Reduce, reuse, recycle ... good riddance? That seems to be the reaction of football fans who did not react charitably to the introduction of a new female mascot, EcoKat, billed as a "crusader of conservation and fanatic of fluorescents."
Kansas State University already has a popular mascot, Willie the Wildcat, but this new character was "born from a serious call to action that morphed into a more humorous, tough-love take on environmentalism," according to the university. Willie the Wildcat joined EcoKat, at least temporarily, as her eco-enforcing sidekick.
EcoKat, played by an unnamed K-State student, was depicted in photos and a video (since taken offline) wearing a mask, cape and costume made of 90 percent repurposed materials. The university says its department of apparel, textiles and interior design "helped with the final look, making it an entirely sustainable project partnering many campus groups."
But reactions to the introduction of EcoKat have been mixed, with fans decrying her almost instantly. She even became a trending topic on Twitter. "For every tweet in defense of EcoKat are dozens more mocking the mousy mascot," the Kansas City Star reported, citing this choice sample: "In honor of #EcoKat, I will separate my plastics, glass and aluminum from one another... then put them in the trash anyways."
The sports site Athlon Sports was particularly harsh: "Really, Kansas State? Do you really think some nerd in a purple jump suit is going to teach college kids who've just finished their fourth keg stand that they shouldn't leave the refrigerator door open?"
After the topic went viral and trended on Twitter earlier this week, K-State apparently had already had enough. According to the Kansas State Collegian, the university revised the main page of the EcoKat website to remove photos of her and Willie the Wildcat standing together and edit out references to their eco-enforcing tag-team, although as of this writing the full EcoEnforcers page remains online as an orphan web page. A university spokesman also made a point to say that EcoKat was not an official team mascot, but a student with a message.
K-State President Kirk Schulz (who looks kind of like Clark Kent) also chimed in on Wednesday. "It's unfortunate that it was a creative idea that, by going viral, we've lost some ability to kind of manage what it was supposed to represent," he said. "But people just need to relax; we're not making this big change at the institution. I'm hopeful that within a few days, things will have calmed down, it won't be nationally newsworthy."
Although she has been benched, the Collegian reported that EcoKat has not yet been cancelled. She's just on hiatus until the furor dies down. Maybe she should skip the university and apply to be part of the new "DC 52" comic book universe instead? Comic fans seem to be a lot more interested in new characters than football fans.
Also on MNN: Maybe you prefer your comic heroes with more edge? Don Cheadle as Captain Planet, perhaps?