Five-Ring Circus

Why Internet Conspiracy Theorists Hate Olympic Mascots Wenlock and Mandeville

Wenlock and Mandeville
Wenlock and Mandeville pose for photos after being unveiled at St Pauls Whitechapel C of E Primary School.

Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

As Seth Stevenson pointed out the other day, the official mascots of the London Olympics are extremely creepy. Wenlock and Mandeville are bright silver globs of vivified steel, with single gigantic eyeballs where their faces ought to be. If the Teletubbies mated with the Cylons, their offspring would look something like this. But are Wenlock and Mandeville also avatars of a sinister global conspiracy that manipulates world events with an iron fist? The Internet says yes!

Many people think that Wenlock and Mandeville are tools of the Illuminati, a centuries-old secret society that runs the world, apparently through mascot manipulations and the Billboard Hot 100. “Wenlock Mandeville illuminati” is the first phrase that appears in Google’s auto-complete feature when you search under the mascots’ names. And several websites have probed the ostensible links between the hideous creatures and the one-world conspiracy that secretly controls us all. (For background, read this delightfully headlined article: “Wenlock and Mandeville are Olympic Illuminati Tools, Says Conspiracy Theorist.”)


Why do they think this? One symbol of the Illuminati is the “all-seeing eye.” Most famously, this disembodied eyeball has appeared on the back of the dollar bill since the 1930s, thanks to the efforts of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd-degree Freemason and FIRST CLASS ILLUMINATI PAWN. (The all-seeing eye is a Freemason symbol.) Illuminati conspiracy theorists are always on the watch for giant eyeballs in prominent places, so there’s really no way that Wenlock and Mandeville would have escaped their notice.

It’s an article of faith among Illuminati theorists that the group subliminally influences world events via pop culture. Last year in Slate, Jonah Weiner noted that Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, Eminem, and other famous musicians have all been accused of being Illuminati pawns who litter their albums with subliminal pro-Illuminati messages. So it stands to reason (so to speak) that the Illuminati would take the opportunity to cast its sinister gaze over the Olympics—few cultural events are more global than this.

Today in Slate, Grant Hunter, the mascots’ designer, claimed he is not a member of the Illuminati, and that Wenlock and Mandeville are lovable, not creepy. But that’s just the sort of thing a member of the Illuminati would say, isn’t it?