Sunday, October 15, 2006

Mongolian Idol

National heroes can be a hassle.

On one hand, they are revered symbols of national pride, which should be propagated and celebrated widely. On the other hand, they are revered symbols of national pride, which should be controlled and guarded tightly.

It’s a dilemma at the very top of the political agenda … at least in Mongolia.

That’s because Genghis Khan—who conquered most of Asia almost 800 years ago—is a nearly universally respected hero there for his unification of the Mongol people, his strategic genius, and his righteous beard. But his name and image are being used these days on a wide variety of products unbecoming of an icon, including multiple brands of beer and vodka.

So last week, the legislature began debating a proposal that would allow the government to regulate the employment of the “Genghis Khan” name and likeness to prevent any “degrading or insulting” use.

If the bill becomes law, certain things could get you in serious predicament in Ulaanbaatar (or any other Mongolian city, although Ulaanbaatar looks the coolest in print).

For example, the country’s filmmakers would be unable to make a Mongolian version of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. In the classic original movie, the protagonists bring Genghis Khan forward in time to modern-day California. The “very excellent barbarian” chomps on Twinkies for the sugar rush, ravages a sporting goods store with a baseball bat, and uses a toilet brush to comb his hair.

Not exactly how modern Mongolians want to see their national hero portrayed.

Moderating the exploitation of important historical figures makes sense even here in the United States. Look at what we’ve done to the father of our country, George Washington: Where I live, in the national capital area, you simply can’t avoid this guy.

Strolling down the streets of Washington, D.C., I walk through the campus of the George Washington University. Both the $1 bill and the quarter in my pocket bear George Washington’s visage. I look across the Potomac at the George Washington Parkway; I turn back and see the Washington Monument.

And yet, try as I might, I just can’t find George Washington’s face on a bottle of vodka.


At October 15, 2006 10:24 PM, Blogger Grafs replied to my musings ...

Yeah but you can find it in any loud car commercial.

At October 16, 2006 7:58 AM, Blogger OnMyWatch replied to my musings ...


At October 16, 2006 8:22 AM, Blogger Stacy The Peanut Queen replied to my musings ...

Yeah, it's the same way here with Florida's national hero, Jimmy Buffett...;)

At October 16, 2006 11:35 AM, Blogger Paige Burns replied to my musings ...

Kahn was a better choice for Bill and Ted over Washington any day. What would George have done? Gone searching for a cherry tree to chop down and upgrade his wooden dentures?

I'm surprised they don't have Clinton cigars, or Nixon brand ski masks...

At October 16, 2006 4:14 PM, Blogger The Phoenix replied to my musings ...

Didn't they recently find that something like .5% of the entire world's male population can trace their genes straight back to Genghis Kahn??? They carry that identical Y-chromosome.

At October 16, 2006 8:45 PM, Blogger Kay replied to my musings ...


At October 16, 2006 9:41 PM, Blogger Lee Ann replied to my musings ...

Hey, now there is an idea!
You should label it and sell it!
The Vodka that will be your Number ONE!
Have a great week David!

At October 17, 2006 4:40 AM, Blogger Ben Heller replied to my musings ...

I wonder if they'll ever do Bill Clinton condoms ?

At October 17, 2006 7:25 AM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Grafs: On a related note, I have never had my car pruchase influenced by an ad. Am I alone in that?

OMW: Party on!

Stacy: Perhaps your state hero should retire in Mongolia. Except I wouldn't want to do that to the Mongol people.

Paige: You're right--Khan worked better than Washington. They did a good job with Abe Lincoln as one of the "historical personages" brought forward to our time.

Phoenix: I heard something about that; maybe it was even from your blog. I think I might be descended from him because I mumble "Genghis" in my sleep.

Kay: James Tiberius Kirk has certainly not a big fan of the Mongol leader (or those with similar names).

Lee Ann: I'm not sure that I want to be looking at the father of our country as I drink. Sam Adams looks close enough.

Ben: That's not a bad idea--JFK would work, too.

-- david

At October 17, 2006 9:57 AM, Blogger Mike replied to my musings ...

Mongolia just needs to capitalize (like that'll ever happen) on the Khan image. Make a new political party called the Khans. Who in their right mind would oppose them? Then they would be obliged to have Genghis' image all over as their official party symbol. Seriously, we really don't have any fierce leaders in our past. Well, there was Teddy Roosevelt, and Truman did drop the bomb and threaten Stalin, but I digress...

At October 17, 2006 4:12 PM, Blogger :P fuzzbox replied to my musings ...

In Bill and Ted, Genghis was the greatest mallrat ever. I would think that they would be proud.

At October 17, 2006 4:40 PM, Blogger Phats replied to my musings ...

Where are our priorities, GW should totally be on vodka.

Tough break for the Dookies losing their PG to a knee injury.

At October 17, 2006 5:20 PM, Blogger Layla replied to my musings ...

LOL at what Ben said!

Hi David, just dropping by to see what witty thing you had up. Entertaining as always!

At October 18, 2006 1:35 AM, Blogger X. Dell replied to my musings ...

In the US, we save our most revered icons for endorsement of alcoholic beverages: Jim Beam, Johnny Walker, and of course, our dear old granddad.

At October 18, 2006 4:52 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Mike: Almost every country has fierce leaders somewhere in its past. France and Canada don't count.

Fuzz: I liked the scene where Genghis bit the aluminum bat to test its strength. Culturally insensitive? Yes. Hilarious? Damn right.

Phats: Maybe a GW beer to take on Sam Adams. The Paulus injury really does hurt, yes ... but it's looking better than we feared a couple of days ago.

Layla: Welcome back--haven't seen you here in a while. Thanks.

X. Dell: Isn't there a Jerry Garcia beer now, too? Who's next, Carrot Top?

-- david

At October 18, 2006 9:56 PM, Blogger Trundling Grunt replied to my musings ...

W would be a sure sell on toilet paper, or you could do the whole politician range. But not Genghis or Vlad the Impaler.

At October 19, 2006 11:59 PM, Blogger Godwhacker replied to my musings ...

My favorite video game "Civilization IV" allows you to face off against some of the "great leaders" of history including Genghis Khan. The game portrays him as rather ruthless. He will invade without provocation, or make unreasonable demands. You have to get on his good side. The game let you butter him up ~ "Hi Genghis, how about some hit musicals." :)

At October 20, 2006 2:23 AM, Blogger Phats replied to my musings ...

Hey David,
I have never wanted to see Duke win so bad in my life as I do tomorrow! GO DEVILS!

At October 21, 2006 12:47 AM, Blogger X. Dell replied to my musings ...

Don't like carrots in my beer, David.

Godwhacker, I stopped at Civ II. I always found it ironic that they portrayed Ghandi as a bloodthirsty warmonger.

At October 21, 2006 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous replied to my musings ...

"And yet, try as I might, I just can’t find George Washington’s face on a bottle of vodka."

Indeed. And there's a good reason for that.


At October 22, 2006 1:34 PM, Blogger goldennib replied to my musings ...

That's because Georgie drank good ole Colonial corn whiskey moonshine. And you don't need advertising to sell that.


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