The Hysterical Ole Miss Mascot Race: Admiral Ackbar, Apathy and Many Miffed Fans

Apparently, when some people at one of the prouder universities in the country look into installing a new mascot to replace a fan favorite that hadn't been used for years, other people get angry. Well, first the other people don't vote on the eventual ballot item at all. Then they get angry enough to populate Facebook groups dedicated to voting against such movements.

Such is life at Ole Miss right now.

When the school first announced that it would be voting on replacing Colonel Reb -- a white-maned gentleman with a cane introduced in 1979 and retired in 2003 -- with a new mascot, a few enterprising souls who have seen at least the clips of Star Wars that litter YouTube decided that Admiral Ackbar would be their guy. Ackbar is one of the Internet's cherished memes, his "It's a trap!" used and abused like any other, but his connection to Ole Miss works both because of the general "for the lulz" principle of Internet mischief and because he was an admiral for the Rebel Alliance, which ties in neatly with Ole Miss' Rebels nickname.

That, of course, was only the beginning.

The Ackbar-for-mascot campaign has gained steam since. But Ole Miss students opposed to the introduction of a new mascot helped it out by not voting on Tuesday: only 3,366 of the 17,000-plus students at the university voted on the proposal at all, and about three-quarters of those votes were for a committee to adopt a new mascot. That's the sort of apathy that America has come to expect from its youth, and the result of it is basically every American with an Internet connection writing something on those wacky Ole Miss students and their memes.  Most of the writing fails to note that yesterday's vote was essentially for or against forming a committee but, hey, facts are tough and journalism is hard.

This sympathetic media attention for a new mascot hasn't stopped the resistance to change -- the rebellion against the Rebel Alliance's candidate for the Rebels, if you will -- from cramming a Facebook group with almost as many members than there were votes in Tuesday's election. The 3,100-plus members of "Vote NO on new Ole Miss Mascot!" are fed up with the people who found the time yesterday to vote for and pass a motion to investigate changing to the status quo, and are pounding keyboards with some always amusing ALL CAPS RAGE. A sampling of that rage (names withheld to protect the irate):

⇥⇥"HAS THIS ALREADY BEEN DECIDED? Why can't they just leave us the hell alone already....SERIOUSLY! THEY'VE TAKEN EVERYTHING ELSE!"⇥⇥

⇥⇥"I voted NO today. I have loved Ole Miss since I was a little girl, mainly because of the traditions and the spirit of the school, and now I am an Ole Miss student and really sick of dictatorship there. :("⇥⇥

⇥⇥⇥

⇥⇥"we need a preacher for col.rebs funeral the people of ole miss has killed him he will be missed but not forgoten iam sorry col. reb the people did you this way in oxford mississippi------ R.I.P COL REB ---- MAYBE YOU WILL RISE AGAIN ONE DAY I HOPE SO"⇥⇥

⇥⇥⇥

⇥⇥"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO DUMB AS DIRT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"⇥⇥

⇥⇥⇥

⇥⇥"GREAT GOOGLEDY MOOGLEDY, send them dang carpetbaggers back to the north... or WAY down south..."⇥⇥

Disregarding the frequent charges of "dictatorship" on that page, which seem a little hard to swallow given the democratic vote that just happened, it seems that there are some peeved Ole Miss supporters today. If you wade through the frustrations about traditions being cast aside, they do have a point: the university may want to disassociate itself from Colonel Reb, but it's been profiting off of the image even since the 2003 retirement of the on-field mascot.

That point, though, is hard to hear when all the bellyaching is misplaced anger stirred up by a combination of the generally lazy student body and a few savvy Internet users. If the "no new mascot" crowd had been this upset about the prospect of change before yesterday or today, maybe more than a fifth of the Ole Miss student body would have been mobilized to vote.

While Admiral Ackbar is by no means a shoo-in for the next Ole Miss mascot -- good luck getting those rights from George Lucas -- he's probably got a better chance of seeing the sidelines in Oxford in the future than Colonel Reb does. That's because the traditionalists at Ole Miss fell into the greatest trap of the Internet: arguing about something instead of doing something about it.

↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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