguist Geoff Nunberg posed a compelling argument a while back about how kids use slang as a way to cultivate their own language within a language. Kids form their own words and create new meanings to old words, to create a secret language, and as a way to relate to others their age.

They are constantly adding and subtracting terms from their youthful dictionary as a way to keep older generations out of the loop. By using this trendy terminology, SWEET is crunching the toes of our youth.

They’re hiding the severity of this situation behind a less than convincing mask, thus muddling the issue at hand.

SWEET is forcing a connection, rather than inspiring people with useful knowledge and simple facts. While the information is extremely important, the main point is missed because of how the message is being delivered.

The best public speakers can take a minute, boring, inconsequential topic and make their audience care. They can give you facts, figures, best and worst-case scenarios, examples, and stories that make you think, or even change your mind.

From what the world has seen, Totes McGoats is not that person.

Kids are a lot smarter than we give them credit for —and much like adults— they reject those who talk to them as if they’re stupid. Totes McGoats is a walking, talking icon for what it is to undermine society’s intelligence.

Society is shown a bizarre mascot, and is then expected to blindly follow because of its cool factor. This diminishes the intelligence of every generation, telling us that we cannot take facts at face value, that we need some gimmick to make us understand.

While SWEET gained much publicity over the installment of Totes McGoats, for its sheer ridiculousness, they could have used their fame more positively. Various forms of astonishment over this mascot are splashed across the web, the news and all sorts of print media, as opposed to the message SWEET is trying to convey.

The Niagara Falls area has an extremely low percentage for recycling, but SWEET did not utilize this opportunity to sway the world with their compelling facts. For a company’s goal to involve informing the public, they dropped the ball when given free publicity. I don’t know much about their goal other than the fact that they “want to inform.”

Some say it’s clever, others claim it’s scary, and most are simply confused. Now that Niagara Falls has the world’s attention, hopefully they will make use of their short fame and small influence to change our society for the better.

Maybe Totes McGoats will be the inspiration this area needs, but I honestly don’t believe that.

email: [email protected]